Trans model Munroe Bergdorf is the newest face of cosmetic company Illamasqua, after she was fired at L’Oréal for writing a Facebook post calling out structural racism.
Earlier this month L’Oréal launched a new diversity-centered campaign featuring Munroe Berfdorf, their first trans model. This was a widely applauded and seemingly large (though long overdue) step toward inclusion and representation for the company and the makeup industry at large. However, just five days later, L’Oréal showed their true colors — which we know historically from their foundation offerings to be 50 shades of beige — and terminated their partnership with Bergdorf. This came in response to an article published by a right-wing U.K. based tabloid, branding Bergdorf as “anti-white” and taking excerpts out of context from a since deleted Facebook post written by Bergdorf in which she calls out structural racism.
Here is Bergdorf’s statement in full:
“Honestly I don’t have energy to talk about the racial violence of white people any more. Yes ALL white people. Because most of ya’ll don’t even realise or refuse to acknowledge that your existence, privilege and success as a race is built on the backs, blood and death of people of colour. Your entire existence is drenched in racism. From micro-aggressions to terrorism, you guys built the blueprint for this s***.Come see me when you realise that racism isn’t learned, it’s inherited and consciously or unconsciously passed down through privilege.Once white people begin to admit that their race is the most violent and oppressive force of nature on Earth… then we can talk.Until then stay acting shocked about how the world continues to stay f***** at the hands of your ancestors and your heads that remain buried in the sand with hands over your ears.”
Following the publishing of Bergdorf’s statement, L’Oréal tweeted this response:
L’Oréal champions diversity. Comments by Munroe Bergdorf are at odds with our values and so we have decided to end our partnership with her.
— L'Oréal Paris UK (@LOrealParisUK) September 1, 2017
What L’Oréal really championed here was their industry’s commitment to being racist. They championed the continued oppression and silencing of people of color working tirelessly to shake the complicit racism in our society out from under the rug. They championed the continuation of the painful historical trend of vilifying of black women – specifically through perpetuation of the “angry black woman” stereotype – as it seems they took issue not only with what Bergdorf said, but how she said it given that her words were not presented in the kind, catering, non-threatening tone white supremacy demands from the women that make up one of the most violently oppressed groups of all time. Furthermore, L’Oréal championed the continued marginalization of and violence toward trans women of color and the entire trans community through their short-sighted, humiliating and downright disrespectful treatment of Munroe Bergdorf. These are the true values of the L’Oréal brand. Now we know.
There is something that these large, historically racist companies that now claim to value the importance of diversity just can’t seem to understand: they cannot have true diversity and inclusion without acknowledging the long-standing racist structures that allowed their company to become a top player in a billion dollar white-washed industry in the first place. The sheer fact that L’Oréal needed to announce their diversity efforts also by default announces their lack of ever having or holding LGBTQ people and people of color in a place of importance.
Fortunately, British brand Illamasqua does understand these things and gave a happy ending to this bleak situation. They have worked with Bergdorf in the past, have a strong history of diversity in their representation, their products are cruelty-free AND earlier this year they released an Anti-Fascism Pledge directly telling Trump supporters and anyone who doesn’t support their values not to buy their products. Are you in love yet?
In the wake of the controversy with L’Oréal, Illamasqua released this statement supporting and standing in solidarity with Bergdorf:
— Illamasqua (@Illamasqua) September 1, 2017
Then Illamasqua came through like the bosses they are and hired Bergdorf to be the face of their new campaign. The only details released so far are that the campaign is centered on gender fluidity, and also features model Rain Dove. Tbh do we need to know more? I’m sold, and this collaboration is what a real true match looks like.
— Illamasqua (@Illamasqua) September 13, 2017
Look how they slay!
The campaign also seems to be using the gender neutral hashtag #humanup rather than the commonly used non-inclusive phrases man/woman up which is just lovely. I am so proud of Munroe Bergdorf for standing in her truth and of Illamasqua for showing the makeup industry and the world what a champion really looks like. Can’t wait to see what this line has in store!