The worldwide protests against racial injustice following the death of George Floyd have not only sparked a revolution for change, but have restored the hope for inclusivity as seen in the case of Munroe Bergdorf.
Bergdorf, a black British model who got fired three years ago from L’Oreal after she spoke out on racism, has been re-hired by the international cosmetics company and will be joining the company’s U.K. diversity and inclusion board.
Bergdorf made history as the brand’s first transgender model when she was hired as the face of a L’Oreal U.K. campaign in 2017. Her appointment, however, was short-lived as L’Oreal terminated it days later when she reportedly discussed the “racial violence of white people” in the aftermath of the white supremacist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, V.A.
The Daily Mail had published a Facebook post she wrote disapproving racism after a Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which left one person dead and 19 others injured. In her post, Bergdorf said that white people must “admit their race is the most violent and oppressive force of nature on Earth.”
According to the brand, Bergdorf’s comments were “at odds” with its support for “diversity and tolerance towards all people irrespective of their race, background, gender and religion.” The decision sparked a backlash for L’Oreal, with social media users and black commentators joining Bergdorf’s calls for a boycott of the company.
After her termination, Bergdorf called on customers to boycott the brand, stating that the company’s decision reaffirmed the widespread discrimination faced by women of colour in the modelling industry.
In recent weeks, as protests erupt to solidify #BLM, many large corporations and brands have posted messages of support for the Black Lives Matter movement in recent weeks. L’Oreal Paris posted an image, which read, “SPEAKING OUT IS WORTH IT” with an accompanying message that they “stand in solidarity with the Black community, and against
In response to their post, Bergdorf said on Instagram: “You dropped me from a campaign in 2017 and threw me to the wolves for speaking out about racism and white supremacy.”
View this post on Instagram
Excuse my language but I am SO angry. FUCK YOU @lorealparis. You dropped me from a campaign in 2017 and threw me to the wolves for speaking out about racism and white supremacy. With no duty of care, without a second thought. I had to fend for myself being torn apart by the world’s press because YOU didn’t want to talk about racism. You even tried to get me to incriminate myself with pairing me up with your shady lawyers, when I had done NOTHING wrong. THAT is what you get for ‘speaking out’ when employed by @lorealparis. Racist snakes. You do NOT get to do this. This is NOT okay, not even in the slightest. I said just yesterday that it would only be a matter of time before RACIST AF brands saw a window of PR opportunity to jump on the bandwagon. Fuck you. Fuck your ‘solidarity’. Where was my support when I spoke out? Where was my apology? I’m disgusted and writing this in floods of tears and shaking. This is gaslighting. If you care about me or #blacklivesmatter, don’t let @lorealparis get away with this.
“With no duty of care, without a second thought. I had to fend for myself being torn apart by the world’s press because YOU didn’t want to talk about racism. You even tried to get me to incriminate myself with pairing me up with your shady lawyers, when I had done NOTHING wrong. THAT is what you get for ‘speaking out’ when employed by @lorealparis.”
According to Bergdorf, L’Oreal’s new president, Delphine Viguier reached out to her to talk. “We had an open and constructive conversation, she listened to what I had to say and expressed her regret for how the situation was handled three years ago,” she said in a statement.
Bergdorf subsequently revealed she had accepted Viguier’s invitation to be a consultant on L’Oreal’s newly formed U.K. diversity and inclusion board. “I believe in accountability and progress, not cancellation and grudges,” she said.
“While what happened 3 years ago was extremely traumatic for me personally and professionally, sitting on a board to provide a voice and a champion for black, trans and queer voices in the beauty industry is important to me.”
She added that “It feels good to finally have closure on this matter and I look forward to new beginnings with the L’Oreal team”.
In a statement, Viguier also confirmed the brand would make donations to “associations that support social justice and causes that are deeply personal to Munroe’s experience.”