The image: A new advertisement for Dove's VisibleCare Body Wash is being denounced as racist in some quarters. The ad, which promises "visibly more beautiful skin in just one week," features three different women — one black, one Latina, and one white — standing in a row underneath two photos of skin texture labeled "before" and "after." (See the image below.) The black model appears beneath the "before" photo, leading some commentators to posit that Dove views darker skin as less desirable. Dove insists that all three women represent the smoother-skin "after" effect, and that they "do not condone any activity or imagery that intentionally insults any audience."
The reaction: The racism in this ad is "definitely cringeworthy," says Justin Fenner at Styleite. But what's worse is that "none of the scores of people who had to approve this ad thought there was anything wrong with it." Calm down, says Jenée Desmond-Harris at The Root. "There are a lot of racist things in the world," but this isn't one of them. It's a stretch to believe that the placement of the models "is actually meant to imply that the product has skin-lightening properties." This ad may be poorly designed, but it's not racist. Judge for yourself: