L'Oreal reconciles with former brand ambassador after copping flak for hypocrisy

L'Oreal Paris has reconciled with its former brand ambassador Munroe Bergdorf, after the transgender model called out the beauty brand for its recent social post showing support of the Black Lives Matter movement and current protests in America. In an Instagram post, Delphine Viguier-Hovasse, global brand president, L’Oreal Paris, said she had a conversation with Bergdorf (pictured) that was "honest, vulnerable and transparent". "We listened to each other and shared our feelings and perspectives on the situation with open hearts and minds," the post said. 

Viguier also said she understands much better the pain and trauma that were behind Bergdorf’s words in 2017 and the urgency she felt to speak in defense of the Black community against systemic racism. "I regret the lack of dialogue and support the company showed Bergdorf around the time of the termination," Viguier said, adding that both parties have agreed that negative labels should not be used to define all individuals in any group. Viguier also said the company supports Bergdorf's fight against systemic racism and are committed to work to dismantle such systems.

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Moving forward, Viguier said the L’Oréal Group will be forming a UK diversity and inclusion advisory board of voices inside and outside the company, who will influence and inform its action plan. She has also invited Bergdorf to be part of, which Bergdorf has accepted. L’Oréal will also be donating to associations that support social justice and causes that are deeply personal to Bergdorf’s experience. "Speaking out is worth it, only if we are able to listen, learn and grow," Viguier said, making a reference to its original social post - an image on Instagram of a black tile with the words "Speaking out is worth it".

Bergdorf has also released a statement on her Instagram account, where she said it feels good to finally have closure on the matter and she looks forward to new beginnings with the beauty brand. "I hope this reconciliation is proof that we can all find a way to put aside our difference and work together to push for a more progressive, fair and equal world," Bergdorf added.

Last week, Bergdorf called L’Oréal out for its social post that showed support to the Black Lives Matter movement. In an Instagram post, Bergdorf lambasted the brand for not supporting her when she spoke out against the racial violence of white people in 2017. Bergdorf said: "I said just yesterday that it would only be a matter of time before racist brands saw a window of PR opportunity to jump on the bandwagon." Bergdorf added that the brand dropped her from a campaign in 2017 and "threw [her] to the wolves for speaking out about racism and white supremacy". 

Recently closer to home, former Miss Universe Malaysia, Samantha Katie James also came under fire for her race-related responses to the Black Lives Matter movement. In a series of Instagram Stories, James said that although she does not live in America, it seems to her as if the whites won. “Because if you are angry, you respond in rage and anguish. That means it has power over you. They have power over you,” she said. She added that most people are “mindlessly” following what the masses do, creating unnecessary anguish. James also said: “To the black people, relax, take it as a challenge makes you stronger. You chose to be born as a coloured person in America for a reason. To learn a certain lesson.” Her Instagram posts have led to brands such as ASICS and local fashion company Brian Khoo, as well as the Miss Universe Malaysia Organisation to distance from her. 

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