Update: Less than two weeks after L’Oréal ended its partnership with its first trans model, Munroe Bergdorf is back in the beauty biz as the newest face of Illamasqua. “Excited to announce that I’m one of the faces of the next Illamasqua campaign,” Bergdorf announced on her Instagram last night.
The British beauty brand has a history of celebrating diversity, coming to bat for representation, and standing its ground on controversial viewpoints, so it seems like the perfect fit for a spokesmodel who shares the same values.
Illamasqua first came out in support of the DJ-turned-model when the news of her firing broke earlier this month. “In order for our generation to move forward and create a more inclusive society, it’s not just about showing diversity,” reads a caption on the brand’s Instagram, posted alongside a photo of Bergdorf. “We must all be free to talk about social issues in a constructive and tolerant way.”
An Illamasqua spokesperson echoed that sentiment in an email to Mic. “Munroe embodies diversity and individuality; she is not scared to be truly herself. But [she] doesn’t just stop there,” they said. “She speaks out about the issues that affect not just her but the rest of our generation, seeking to improve the society we live in. That is what makes her a true Illamasqua Ambassador.”
Update (9/1/17): Today, L'Oréal announced that it is parting ways with Munroe Bergdorf, just days after revealing its historic partnership with the trans model. The news comes after Bergdorf allegedly wrote, “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 color," in a now deleted Facebook post, according to People.
When approached for comment, L'Oréal responded with this official statement: “L’Oréal supports diversity and tolerance towards all people irrespective of their race, background, gender and religion. The L’Oréal Paris True Match campaign is a representation of these values and we are proud of the diversity of the Ambassadors who represent this campaign. We believe that the recent comments by L’Oréal Paris UK Spokesperson Munroe Bergdorf are at odds with those values, and as such we have taken the decision to end the partnership with her. L’Oréal Paris remains committed to the True Match campaign and breaking down barriers in beauty.”
Bergdorf took to Facebook to clarify her stance, saying that her words, which were "a direct response to the violence of white supremacists in Charlottesville," were taken out of context. "Identifying that the success of the British Empire has been at the expense of the people of colour, is not something that should offend ANYONE. It is a fact. It happened. Slavery and colonialism, at the hands of white supremacy, played a huge part in shaping the United Kingdom and much of the west, into the super power that it is today," she wrote. "When I stated that "all white people are racist", I was addressing that fact that western society as a whole, is a SYSTEM rooted in white supremacy - designed to benefit, prioritise and protect white people before anyone of any other race. Unknowingly, white people are SOCIALISED to be racist from birth onwards. It is not something genetic. No one is born racist."
This story was originally published August 30, 2017.
For the first time ever, L'Oréal has hired a trans woman to star in one of its campaigns.
The London resident is also a DJ and fashion designer, according to The Evening Standard, which called her "London’s own Laverne Cox." She started transitioning five years ago, when she was 25, and now, she's a spokesperson for the trans community.
In a L'Oréal Paris video, she talks about what this opportunity means to her. "If I can't relate to anybody that's in the media that's transgender, then hopefully someone can relate to me," she explains. "I definitely set out to empower girls like me. I think that our history definitely wasn't being told. Not that many people know that it was trans women of color that fought for gay rights that started the Stonewall riots, which eventually led to the gay rights movement."
As a trans woman, she's used makeup to show the world who she feels like on the inside. She wrote in an essay for Vogue that she used to steal her mom's lipstick as a kid and secretly put it on at school. "When I started wearing make-up it was about experimentation and excitement, but then it reaches a point where you’re told you’re not 'meant' to be like that," she recalled. "Also, I grew up in the countryside where the only foundations I had access to came in four shades, and all four shades were white, which made it impossible."
While she's still in the midst of finding herself and doesn't view herself as a role model, she considers herself a "role option," she says in the video. "Hopefully, people can relate to what I've been through, because it's not a smooth ride, but people can see their own ride in my ride."