Model fired by L'Oreal for remarks on racism will be face of rival campaign

Illamasqua hires Munroe Bergdorf, sacked by French firm after urging white people to be aware of unconscious racism

A transgender model fired by L’Oreal for making comments about systemic racism on social media has been chosen as the face of a new campaign by a rival beauty brand.

Munroe Bergdorf was sacked by the French company last month after making the comments on Facebook in the wake of events in Charlottesville. On Wednesday the British firm Illamasqua announced she was fronting its new campaign based around gender fluidity.

In a statement Illamasqua said: “Munroe embodies diversity and individuality; she is not scared to be truly herself. But Munroe doesn’t just stop there. 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.”

Bergdorf’s now deleted Facebook post asked that white people become aware of any unconscious racism: “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.”

One of the faces of L’Oreal’s new diversity initiative, Bergdorf was the company’s first transgender representative. Including a black transgender model was viewed as a big step forward for the beauty industry, with many viewing her recent firing as symptomatic of how disposable diversity is within the industry. In the wake of Bergdorf’s sacking, the black model and DJ Clara Amfo quit a L’Oreal campaign in solidarity.

Announcing her new role on Instagram, Bergdorf wrote: “Excited to announce that I’m one of the faces of the next Illamasqua campaign. If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

Bergdorf has been a longstanding collaborator with Illamasqua. Following the backlash in August, Illamasqua defended her, writing on Twitter: “We don’t stand or accept any form of racism, but we also believe Munroe’s comments have been edited out of context by a certain media title (who we won’t bother naming) without telling a true story.”

L’Oreal ended its relationship with the 30-year-old for her comments, which it said were “at odds” with its values. Bergdorf says she has since had threats of assault, rape and death.

Speaking to the Guardian earlier this month, Bergdorf said: “The most ridiculous thing is that you call out racism and they respond with more racism. It just doesn’t make any sense.”

She added: “I don’t regret what I said. I’m an activist. Being an activist means calling people out, not just saying what everyone else is saying and what everyone else wants to think. L’Oreal knew that when they hired me.”


Humairah Adam and Morwenna Ferrier

The GuardianTramp

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