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VERIFY: People are boycotting L’Oréal for a statement the company never made

After seeing tweets calling for a #boycottloreal, our Verify researchers found that the cosmetics company is being blamed for a statement they did not pen.

WASHINGTON, D.C., USA — QUESTION:

People online are calling for a boycott of L’Oréal products, after a photo of a news graphic went viral. The graphic reads 'L'Oreal adviser's message to white people' and goes on to say that 'your entire existence is drenched in racism,' and 'once white people begin to admit that their race is the most violent and oppressive nature on Earth, then we can talk.'

Is this an official company statement from L’Oréal, as some people online purport?

ANSWER:

No. The quote is from a deleted Facebook message from a model who worked for L’Oréal Paris UK in 2017. The company parted ways with the model, Munroe Bergdorf, following the comments, and she was rehired in 2020 to serve on L’Oréal's UK Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Board.

SOURCES:

Multiple news outlets reported in 2017 Munroe Bergdorf's deleted Facebook post 

Channel 4 News interview with Munroe Bergdorf

L’Oréal Paris UK tweet from 2017

Munroe Bergdorf statement from 2020

Delphine Viguier L'Oréal Paris Brand President statement

PROCESS:

#Boycottloreal is circulating after an image of a news graphic took off. 

It claims a L’Oréal adviser had a message for white people that said, in part, “your existence, privilege and success as a race was built on the backs, blood and death of people of color.”

So we’re verifying, is this an official L’Oréal statement?

Our Verify researchers began by taking a closer look at this photo, which attributes the quote to Munroe Bergdorf, a British model and activist who was featured in a L’Oréal Paris UK campaign back in 2017.

The comments were posted on her Facebook page in 2017, then deleted, but not before they were confirmed by multiple reports.

Bergdorf herself also addressed the comments, during a Channel 4 interview:

“Well, I wrote the status in response to the Charlottesville attacks. I was angry and I think everybody was angry at that point, but I wrote it because I wanted to talk about where the root of racism is....So really, in my head, I didn't think that there would be that much of a problem in identifying that racism is coming from white culture, it's coming from white privilege, it's coming from white supremacists. This isn't a situation where people are on a level playing field. Society is not level. Society is built on the foundations of white supremacy.”

So we can verify, the statement in these photos is not an official L’Oréal statement. They came from a model who was working on a L’Oréal campaign, a few years ago.

Bergdorf says she was fired shortly after those comments. 

In 2017, L’Oréal Paris UK wrote that Berdorf's comments were "at odds with our values and so we have decided to end our partnership with her."

In June of 2020, she joined the L’Oréal UK diversity and inclusion advisory board.

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