Sojourn Wallace, 32, claims that the hairstylist was not equipped to style afro hair
A black model featured in Dove’s Respect Your Microbiome commercial last year is seeking compensation from the brand, after claiming that she lost 19 inches of hair from a stylist’s botched treatments during the campaign shoot.
Sojourn Wallace, 32, told the Huffington Post earlier today, “I was extremely hurt and distraught. To think I was actually hired because they asked for a model who has natural, thick, long hair – and then to actually have that taken away from me as a result of doing the commercial really felt like I was taken advantage of.”
Wallace initially took to Instagram to share her story with her 10k followers, posting a video of her damaged hair alongside screenshots explaining the incident which she called “racially charged” (later telling the Huffington Post this is because the hairstylist was not equipped to style black hair).
Wallace said she didn’t want to “come across as ungrateful” or get “blacklisted from working on a commercial again either.” She added: “What’s more, I didn’t want to come across as the ‘angry complaining black woman’, because we’re all so tired of that troupe [sic] being placed on us," posting to her Instagram story.
“But after trying to speak to them about the situation and getting brushed off, and told that if I didn’t like what they were planning to do to my hair (which consisted of them trying to curl my 4B hair while it was damp and literally setting the ends on fire) I feel like I have to speak up.”
Dove’s global communications manager was quick to respond to Wallace’s claims, releasing a statement to the Huffington Post yesterday.
“Our team was very sorry to hear about Sojourn’s experience as a part of a Dove commercial shoot last year, and we take this matter very seriously. What she described is inconsistent with our brand values and beliefs.”
Their statement continued: “We always aim to meet the needs of individual hair types by ensuring we pair the women in our shoots with stylists who are skilled with their specific hair type. We are using these discussions as an opportunity to further strengthen our approach, and we invited Sojourn to collaborate with us on that.”
Dove also added that they “offered to cover any hair expenses Sojourn may have incurred” – offering £5,000 – and also offered Sojourn to run in-house sessions on diversity for the brand, to “ensure all women have a positive experience on set.”
Wallace responded to Dove’s in-house sessions offer with her idea to collaborate with the brand on a national campaign about black-hair diversity and inclusivity, as opposed to internal sessions. Dove has yet to respond to her counter-offer. Wallace said she was heartbroken the brand only reached out to her after she put it on social media, claiming they knew about the inexperienced stylist during the shoot and ignored her concerns.
“The fact that I had to wait a year for my hair to grow – to feel confident enough to speak out and put it on social media – before they actually address it is heartbreaking.”