Transgender Model Munroe Bergdorf on L'Oreal Firing: "It Opened a Narrative"

Munroe Bergdorf - H Publicity – 2018
Credit: Munroe Bergdorf

The model and activist was speaking at the Sheffield Doc/Fest.

British trans woman and model Munroe Bergdorf has discussed her sacking last year by L'Oreal following a controversial Facebook post she published in response to the violent rally in Charlottesville, Va., last year.

The since-deleted post, in which Bergdorf said the white race was "built on the backs, blood and death of people of colour" and was "drenched in racism," was picked up by the British press, and the model was subsequently dropped from a L'Oreal U.K. campaign that celebrated diversity.

But speaking at the Sheffield Doc/Fest — where clips from the recent Channel 4 documentary What Makes a Woman, in which Bergdorf examined the changing world of gender and identity, were shown — she said that her comments were "something that black people have been talking about forever" and that her firing only "reinforced" her point that it was a subject you couldn't talk about. 

Bergdorf also discussed the aftermath to her sacking, claiming it had actually led to a positive reaction and sparked a conversation.

"Mainly the black and queer communities really got behind me, and after that women got behind me and after that everybody else started talking about it," she said. "I think it opened a narrative. For a lot of people it was new information, it was things like unconscious bias that employers hold that means black people can’t get the jobs they’re qualified for."

Within the fashion industry, Bergdorf said she used to face many instances of makeup artists not being able to match makeup to her skin tone, and revealed that, even in the L'Oreal campaign, they had to use another brand. "That was awkward!" she said. 

The Sheffield Doc/Fest, which this year celebrated its 25th anniversary with around 200 films in the lineup, ends Tuesday.