Dove soap has a new “fat empowerment ambassador.” She is a 22-year-old Black woman named Zyahna Bryant who preaches about what it is like to take up space in the world as an obese person.
There is backlash to this notion of fat empowerment but let’s set fatness aside for a minute and remind ourselves that Dove parent Unilever does not care about women. This story distracts from the fact that Unilever products are made with slave labor.
Dove would like us to think that Zyahna Bryant is a marginalized person because she’s an obese Black woman. I’m sure that’s a hard life, but you know what else is a hard life? Being a factory worker for Unilever in Kenya and being subject to rape.
In 2007, Unilever knew and fostered political violence on one of its plantations. They hired security and evacuated management staff but left workers to be raped, looted, beaten and killed. They closed the plantation for six months and left survivors without pay. When workers returned to work, they had to work with their attackers and were told to say nothing if they saw someone with one of their own stolen items. When the workers sued, the case was thrown out. They have appealed to the United Nations who has ignored this, instead naming Unilever as a partner with UN Women alongside the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Procter & Gamble, Rockefeller Foundation and the Coca-Cola Company.
So, sure, you can be upset about fat empowerment and fight with Dove on Twitter. But maybe that’s a culture war distraction from the real marginalized groups.