Dove Faces Backlash Over Its Decision to Work With Controversial BLM Activist

Dove is facing controversy and a boycott over its decision to work with controversial BLM activist Zyanha Bryant for its fat acceptance campaign.


Sep. 15 2023, Published 11:09 a.m. ET

The Gist:

  • Dove soap is facing a boycott following the news that they would be partnering with Zyanha Bryant, a Black Lives Matter activist.
  • Zyanha is controversial because of her connection to the story of Morgan Bettinger, a student Zyanha seems to have falsely accused of making racist remarks on the University of Virginia campus.
  • Calls for a Dove boycott are just the latest in a long line of calls for boycotting major companies over brand partnerships.
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Following a recent announcement by Black Lives Matter activist Zyanha Bryant that she would be partnering with Dove for a new fat liberation campaign, the backlash was almost immediate. Calls for boycotting Dove have started in response to Zyanha's announcement, in large part because of her connection to the story of Morgan Bettinger, a University of Virginia student.

“After hearing that Dove Beauty chose Zyanha Bryant — who ruined Morgan Bettinger’s life — for their ‘fat acceptance ambassador,’ THIS lifelong large lady and now former Dove customer tossed out the last three bars of Dove products she will EVER buy,” one person wrote online following the news. Naturally, this outcry led many to wonder why the partnership was so upsetting to some people.

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What is the Dove soap controversy all about?

The Dove soap controversy is all about the brand's partnership with Zyanha. The issue focuses on an incident from 2020, when Zyanha and Morgan were both students at the University of Virginia. At the time, Zyanha claimed that she heard Morgan refer to Black Lives Matter protesters as "good speed bumps," before later admitting that she likely "misheard" Morgan.

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Zyanha then campaigned to have Morgan disciplined by the university, and Morgan's school records show that she did face disciplinary action as a result of the campaign. The details of this story have left many outraged, which is part of the reason they feel that Dove's partnership is inappropriate.

These calls for boycotts are just the latest in a line of recent corporate backlashes over companies working with people that a portion of the public finds inappropriate or even dangerous.

The most famous of these boycotts came with Bud Light announced a partnership with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney. The subsequent backlash led to a severe dip in the company's stock price, even though Dylan wasn't accused of doing anything like the story about Zyanha.

Dove hasn't commented on the backlash yet, but given how these boycotts have spread over the internet, they may eventually be forced to.

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Zyanha announced her partnership with Dove in August.

Zyanha first announced that she would be partnering with Dove in August and posted a video explaining the collaboration.

“My belief is that we should be centering the voices and the experiences of the most marginalized people and communities at all times," she said in the video. “So when I think about what fat liberation looks like to me, I think about centering the voices of those who live in and who maneuver through spaces and institutions in a fat body.”

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