American personal care products company Burt’s Bees is under fire for a series of photos posted to their website. The collection of images featured 4 families, 3 of which are represented by a Caucasian mother, father, and 2 children. The 4th family is represented by a Black mother, and her 2 children. The bold visual reinforces the age-old stereotype that Black families are raised without their fathers.
The imagery sent social media in a frenzy. Users furiously called out the brand by telling them how dangerous and racist it is to push this kind of narrative. Once Burt’s Bees got wind of the uproar, they posted a statement to their social media platforms apologizing for their lack of judgement:
“On behalf of Burt’s Bees Baby, in response to an image of a family shown on our website, we are deeply sorry for the hurt this image has caused. We recognize the importance of portraying families in a way that doesn’t promote harmful stereotypes. Our choice to use this photo when part of the family was not available for a rescheduled photoshoot was wrong, and we have removed the image from our website.
These four images were not part of an ad and not collectively compiled by our Company, but pasted together by a Twitter user using different images of actual families we have on our website, which includes other representations of real Black families.
Even so, we have learned a lot about impact and intent, and we own the responsibility of the impact of having the image on our website. We understand that representation matters, and that representation has impact.
Please know that Burt’s Bees Baby is actively and continually working on our own inclusion and diversity journey as an organization. Our mission has always been to do good, to be kind, to care for all families, our planet and each other. We aim for inclusivity and hope to reflect that throughout every aspect of our company. We will do better.”
The brand offers an interesting explanation to why the father wasn’t represented on the website. While it may be valid, today’s climate doesn’t allow for these kind of mistakes. What do you think? Was Burt’s Bees in the wrong for the family representation on their website?