Tag Archives: jungle

Open Letter to World Wildlife Fund: Good Causes Don’t Justify Racist, Sexist Imagery

Debbie says:

Edited to add: It does appear that 1) the ad I was complaining about is part of a campaign that includes two other ads with male models, and 2) they may not be actual WWF ads, but either potential ads which the WWF isn’t using, or isn’t yet using, or possibly ads done with an overseas (Brazilian) partner. See the comments for more details.

These things make a difference, and at the same time I still think the image is disturbing, inappropriate, and worthy of criticism.


Dear World Wildlife Fund,

As a supporter of the same causes you promote, I was horrified to see this advertisement as part of your fundraising campaign.

black woman as jungle animal

I have three major objections.

First, women (of any ethnicity) are not wild animals. Conventionally sexy women are not prey, and your ad reminds us that they are often seen that way. If your point is that humans’ lives are endangered by the loss of the jungle, why not do the ad with a paunchy middle-aged white man with glasses? He could be sitting in an easy chair in the jungle, just to pick one idea. Or you might do a variety of people in clothes and with props appropriate to a variety of daily lives, rather than portray them as animals.

Second, why is this woman dark-skinned? By using a dark-skinned model, you are reinforcing the cultural assumption that black people closer to the jungle, “less human,” more animalistic, more exotic. If you drop a white woman into this picture in the same pose, you’ll find that many more people (perhaps including whoever is reading this letter) find the ad more uncomfortable, more upsetting. That’s a big clue that it’s not right to use a black woman there. Any place where a picture of a white woman is disquieting and a picture of a black woman is less so, that’s because our unconscious racism and racist visual stereotypes are interfering with us seeing the problem. Giving her an Afro haircut is an odd and disturbing touch: a tiny measure of “black pride” overlaid on this deeply inappropriate and dehumanizing image.

Finally, every time you use a model whose picture has been photoshopped to remove flesh (of any race or ethnicity), you’re sending a message to girls and women everywhere that they can’t/won’t ever meet the ideal body shape they see in photographs. This leads to eating disorders and an extraordinary level of self-hatred in women. Trust me, people who hate themselves are not going to work effectively to save the planet.

Please withdraw the ad and issue a public apology for its inappropriateness.

Pantryslut found this first.