Burt’s Bees Says Single Black Mom Christmas Ad Was Photoshopped


  • Burt’s Bees apologized on Monday for an image showing three white families with a mother, father and children alongside a fourth Black family that had only a mother and children
  • It noted, however, that the grouping was not their own and the original poster had stitched together the images, ignoring the other images of Black families with fathers
  • That wasn’t enough for some consumers, who said the presence of any image of fatherless Black families willfully perpetuates stereotypes

Burt’s Bees has come under fire after an Instagram account stitched together various images from their website to make it seem like they were perpetuating racist stereotypes of fatherless Black families.

The North Carolina-based cosmetics company issued an apology Monday, taking responsibility for the picture but noting that the juxtaposition was the work of the poster and its website had images of Black families that include fathers.

The original post came from the Instagram account balleralert and showed four families: the three white families matching the nuclear family standard with a mother, father and two children. The black family balleralert chose to use lacked a father, with the poster adding the caption, “why?”

Internet commenters quickly took offense that Burt’s Bees would choose to use a Black family that perpetuated stereotypes of Black absentee fathers. Burt’s Bees issued an apology and confirmed that the individual pictures were real but noting that the pictures were not grouped together on its website, which includes pictures of Black families in the nuclear family mold. 

The photographs are of actual families, and COVID-19 photoshoot reschedulings meant that the father for the Black family had to work that day, the Grio reports. Nevertheless, Burt’s Bees took responsibility for the impression. The photo had been replaced with one of the ones that include a father on Monday, with the smaller family deleted from the site.

“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,” the statement read.

The statement drew a mixed response. Some social media users seemed confused that Burt’s Bees would apologize for a clearly manipulative juxtaposition, while others suggested that the picture was not offensive. There were also some who saw the apology as inadequate and remained outraged.

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