As outrage continues to grow over the NFL’s initial response to the Ray Rice domestic violence scandal, a group of protestors are using a CoverGirl ad to protest the NFL’s handling of domestic violence.

The original, unaltered CoverGirl ad. Image: CoverGirl

The ad in question is part of CoverGirl’s new NFL-themed cosmetics line. As the “official beauty sponsor of the NFL,” CoverGirl created a line of makeup and nail polish based on NFL team colors. To promote their line, the company released an ad campaign featuring women in team jerseys, complete with matching makeup, nails, and the tag line, “Get Your Game Face On!” However, one ad in particular is geared towards fans of the Baltimore Ravens — the team Rice was playing for before he was suspended for two games following his arrest for domestic violence (following the release of graphic footage that depicted the full assault, the NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, later reversed that decision and suspended Rice indefinitely).

Protesters disapproving of both Roger Goodell and the NFL were outraged that a company catering to women would continue to support the NFL in light of the Rice scandal. So, the protesters took the campaign into their own hands and remixed it, photoshopping a black eye onto the model. The ad was turned into a meme to highlight their own cause: the immediate firing or resignation of Goodell. Soon, the meme was everywhere, accompanied with the hashtags #GoodellMustGo#BoycottNFL, and #CoverGirlCOTT.

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CoverGirl did not specifically address the memes, but on September 15, they did release a statement on their official Facebook page:

As a brand that has always supported women and stood for female empowerment, COVERGIRL believes domestic violence is completely unacceptable. We developed our NFL program to celebrate the more than 80 million female football fans. In light of recent events, we have encouraged the NFL to take swift action on their path forward to address the issue of domestic violence.

However, CoverGirl is still showing the Baltimore Ravens ad on both their Pinterest page and their official website.

As for Goodell, he recently announced in a press conference that he handled the Rice situation poorly:

I got it wrong with the handling of the Ray Rice matter and I am sorry for that. I got it wrong on a number of levels, from the process that I led to the decision that I reached. . . . I believe in accountability, I understand the challenges before me and I will be held accountable for meeting them.

Regarding the possibility of resigning from his position, Goodell stated that he had not considered it; instead, he said, “I am focused on doing my job, and doing it to the best of my abilities.” He also announced that the NFL is revising its personal conduct policy and is also requiring “education and training for all players and staff on preventing abuse.” In addition to those steps, the NFL will “begin supporting both the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.”

Whether Goodell resigns or is fired remains to be seen, but, frankly, Goodell’s job status is not the issue here. What is the issue here is the fact that domestic violence is still prevalent in our society. The National Domestic Violence Hotline estimates that “on average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States — more than 12 million women and men over the course of a year.” However, while the footage of Rice’s assault is sickening and horrible, there is hope from the outcry it has generated; it shows that we, as a society, do not tolerate abuse of any kind. But, more importantly, the outcry acts as a voice for the millions of domestic abuse victims who are in situations where they are unable to speak for themselves.

And that, I believe, may be one of the few positive things to come out of this scandal.


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