Unilever is dropping the word ‘normal’ from its beauty products and advertising

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Hanna Ibraheem
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The company, which owns a number of brands including Dove, Vaseline, Sure and VO5, has also banned digitally altering a person in its beauty advertising.

Unilever has announced it will drop the word ‘normal’ from its beauty products and advertising.

The company, which owns brands such as Dove, Simple and Toni & Guy, has also banned digitally altering a person’s body, shape, size, proportion or skin colour in its beauty advertising. This includes models, as well as social media influencers who have been paid to promote its products.

The move comes as part of Unilever’s Positive Beauty vision and strategy, which aims to drive greater inclusivity within the industry. In a 10,000-person study conducted by Unilever across nine countries, it found that more than half of people (56%) think that the beauty and personal care industry can make people feel excluded.

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Additionally, two in three people say that the industry pressurises people into looking a certain way, which contributes to narrow ideals. And another seven in 10 people agree that the word ‘normal’ on packaging and advertising has a negative impact.

“Every day, we see and hear messages about how to ‘fit in’, how to be included in very narrow definitions of what is ‘normal’,” says Sarah Degnan Kambou, president of the International Center for Research on Women. “In order to champion equity, we need to challenge these restrictive ‘norms’ and create societies and communities that celebrate diversity – and the unique qualities and ideas that each person brings. Beauty is no exception.”

A line-up of Unilever beauty products
Unilever owns beauty brands such as Dove, Vaseline, Sure and Simple.

Of course, removing the word ‘normal’ – a term often emblazoned on haircare and skincare products – won’t fix the industry’s problems with narrow beauty ideals but it’s a start. In the survey, 63% of people agreed that removing the term ‘normal’ would inspire them to feel more positive about the way they look.

“With one billion people using our beauty and personal care products every day, and even more seeing our advertising, our brands have the power to make a real difference to people’s lives,” says Sunny Jain, president of beauty & personal care at Unilever. “As part of this, we are committed to tackling harmful norms and stereotypes and shaping a broader, far more inclusive definition of beauty.”

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Unilever’s Positive Beauty campaign centres around three commitments. It has pledged to take action to improve health and wellbeing and advance equity and inclusion.

Also, it will devote its efforts to helping to protect and regenerate 1.5 million hectares of land, forests and oceans by 2030 and support a global ban on animal testing for cosmetics by 2023.

Here’s to seeing greater positive change in the future for a more inclusive beauty industry.

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