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Is no ‘normal’ the new normal?

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Unilever, owner of professional skincare brands like Dermalogica and Murad, has dropped ‘normal’ claims when referring to skin and hair types in a bid to push an inclusivity message.

In addition to removing the word ‘normal’, Unilever will not digitally alter a person’s body shape, size, proportion or skin colour in its brand advertising, and will increase the number of advertisements portraying people from diverse groups who are under-represented.

This forms part of the launch of the company’s new Positive Beauty vision and strategy, which Unilever says sets out several progressive commitments and actions for its beauty and personal care brands. Positive Beauty is positioned as championing a new era of beauty that is equitable and inclusive, as well as sustainable for the planet.

A Unilever statement reads: “The decision to remove ‘normal’ is one of many steps that we are taking to challenge narrow beauty ideals, as we work towards helping to end discrimination and advocating for a more inclusive vision of beauty. It comes as global research into people’s experiences of the beauty industry reveals that using ‘normal’ to describe hair or skin makes most people feel excluded.”

The 10,000-person study, which was commissioned by Unilever, was conducted across nine countries, including South Africa. The other countries were Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, UK and the USA.

  • More than half of people (56%) think that the beauty and personal care industry can make people feel excluded.

  • People want to see the beauty and personal care industry focusing more on making people feel better, than just looking better (74%).

  • More than half of people (52%) say they now pay more attention to a company’s stance on societal issues before buying products.

  • Seven in 10 people agree that using the word ‘normal’ on product packaging and advertising has a negative impact. For younger people – those aged 18-35 – this rises to eight in 10.

Sunny Jain, Unilever president of Beauty & Personal Care, said: “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. As part of this, we are committed to tackling harmful norms and stereotypes and shaping a broader, far more inclusive definition of beauty.

“We know that removing ‘normal’ from our products and packaging will not fix the problem alone, but it is an important step forward. It’s just one of a number of actions we are taking as part of our Positive Beauty vision, which aims not only to do less harm, but more good for both people and the planet.”

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