The beauty and personal-care company Unilever recently announced that it would no longer use the word “normal” on its products or in its advertising, in light of a new study that supposedly revealed the term makes most people feel excluded. The London-based company, which owns the Dove, Axe, Sunsilk and Vaseline brands, among others, also promised to increase the number of its ads featuring underrepresented people, though it didn’t provide details or specify groups. Anonymous sources tell me that Unilever is planning to significantly increase ads featuring bisexual mulatto agnostic transvestites between the ages of 50 and 64.
Unilever said that by taking these actions it hopes to better “challenge narrow beauty ideals.” The company had previously commissioned a 10,000-person study across nine countries, including Brazil, China, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and the United States. Fifty-six percent of the study’s participants purportedly said that the beauty industry could make people feel excluded, while nearly seven in 10 people agreed that the word “normal” on products and in advertising had negative effects. Unsurprisingly, eight in 10 respondents between the ages of 18 and 35 were offended by the word “normal.” Seventy-four percent of participants said they wanted the beauty industry to make them feel better, not just look better. Sorry, sob sisters, but that’s what fast food and alcohol are for. Or go see your priest, therapist or mother.
A spokeswoman for Unilever stated that the company had more than 200 products that included the word “normal” on the label. She noted that the company had already started the removal process and aims to have it fully completed by March 2022. Ateh Jewel, a beauty journalist and advisory board member of the British Beauty Council, opined that the changes were long overdue and “completely necessary” following the killing of George Floyd and the subsequent worldwide Black Lives Matter demonstrations.
Huh? Non sequitur alert!
“Jewel” claims that the use of “normal” could be dangerous for a person’s self-esteem and mental health. The survey respondents may well agree. Ergo, if you can’t deal with the word “normal,” you are now, apparently, normal.
Unilever’s decision just “scratches the surface” of what needs to be done, according to Jewel. She suggested that beauty companies should also focus their attention on recruiting more diverse candidates for seats in the boardroom and for positions in cosmetic labs. Last summer, in response to outrage over the killing of George Floyd, Unilever boldly and courageously rushed to declare its opposition to racism. It promptly pledged to strike the terms “fair/fairness, white/whitening, and light/lightening” from all of its product packaging and communications. The company also committed to changing the name of its “Fair & Lovely” brand.
How nice that we live in a society where an unfortunate instance of violence prompts a leading maker of beauty products to remove an adjective from its packaging and advertising!
Should “normal” be considered offensive, a “bad” word? Of course not. To deny that there is such a thing is folly at best. The concepts of normal blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol levels, and so forth, are critical to the medical field…and human health. There are necessary normative standards pertaining to all aspects of life. To deny that fact is not normal. Nor is it good.