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Unilever to stop using ‘normal’ on all hair and skin products



(NEW YORK) — Unilever has announced that it will stop using the word “normal” on all of its beauty and personal care products and brands as well as ceasing the practice of digitally editing model’s shape, size or skin color.

In a statement issued on March 9, Unilever — which owns brands Dove, Vaseline, Lifebuoy, Sunsilk and Axe — said that the company intends to “champion a new era of beauty which is equitable and inclusive, as well as sustainable for the planet,” according to Unilever.

The company said that they conducted a global study between January and February 2021 with 10,000 respondents who took 25-minute surveys across nine countries — Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the U.K. and the U.S. — with the goal of investigating consumer’s experiences and expectations of the beauty industry and to learn “positive actions that can be taken to foster a more globally inclusive beauty culture.”

“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,” Unilever’s statement read. “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 survey found that more than half of the people who took their survey (52%) now pay more attention to a company’s stance on social issues when buying products and that 56% of the respondents felt that the beauty and personal care industry can make people feel excluded.

More definitively, the survey also found that seven in 10 people felt that using the word “normal” on packaging and advertising had a negative impact on the consumer — this number rose to eight out of 10 with people aged between 18 and 35.

“We are committed to tackling harmful norms and stereotypes and shaping a broader, far more inclusive definition of beauty,” said Sunny Jain, Unilever’s president of beauty & personal care, in the statement making these announcements. “We know that removing ‘normal’ from our products and packaging will not fix the problem alone, but it is an important step forward.”

Additionally, Unilever announced that it will no longer “digitally alter a person’s body shape, size, proportion or skin color in its brand advertising, and will increase the number of advertisements portraying people from diverse groups who are under-represented.”

According to Unilever, 74% of the survey respondents said that “people want to see the beauty and personal care industry focusing more on making people feel better, than just looking better,” and that these actions, while just being the first steps in a larger plan, will be central to the company’s branding, packaging and advertising moving forward.

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