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Unilever Drops 'Normal' From Beauty & Personal Care

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Unilever has committed to not digitally altering a person's body shape, size, proportion or skin color in its brand advertising

Unilever has announced it will be removing the word "normal" from all of its beauty and personal care brands' packaging advertising as part of its new Positive Beauty vision and strategy.

Unilever has also committed to not digitally altering a person's body shape, size, proportion or skin color in its brand advertising, and will increase advertisements portraying a diverse community.

Positive Beauty will "champion a new era of beauty which is equitable and inclusive, as well as sustainable for the planet."

In addition, Positive Beauty will drive a transformation in how the products are designed and formulated.

"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," according to the company.

The 10,000-person study commissioned by Unilever, which was conducted across nine countries found:

  • 56% of people think that the beauty and personal care industry can make people feel excluded.
  • 74% of people want to see the beauty and personal care industry focusing more on making people feel better, than just looking better.
  • 52% of people say they now pay more attention to a company’s stance on societal issues before buying products.
  • 70% of people agree that using the word ‘normal’ on product packaging and advertising has a negative impact. For those aged 18-35, this rises to 8 in 10.

Positive Beauty has set forth three commitments to drive change:

  1. Taking action through our brands to improve health and well-being, and advance equity and inclusion, reaching 1 billion people per year by 2030. 
  2. Helping to protect and regenerate 1.5 million hectares of land, forests and oceans by 2030.
  3. Supporting a global ban on animal testing for cosmetics by 2023.

Sunny Jain, president beauty and 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.

Jain continued, “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.

Jain concluded, “With more consumers than ever rewarding brands which take action on the social and environmental issues they care about, we believe that Positive Beauty will make us a stronger, and more successful business.”

Sarah Degnan Kambou, president of the International Center for Research on Women, said: “Every day, we see and hear messages about how to ‘fit in.' how to be included in very narrow definitions of what is ‘normal.' 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. We look forward to seeing Unilever advance these commitments and hold themselves to the high standards they have set out before them.”