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11 March 2021 

Unilever scraps the word 'normal' from its beauty products

Look up the definition of normal, and you'll see 'conforming to a type, standard or regular pattern'. Since most people don't conform to a standard, and many have been excluded from what's deemed regular, Unilever announced this week that it will be removing the word normal from its beauty and personal care brands, in ads and on products worldwide. The company also committed to not digitally editing photos to change a person's body shape, size, proportions or skin color.

Society has always been good at othering, at defining a norm and viewing those who don't fit that mold as being different. Personal care products have generally followed that tradition in the wording used for their products. If someone has a skin condition that's seen as undesirable, or a hair texture not typical for where they call home, the 'normal' product isn't for them.

While some are calling out Unilever for virtue signalling and the company's social media feeds are strewn with comments condemning them for 'fundamentalist political correctness', words have power, and why exclude people if you don't need to? Seems fairly straightforward to us ;-) If you aren't worried about a bit of backlash — and maybe even view it as an opportunity to engage with people who think differently — take a closer look at your own brand and see which words or phrases you could remove to ensure that all (potential) customers feel welcome and included.

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