Unilever Is Removing the Word “Normal” From Its Packaging and Advertising
Normal, out of context, seems like a harmless word. On the label of a beauty product, however, its connotations are anything but. For years, shoppers have seen “normal” equated with skin and hair that don’t have attributes implied to be issues that need correcting — as if it were abnormal to have oily skin or coarse, textured hair. Recognizing and confirming the problematic power of the word after conducting an international survey, Unilever has announced it will be removing “normal” from all of its beauty and personal-care brands’ packaging and advertising.
Esi Eggleston Bracey, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Beauty & Personal Care at Unilever, tells Allure that brands such as Dove, Axe, and Vaseline are in the process of removing “normal” from their marketing language, noting that the parent company has already made progress removing it from most of its hair-care brands globally.
“Unfortunately, ‘normal’ has been used for a long time in the beauty industry to create a standard that only applies to a narrow group and describes products that don’t address specific needs,” Bracey tells Allure, explaining that the word has generally been equated to a Euro-centric view of beauty. Unilever, she says, wants to communicate what a product does — for example, replenish moisture — as opposed to dictating who it’s for or insinuating the desirability (or undesirability) of certain hair and skin characteristics. “At its core, this effort is about reflecting a more inclusive vision of beauty,” Bracey says.
This change was, in part, motivated by the results of a 10,000-person survey across Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the U.K., and the U.S. It found that more than seven in 10 participants agree that using the word “normal” on product packaging and advertising has a negative impact that makes…