Unilever to stop using the word 'normal' on advertising and products like Dove - here's why

Unilever is aiming to create a more 'inclusive' definition of beauty (Photo: Shutterstock)Unilever is aiming to create a more 'inclusive' definition of beauty (Photo: Shutterstock)
Unilever is aiming to create a more 'inclusive' definition of beauty (Photo: Shutterstock)

Unilever, owner of beauty brands Dove and Simple, is to drop use of the word "normal" on beauty products to be more inclusive.

The multinational group also announced it would be banning excessive editing of model photos used as part of marketing. This ban will include photographs of models alongside any social media influencers used to promote Unilever beauty products.

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Management said Unilever wants to accommodate a "more inclusive definition of beauty", having previously faced allegations of pushing harmful stereotypes around dark skin tones.

'A new era of beauty that's inclusive, equitable and sustainable'

Removal of the word "normal" from products will be a first step in promoting this more inclusive definition, hopes Unilever, with the firm's president of beauty and personal care products, Sunny Jain, saying: "We know that removing 'normal' from our products and packaging will not fix the problem alone, but it is an important step forward."

The changes will be made from next year, with Unilever promising further action beyond this as part of "a new era of beauty that's inclusive, equitable and sustainable".

Further commitment include increasing the number of people from under represented groups shown in adverts and using ingredients that are more natural and biodegradable in beauty products.

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Past controversies

The move comes after a series of criticisms levelled at Unilever products in recent years, with a skin lightening cream sold across Asia coming under fire.

Last year, Unilever rebranded the cream - previously named Fair and Lovely to Glow and Lovely, but has not bowed to pressure to stop selling the product, saying it has "never been and is not a skin bleaching cream".

In 2017, the company was criticised for a Facebook advert campaign which showed a black woman taking off her t-shirt to reveal a white woman beneath her skin. The third image then showed the white woman undressing to reveal an Asian woman.

Big brands are increasingly becoming sensitive to consumer demands for sustainable, socially aware products, with fallouts from controversies hitting sales.

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This isn't the first time Unilever has expressed support for social issues, launching the Crown Fund UK in January to stop discrimination around black hairstyles.

Ben & Jerry's ice cream, meanwhile, has voiced support for a number of social and environmental issues, including the Black Lives Matter protests.