The one word you won't see on Dove products anymore

·3-min read

One of the world's most popular beauty and personal care brands has announced it will remove the word 'normal' from all advertising and packaging in an effort to become more inclusive.

Unilever who own brands Dove, TRESemmé, Sunsilk, St Ives and Simple among other personal care brands, said their research showed 74 per cent of people surveyed want to see the industry represent a broader definition of beauty and it all starts with the word 'normal'.

In the past the word has been used to define skin, body and hair type on products, however Unilever found through a survey of 10,000 people across nine countries (USA, Brazil, UK, Nigeria, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, India, Indonesia and China), seven in 10 said the word ‘normal’ on beauty product packaging has a negative effect on people.

dove
Unilever who own Dove, among other brands, has announced it will remove the word 'normal' from all advertising and packaging in an effort to become more inclusive. Source: Getty

Six in 10 said the industry creates a singular ideal of who or what is ‘normal’ and that made them feel they should look a certain way.

“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," Sunny Jain, President of Unilever Beauty and Personal Care, said in a media release.

"As part of this, we are committed to tackling harmful norms and stereotypes and shaping a broader, far more inclusive definition of beauty.

“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."

Mixed reaction to removal of 'normal'

The announcement has seen strong reaction on social media with just as many praising the move as those who feel it is political correction gone too far.

"I have oily skin. I’m offended please remove that word too. If I have normal hair, it means I don’t have dry/damaged/oily. It’s just normal!" one person wrote on Twitter.

"All skin colours have dry/oily/normal skin types. You could be fair and still have oily skin. How's this inclusive? It just makes it more confusing to choose between products," another person commented.

"Wonderful message. This needed to be said. Really love this," a user said on Instagram wrote.

'Nonsensical measurement'

Others pointed out the message that one person's definition of 'normal' could be totally different for another person, and was always a confusing way to describe personal care products.

"It’s a nonsensical measurement. How do I know if my scalp is “normal”? And how do we know that Pantene’s 'normal' is Dove’s 'normal'," one person wrote

"It’s like buying shoes. Someone’s feet could be size 7 in one brand and size 9 in another."

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In addition to removing ‘normal’ from ads and packs, Unilever has also committed to end all digital alterations that change a person’s body shape, size, proportions or skin colour, and to increase the number of advertising portraying people from diverse, under-represented groups.

A spokeswoman for Unilever told The New York Times the company had over 200 products that included the word ‘normal’ on the packaging.

Unilever has already started the removal process, with aims to have it fully completed by March 2022.

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