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Unilever is eliminating the word ‘normal’ from all of its beauty and personal care brands’ packaging and advertising, as part of the launch of its new Positive Beauty vision and strategy.

Positive Beauty, which sets out several progressive commitments and actions for its beauty and personal care brands, including Dove, Lifebuoy, TRESemme, Simple and Sunsilk, will “champion a new era of beauty, which is equitable and inclusive, as well as sustainable for the planet”.

“We recognise that images portraying a certain kind of beauty affect all of us – men, women, children and people of all ages and ethnicities,” says Markus Redhe, general manager of beauty personal care and homecare, Unilever Australia and New Zealand. 

“We are committed to tackling harmful norms and stereotypes and shaping a broader, far more inclusive definition of beauty.”

According to Unilever, the removal of normal from its packaging and advertising falls under its broader commitment to ending discrimination in beauty and championing inclusion.

Positive beauty will also help to drive a transformation in how Unilever’s products are designed and formulated so that they do more good for both people and the planet, delivering a superior product experience, and tap into consumer trends. 

Unilever’s Australian-made bottles – Dove, TRESemme and Toni & Guy – are already made with 25-70 per cent recycled plastic, and in 2020, the company gave a new lease on life to over 900 tonnes of plastic. 

Innovation will also advance the use of more natural, biodegradable and regenerative ingredients, alongside continued packaging innovations that use less, better or no plastic. 

“We know that removing ‘normal’ from our products and packaging will not fix the problem alone, but it is an important step forward,” explains Sunny Jain, president, beauty and personal care. 

“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.”

In addition to the removal of the word ‘normal’, Unilever will also not digitally alter a person’s body shape, size, proportion or skin colour in its brand advertising – something Dove has already been doing since 2018 – and will increase the portrayal of more diverse groups who are under-represented.

The decision came about after global research, commissioned by Unilever, was conducted into people’s experiences of the beauty industry revealed that using ‘normal’ made people feel excluded. The 10,000-person study, conducted across nine countries found that:

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

“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,” says Sarah Degnan Kambou, president of the International Centre for Research on Women. 

“We look forward to seeing Unilever advance these commitments and hold themselves to the high standards they have set out before them.”

Positive Beauty follows the launch of Clean Future, the sustainable business strategy of Unilever’s home care division in September 2020, and Future Foods, the sustainable business strategy for its foods and refreshment division in November 2020.

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