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No more ‘normal’

18 March, 2021

Issues around gender have been brought into sharp focus these last few weeks and how we tackle them effectively has become front of mind for everyone. 

Although few businesses have responded directly to the outcry on women’s safety, we do think these issues need to be tackled from all fronts, and business has an integral role to play in reducing gender inequalities. One of the many aspects at play is the issue of how women are portrayed in advertising and tackling harmful norms and stereotypes. 

In a recent study, 69% of UK people said that the beauty industry was guilty of pressurising people into thinking that they needed to look a certain way, contributing to narrow-minded views on what women ‘should’ look like. 

This week Unilever, one of the world’s largest advertisers in the beauty and care division, announced they will remove the word “normal” from products to improve their inclusivity. They’ve also vowed to end “any digital alteration to change a person’s body shape, size, proportion or skin colour, across all advertising material,” including influencers paid by the company to promote products. 

Unilever is not the first in the industry to remove digital alteration, CVS a retailer in the US, last year introduced a ‘Beauty Unaltered’ label on products that have not been digitally enhanced. And earlier this year in the UK, social media influencers were told they can no longer use ‘misleading’ filters on beauty adverts by the ASA.  

So, whilst inclusivity in the beauty industry might feel far removed from current issues, a shift towards honest and positive female self-expression remains part of the puzzle of combating gender inequality from all fronts, and these steps may help. 

By Gemma Coate

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