by Peter Franklin
Wednesday, 10
March 2021
Spotted
09:25

How long before beauty itself becomes taboo?

Unilever is forcibly changing the definition of beauty
by Peter Franklin
Credit: Unilever

For countless generations we have suffered, but now the day of liberation is at hand!

The master of all our fates — Unilever plc — has announced that it will be removing the word ‘normal’ from its beauty products.


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Apparently it makes people feel excluded. However, a change of labels won’t change the fact that the beauty industry is all about norms and ideals. 

The company talks about reflecting a “broader definition of beauty”, but what does this actually mean? Here’s the marketing material:

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

Not discriminating against models because they’re not white is obviously a good thing. But this doesn’t broaden the definition of beauty anymore than not discriminating against non-white accountants broadens the definition of accountancy. All it means is that the industries involved aren’t as racist as they used to be.

Beauty — in the skin-deep sense — will remain inextricably linked to pre-existing signifiers of reproductive fitness. As such it is inherently exclusive, because most of us are rather less than perfect. 

The beauty and fashion industries may make a performance of using non-stereotypical models, but we know full well that most models will continue to be young, slender, tall and able-bodied. Furthermore, just about all of them will be identifiably male or female — indeed ideally masculine or feminine. 

The promise to minimise the use of digital alteration might seem to be a good thing. After all what could be more exclusive than a standard of beauty that isn’t physically achievable? Except that if Photoshop isn’t doing the heavy lifting then the burden shifts back to the model, the make-up artist, the hair dresser, the tanning salon, the fitness instructor and the dietician. What models go through to make the most of their looks is actually less realistic for most of us than editing an image on a mobile phone. 

Even if broadening the definition of beauty were possible, would it make it any less exclusive? If anything it would mean that those left on the outside feel even worse about themselves. It’s one thing not to attain a fantastical ideal, but another to see beauty all around you and still not make the grade. 

But then it’s in the interests of the beauty industry to make us feel that way. If the images they promote seem to be within reach, then everyone comes under greater pressure to make the effort and buy the product. 

Unless, that is, the backlash against unrealistic beauty standards snowballs into a taboo against all beauty standards. Wokeness doesn’t stay still, it is constantly pushing forward the frontiers of victimhood. How long before tolerance runs out for any business that seeks to change the way that people look?

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David Stanley
David Stanley
1 year ago

The problem with saying everyone is beautiful is that it is a lie that won’t survive contact with the outside world.
If I am beautiful then surely most straight women would want to sleep with me. The fact that they don’t is indicative of my lack of beauty.
No amount of well intentioned participation trophies will make up for the fact that Idris Elba is far more successful with women than I am. Of course, if there are any woke women out there who want to redress this disparity and help to ensure equality of outcome between me and Idris then they should get in touch.

Zap Zenn
Zap Zenn
1 year ago
Reply to  David Stanley

Does this mean that when we’re identical in every possible way we all get laid more? What would remain to fall in love with anyway? This cannot end well. Let’s celebrate diversity and not pretend it doesn’t exist.

Julia Wallis-Martin
Julia Wallis-Martin
1 year ago
Reply to  David Stanley

Will SJWs virtue signal by marrying ugly partners? I do hope so. It’s the least they deserve.

Aaron Kevali
Aaron Kevali
1 year ago

SJWs are already ugly themselves, always interiorly and often on the outside.
That is why they moan about beauty standards. They are inevitably losers; jealous and hateful towards those who they know are better than they are.

David Morley
David Morley
1 year ago

I think being ugly is quite bad enough without having some whining po faced SJW inflicted on them.

andrew harrison
andrew harrison
1 year ago

Well said, perhaps in order to solidify and uphold their virtue they have to sleep with at least one ugly person

M Spahn
M Spahn
1 year ago
Reply to  David Stanley

Participation trophies are what came to mind for me too. This very much seems like the product of the trophies-for-everyone generation.
I won’t object, however, if these beauty magazines want to insist that all men are tall. Although it is too late for me to put that on my dating profile.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago
Reply to  David Stanley

“If I am beautiful then surely most straight women would want to sleep with me. The fact that they don’t is indicative of my lack of beauty.”
Or money. Plenty of ugly rich men with really beautiful women.

Last edited 1 year ago by Annette Kralendijk
Allons Enfants
Allons Enfants
1 year ago
Reply to  David Stanley

Of course, if there are any woke women out there who want to redress this disparity and help to ensure equality of outcome between me and Idris then they should get in touch.

Have some standards, man!
I’m not a man, but if i was i’d rather sleep with sheep than with a woke woman.

Seb Dakin
Seb Dakin
1 year ago
Reply to  Allons Enfants

You wouldn’t run the risk of a date-rape accusation with the sheep.

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
1 year ago

Good luck selling beauty products by using ugly fat birds on your bill boards..

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
1 year ago

Well I think it worked quite well for Dove, which is a Unilever product. But I’m entirely sure.

Jos Haynes
Jos Haynes
1 year ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Dove is banned in this household – a harder, more abrasive soap would be difficult to find

hugh bennett
hugh bennett
1 year ago

sorry, cheap i know, but i cannot help but post a qoute…“Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bone.”― Dorothy Parker… is that a bit too unwoke ?

Julia Wallis-Martin
Julia Wallis-Martin
1 year ago

Go woke, go broke.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
1 year ago

Of course beauty is in the firing line. In the first place it is taboo in Modernism, an important element in current public orthodoxy. And why? Because aesthesis is a natural, human response – mixing sexuality and symmetry; and if Modernism means anything it is the destruction of the “human” – hence its deep hostility towards Classicism. True, the initial Modernist onslaught was directed against the Romantics, Bach was spared and Tchaikovsky denigrated – but Modernism, with its totalitarian aim of transcending the human condition, has late Romantic roots. It is coming for Classicism now – witness Gormley’s gormless twaddle on the subject of the British museum.
Second, “beauty” is an offense against “equality”; it is spontaneous and natural – all part of the organic reality of things and all hostile to Utopia. It represents the way in which masses of people automatically grant eminence to the few, when Left-Modernists aim for ant-like obedience to themselves.
Finally, beauty in every society has associations with deep cultural traditions, which in turn have ethnic overtones – the deepest offense against Left-Modernist dogma that there is.
Some will sigh and shrug and say this is all trivial. But it is when the political stoops so repeatedly to the apparently trivial that totalitarianism arises. First, they came for the beautiful…

Last edited 1 year ago by Simon Denis
Chris Jayne
Chris Jayne
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Agree entirely. And the second point is one one you can extrapolate to wider art and even human flourishing. This desperation to make everything only political is, to use their own phrase, toxic.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

The New Statesman this week has an article about the large increase in attempted suicides and self-harm by young girls. Apparently, they can be part of huge groups of ‘friends’ who share doctored photographs of their faces and their figures – this is making ‘ordinary’ girls feel suicidal.

Last edited 1 year ago by Chris Wheatley
Karen Lindquist
Karen Lindquist
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Hence a 4000% increase in young women ages 15-25 identifying as trans males.
I am so glad I’m old enough to have escaped growing up in such times. It was hard enough before the internet. Now nothing is real and everything is surface level.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

This has more to do with abusive internet practice than with beauty. To say otherwise is to imply that, yes, beauty must be devalued, a proceeding as inhumane and vulgar as the swarming of mobs over doctored images. Moreover, it will not be believed. Yes, you’ll force people to nod and offer lip-service to the notion that “fat is fun”, but this is just to cast oppression in a different mold. Rather we should re-educate the public in what beauty really means: the ennobling splendour of human form as rendered by the great masters, in age as well as youth; and this should not be devalued or equated with mere “beach readiness”. And “beach readiness” itself is only toxic in an obsessive, molly-coddling world which reacts to advantage with such envy that it excites the pain of deprivation. Anyone in agony because they aren’t as beautiful as the girl next door should recall that they might well be cleverer, more talented, more deeply beloved, with brighter prospects. Better still, they should recall that the ONLY answer to self-immiserating envy is generosity, and learn to glory in the joys and splendours of other people. Your property is mine if I can rejoice in its mere existence. The left’s answer, brutal deprivation, merely impoverishes the whole world.

Last edited 1 year ago by Simon Denis
David George
David George
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Compare yourself to who you were yesterday. Not to who someone else is today. J B Peterson

Aaron Kevali
Aaron Kevali
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Nothing is uglier than vanity girls.
These silly teens who top themselves should have been instructed by their parents to be less shallow (and off social media too!). If one would rather die than be anything less than perfect, that’s just pathetic. Another fruit of modern nihilism.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Extremely well put

Sharon Overy
Sharon Overy
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

On the YT channel, The New Culture Forum, the painter Jonathon Myles-Lea told an anecdote about a trip to Rome, about a decade ago, with a friend and his friend/colleague. This other person was an academic of some sort, that would no doubt now be considered ‘Woke’, and wasn’t enjoying this trip.

As a conviction atheist she wouldn’t go into old churches, cathedrals etc. and wouldn’t see galleries of Renaissance art because of the Biblical subjects. She wasn’t interested in Roman ruins or statuary because of the Patriarchy of the Caesars.

Myles-Lea said to her that he understood her not liking the subject matter of these works and what they represented, but could she not just enjoy them for the skill on display, the beauty.

She responded, in all seriousness, “Beauty is Fascist”!

Imagine the ‘Utopia’ that such people want.

Jos Haynes
Jos Haynes
1 year ago

If beauty is to be cancelled, I guess its intelligence next.
Oh sorry, I forgot. That’s been cancelled already.

Allons Enfants
Allons Enfants
1 year ago
Reply to  Jos Haynes

Beauty, intelligence, sanity. All ‘oppressive’ ‘privileges’.
A few years ago this German family magazine ‘Baby & Family’ made it into the news, claiming that ‘nice, normal, well-behaved children likely have rightwing parents’, who are therefore the enemy of the people:
https://www.breitbart.com/europe/2016/09/25/blond-cheerful-families-dangerous-right/
[The identifying features of right-wing families, it contends, are that they are “inconspicuous, blond, cute and engaged”.
“First of all, [right-wing families] are nice and dedicated” Michaela Köttig, sociologist and researcher of right-wing extremism at the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences, alleges.
Researcher of right-wing politics, Eva Prausner, says a huge danger of right-wing families is that they seem normal. Because of this, she says many parents will already have established good relations with them to the point that they “are no longer marginalised and at worst, get support”.(…) etc.]

Last edited 1 year ago by Allons Enfants
Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 year ago

Unless, that is, the backlash against unrealistic beauty standards snowballs into a taboo against all beauty standards. 
What else do you expect? This is how activism works, no matter the issue. And this is an old argument, too, the notion of standards as realistic or not. There is nothing new here because the wokeltarians attacking ‘normal’ as a concept. A couple of magazines in the US put severely overweight women on their covers with the caption “this is healthy.” No, it isn’t and anyone with more than single-digit IQ knows it.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

It is not quite how activism works. The role of gate keeper is key. You only get a platform for you activism if the gate keepers allow it and you only get an audience if the gate keepers promote you and your cause.

Seb Dakin
Seb Dakin
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Someone needs to tell the coronavirus that severely overweight is healthy. It seems it didn’t get the memo.

Karen Lindquist
Karen Lindquist
1 year ago

I’m waiting for the SJW movement to cancel biological women for being too feminine, as it makes trans identifying biological men feel sad.
Soon all billboards will be of ugly men because women’s beauty is obviously hateful. Progress.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 year ago

The silence of the alleged feminists has been a sight to behold. The trans movement dismisses the entirety of feminist dogma, real women are attacked and harmed, and still nothing.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Check out the new gender identity – Super Straight.

Seb Dakin
Seb Dakin
1 year ago

Five, ten, years ago I would have thought that some of what passes for discourse these days was parody, and not very subtle at that. And yet here we are. The awful thing is that by the twisted logic of the times what you’re saying seems not merely possible but inevitable. You’d probably have to call the ugly men women though, to match the pronouns they affect to prefer.

G Matthews
G Matthews
1 year ago

The day Unilever shows an obsese child guzzling a tub of Walls ice cream in one of its adverts I will take them seriously.

Margaret Donaldson
Margaret Donaldson
1 year ago

The comment about hair shampoo is interesting. In my blissfully unenlightened ignorance, I thought normal hair was neither oily nor dry. An empirical description. How will different beauty products now be described? This could be fun for the irreverent and politically incorrect. (Note outdated term, dear, dear, naughty, naughty.)

Feld Grau
Feld Grau
1 year ago

Spot on. Went to pick up a prescription yesterday and I was mesmerized by the shade of fingernail polish the young man behind the counter was wearing. Still trying to make sense of it.

Scott Carson
Scott Carson
1 year ago
Reply to  Feld Grau

What colour was his lipstick?

Sharon Overy
Sharon Overy
1 year ago

This is indeed just performance and a ridiculous one at that.

The only context that I can think of where personal care products use the term “normal” is in skin or hair care, and it has nothing to do with appearance. It’s about how one’s skin behaves – does it tend to get oily, irritated or dry etc., “normal” skin being untroubled by such things.

I have never heard or seen anyone complain that this made them ‘uncomfortable’ in any way.ever

Unilever have invented a problem (supposed exclusion) just to virtue-signal by ‘fixing’ it.

Pathetic!

Last edited 1 year ago by Sharon Overy
jerry lawler
jerry lawler
1 year ago

Lurching toward Kurt Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron

Pierre Pendre
Pierre Pendre
1 year ago

Compare Caitlyn Jenner without make up with her Vanity Fair cover. The media depiction of beauty is often fake. (How long did it take the VF beauticians to get her to look like that?)
In real life most women’s faces are attractive, even a plain face if you look at it long enough. Real beauty is quite rare. Marilyn Monroe didn’t have a beautiful face although she was undeniably pretty; her attractiveness was more complex than just her face. Same with Bardot.
I watched a Romy Schneider film the other night. She really was beautiful and when she smiled, it was breathtaking.
We don’t have the French concept of the jolie laide in English though we have the type and jolie laideur is as fascinating as beauty.
I don’t think I’ve ever met a girl with fire engine red lips such as are seen on screen. The best cosmetics for my taste are unobtrusive.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
1 year ago

Facial Justice, L. P. Hartley, recommend

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
1 year ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Yes. I was thinking of that book, too.

Ernest DuBrul
Ernest DuBrul
1 year ago

Beauty…will remain inextricably linked to pre-existing signifiers of reproductive fitness.
This is the most important sentence in Mr. Franklin’s article, and something very similar can be applied to all instances of modern attempts at cultural change.
The fact of the matter is that we are what we are and we act as we have been selected to act. In the end, try as you might, but you can’t fool Mother Nature.

Joe Donovan
Joe Donovan
1 year ago

Jordan Peterson has been known to get exorcised about lipstick in the workplace as an obvious “sexual signifier,” like ruby baboon butts. People think I’m nuts, but after I’m gone, in 20 years or so, I predict that either no one will wear makeup in the workplace, or everyone, regardless of gender (will gender still exist?), will.

Simon Holder
Simon Holder
1 year ago

I find Unilever’s assault on beauty both offensive and toxic, to use woke parlance. I think many models will take offence because they understandably want to be seen as beautiful – it is their desire and raison d’etre. How much more of normal life (in its most generous interpretation) is going to be trashed before common sense and respect for people’s cultural and ethnic differences are truly applauded rather than airbrushed by the woke twitterati (yes, I think they’re mostly twits) into everyone having to have a visible disability or spot in order to satisfy the wokerati’s virtue-signalling? Surely, that’s the point of beauty: to some people, big girl’s bottoms are a turn-on, to others they are not. So will all models soon have to conform to having a medium bottom with spots and blemishes to make firms like Unilever feel proud of their intrusion into the business of sexual attraction, as if it was a sin? That’s the whole point of sexual attraction, which has also been selling vast quantities of expensive gunk to girls (oh, all right – and boys, and transgenders, and.. oh, you get my drift) to make them feel better. I will applaud the firm that cherishes beauty rather than makes people feel guilty about it. Economics will ensure that: if no-one wants to buy their products, they will find another way to make beauty attractive that doesn’t appear to be woke. Than God for human ingenuity! And beauty!

Allie McBeth
Allie McBeth
1 year ago

If they broaden the definition of beauty to include me, I won’t really need to buy many of their products.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
1 year ago

I read yesterday that makers of shampoos had chosen to avoid the term, ‘normal hair’, on the labels of their shampoos. People will feel offended if their hair is not ‘normal’.

Last edited 1 year ago by Chris Wheatley
David Stanley
David Stanley
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I’m bald so all shampoo offends me. Maybe I should start a social justice campaign? I could get Prince William to join me. He could marry Gail Porter, get interviewed by Oprah and talk about how oppressed they both are.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  David Stanley

I missed your better comment before posting

Judy Posner
Judy Posner
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

A brilliant example! This is certainly the direction in which we are going. Soon the entire world will be “above average” in all their capacities. It’s a little bit like “alternative facts.”

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

All hair products must be banned. What bout the feelings of the folically challenged?

Jeff Andrews
Jeff Andrews
1 year ago

This firm is doing everything to go bust. They thought Harry’s Razors was going to save them, then they wanted to save the planet, now despite the govts desperation to make fat people thin to stop corona, they promote that.
I bet since they’re now London listed we’d have to bail them out.

Last edited 1 year ago by Jeff Andrews
Lindsay Gatward
Lindsay Gatward
1 year ago

If you want to appear young and slim then hang around old fat people. Perceived beauty is not constant with time, plumpness was associated with wealth and health but now with the opposite. Dumbing down just doesn’t work with beauty. The real test of all this fakery will be sex robots indistinguishable from real human beauty in looks and touch.

Last edited 1 year ago by Lindsay Gatward
Terence Fitch
Terence Fitch
1 year ago

If morbid obesity becomes normal then it’ll become despised by the woke. This is good news.

Aaron Kevali
Aaron Kevali
1 year ago

“but we know full well that most models will continue to be young, slender, tall and able-bodied.”
Obviously. When they say “broader definition of beauty”, they just mean more fatties. I don’t think even the fashion mags could stomach trannies on their front covers, although…
As for more models of various ethnicities, if that is what the customers want to see. If they don’t want this then the fashion industry can expect to start losing money. Sometimes they become a parody of themselves, look up “Maminydjama Maymuru” and tell me with a straight face that this woman is beautiful. I’m sure she’s a lovely woman, got nothing against her, but pretty she is not.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
1 year ago

This is excellent news, for me at any rate, since the most under-represented section of society in Unilever’s ads is the white, middle-aged-verging-on-elderly, straight male.
Now where did I put my comb?

Natalija Svobodné
Natalija Svobodné
1 year ago

“Beauty” products…. I’m sure that word will become some kind of divisive hate speech to be expunged for the english lexicon. Much like those supremacist imperialistic concepts of talented, logical and gifted.
Oh that we should be equally mediocre, and subpar together! what a social victory that would be! Life begins to resemble 1984.
Double-plus-ungood

Crab mentality, Wokeism also known as crabs in a bucket mentality, is a way of thinking best described by the phrase “if I can’t have it, neither can you”. The metaphor is derived from a pattern of behavior noted in crabs when they are trapped in a bucket.
In psychology, this behavior became known as “The Crab Effect,” or “The Crab Mentality,” as a way to illustrate the selfish, harmful, and jealous mindset of some members in a group, who will try to undermine and halt the progress of the other better-performing members in the group
Wokeism is selfishness, wish to harm, and jealousy dressed up as virtue.

Last edited 1 year ago by Natalija Svobodné
Jeffrey Chongsathien
Jeffrey Chongsathien
1 year ago

I’d find it hilarious if all makeup was banned overnight. Then we’d see what women actually looked like, instead of the clownish lie.

Hugh R
Hugh R
1 year ago

Trust me, its not all a bed of roses – there are days when I feel like a piece of meat.