Dove is challenging beauty standards by banning the world 'normal' from all of its products
via Unilever

How many TV ads have you seen pitching shampoo "for normal to oily hair" or lotion "for normal skin"? Probably more than you can count. The problem is when it comes to beauty products, the term "normal" has always seemed to be code for "white."

For decades, this white-normative labeling has sent a subtle, but damaging message to people of color by casting them as abnormal. It also reinforces notions of white supremacy by heralding white people as the measuring stick for all humanity.

That's why Unilever, the London-based company that owns Dove, Vaseline, Axe, and Sunsilk beauty products is banning the term from their products and advertising. The move comes after the company conducted a 10,000-person study across nine countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa.

via Unilever

According to a Unilever press release the poll found that "More than half of people (56%) think that the beauty and personal care industry can make people feel excluded."

It also revealed that "Seven in ten people agree that using the word 'normal' on product packaging and advertising has a negative impact."

"The decision to remove 'normal' is one of many steps that we are taking to challenge narrow beauty ideals, as we work towards helping to end discrimination and advocating for a more inclusive vision of beauty," Unilever said in its release. "It comes as global research into people's experiences of the beauty industry reveals that using 'normal' to describe hair or skin makes most people feel excluded."

The announcement was accompanied by a video that explains how many of the norms we've been conditioned to accept — especially those surrounding masculinity, beauty, health, animal rights, pollution, and sexuality — are really quite the opposite.

"We won't accept a world where any of this is normal," the ads says.

The company wants to reposition its messaging so it focuses on what the product does rather than who it's for.

"Unilever has made the most progress with hair products, where 'normal' was removed or repositioned and replaced it with descriptions that highlight the benefit of the product," a company representative told The Washington Post. "We want to communicate what a product does — not who it is for — without the manufactured description of 'normal.' For example, we'll explain that a product will replenish moisture or help to meet specific needs."

A company representative says Unilever has over 200 products with the word "normal" on the label. It has already started the removal process and hopes to be completed by March 2022.

Ateh Jewel, an advisory board member of the British Beauty Council, told The New York Times the changes were "completely necessary" after the Black Lives Matter demonstrations last year.

"Saying the word 'normal' has been used to set you apart," Jewel said. "I am normal. My dark skin is normal. My juicy West African curvy body is normal. Everything about me is normal."

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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