On Dove and “Normal” Skin Colour: A Quick Follow-Up

This is a follow-up to yesterday’s (still, to me, scarily) personal view I posted on here, regarding how Dove’s use of the word ‘normal’ to denote a particular skin tone, made me feel, as a non-white woman: On Why Dove’s Moisturiser for Normal to Dark Skin is Harmful to Self-Esteem.

It’s been a deeply bizarre 48 hours for me, but, after the awesome support on Twitter yesterday from many of you, it looks like Dove have investigated, and released a full statement on the issue, left both in the comments of my post, and in a post on Facebook. It reads:

Dove is committed to representing beauty of all ages, ethnicities, shapes and sizes. We believe in celebrating real beauty and in raising the self-esteem of women and young girls globally.

We found out that our European team was already aware of the mistake regarding labelling on Dove Summer Glow Body Lotion bottles. Many of our lotions focus on moisturization as the key benefit and in some cases we label them “normal to dry skin.” The Dove Summer Glow Body Lotion is a gradual self tanner that also moisturizes. It should have been marked as “fair to medium skin” or “medium to dark skin” depending on the skin type it focuses on. In this case, there was an oversight from our team and we accidently combined the phrases. As soon as our teams in Europe discovered this error, they began the process of relabeling the bottles. These will start appearing on shelf this summer. We are also in the process of correcting the language in our other communication vehicles where possible. As always, we appreciate the feedback and support from our community.

I will not, at this point, make assumptions about the nature of the error – though, as CBC’s Storify report on this issue notes, the UK Website for the product still lists it as ‘Normal to Dark Skin’, as of time of writing. I hope the change to the print is made soon, and the reprinted bottles hit stores sooner rather than later.

I am, however, very appreciative that Dove responded in the way that they did, and with such relative timeliness.

I’ve also been blown away by the messages of support to my last post. I hope I can respond to each one of you soon, because you made an uncomfortable experience far easier than it could have been. Until then, to all of you, thank you. Also, thank you once again to Laura for kicking this off, and campaigning tirelessly to bring this to attention.

While I do feel reassured that Dove has admitted guilt and wrongness by acknowledging that the labelling was a “mistake”and an “oversight”, this still brings the wider issue to the fore: why were there so many who chose to jump to trying to rationalise the use of “normal”? It’s this awful, galling feeling that I am finding difficult to reconcile. It feels, sadly, in many ways, like an empty success. After all, what does it all say about how quick we are to accept such things, even when they are later shown to be wrong?