'Normal' Is the New N-Word

(Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)

The home products giant Unilever has banned the use of the word “normal” in all its product descriptions in the interests of inclusivity.” According to Reuters:


Dove soap maker Unilever will remove the word “normal” from its beauty and personal care products, as well as stop digital alterations of body shapes and skin color of models used in its advertising, in a push to be more inclusive.

The move from the London-based company, which is one of the top advertisers in the world, comes as it tries to move beyond the backlash it has faced for some of its advertising campaigns.

Unilever was pushed to rename its top selling skin-lightening brand in India to “Glow & Lovely” from “Fair & Lovely” last year after facing consumer ire over negatively stereotyping darker skin tones.


Who knew that intersectionality had embraced as an oppressed category people living with greasy skin?

I have not confirmed reports that Disney is planning to re-brand “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” as “Snow-Glow and the Seven People Living With Vertical Challenge.”

It’s anti-inclusive to call anything or anyone “normal.” “Average” isn’t going to work, because it sounds too much like normal. I’d suggest “Gaussian” (the mathematical term for a “normal” distribution), except that the Gaussian distribution is also called the Bell Curve, and “The Bell Curve” is the title of a book by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray about which I can’t say anything, or they’ll take away my Twitter account.


So, I guess it’s anything goes.

We can’t talk about a “normal” temperature — maybe the Newspeak term “unfever” would do in its place? And after an urban riot, we daren’t say that “things are back to normal,” because that implies that the systemic racism of everyday life is an acceptable, steady-state sort of condition of the world.

And no more “Young Frankenstein” jokes about a brain from “Abby Normal.” We might damage the self-esteem of seven-foot creatures assembled from dead body parts.

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