Columnist

Dave Molter is a freelance writer and Golden Quill and Keystone Press Awards winner. He also is a freelance musician in the Pittsburgh area.

I’m really steamed at my body wash.

For the past 10 years I’ve been buying one marked “for normal skin.” Now, thanks to a decision by personal care and beauty product giant Unilever, I’ll no longer be able to do so. Instead, I’ll have to spend extra time at the supermarket wringing my chapped hands over whether my skin is “dry” or, worse yet, “sensitive.” And if I have the latter, will it be offended by being called “sensitive.”

That’s because Unilever on Tuesday announced that it will remove the word “normal” from more than 200 of its products. The company owns brands such as Dove, Axe, Vaseline and Sunsilk. The announcement came after a Unilever spokeswoman revealed the results of a 10,000-person study conducted in nine countries, including Brazil, China, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and the United States. Fifty-six percent of participants felt that the beauty industry could make people feel excluded. Seven in 10 people agreed that the word “normal” on products and in advertising had negative effects.

I’m sorry, but those results just can’t be real.

I learned many moons ago that there is no such thing as “normal.” What’s usual for you is not necessarily commonplace for me. I’ve never felt that the beauty industry is trying to make me feel “abnormal” by suggesting that I have dry skin, or need a dandruff shampoo. In fact, I think that contemporary humans have become too easily miffed, too easily aggravated. We see insult everywhere we look. So, my feet are big, honking, aircraft-carrier sized aberrations? Perhaps, my friend, your tiny cloven feet are all that’s required to balance the weight of your miniscule brain!

Neither am I a subscriber to the “cancel culture” theory that many people – particularly those of the political right wing – use to explain away changes they don’t agree with. Just because Hershey’s now markets a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup that has a shell made from peanut butter – not chocolate – doesn’t mean that the original Peanut Butter Cup has been “canceled” by Joe Biden and those Commie Pinko Socialists who voted for him.

I am well aware that I am a white male in a world controlled for the most part by white males. But I understand things like gender- and fat-shaming, and I can, sadly, see the need to place disclaimers on decades-old TV series such has “The Muppet Show.” That’s because, given the fact that many people apparently take everything they see and read literally, I think it’s good that we explain that not all Muppets who wear a keffiyeh and dishdasha represent terrorists. Neither did all blacks in the American Civil War-era South make pancakes and quick-cooking rice, as Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben products might suggest.

But c’mon, people! If you feel marginalized by seeing a beauty product labeled “normal,” you just might need emotional counseling – which, I might add, should not make you feel marginalized, either. Yet, I can see the logic behind not putting certain phrases on certain personal care products.

New Right Guard Maximum deodorant! For “extra-stinky armpits.”

Raise your arm if you agree.

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