Monday, 17 August 2009

life pharmacy promotes beauty

i received an email from nicola skews, woman's representative for young labour, regarding a complaint letter she wrote to life pharmacy about a current promotion they're running. i'm reproducing her letter and the life pharmacy reply, with her permission. here is her complaint:

Kia Ora,

As the New Zealand Young Labour Women’s Representative, I am charged with representing many young women across the country. It is my job that their best interests are promoted, and issues that may be relevant are brought to their attention.

Yesterday I was appalled to pass a Life Pharmacy window display that advertised a venture by Life Pharmacy, Shiseido and WORLD to give away free tote-bags with slogans that said “If you’re good at anything, make it beauty” and “If the result is beauty the method is justified!”

Not only are these regressive in terms of promoting positive self image, the mentality behind the latter slogan could be harmful to women struggling with self confidence or eating disorders.

The idea that ‘if the result is beauty the method is justified’, is rather scary when you consider the following figures:
· In developed societies, anorexia nervosa is the third most common chronic illness for young females. It is ten times more common than insulin dependent diabetes.
· 15 – 19 year old females 0.5%; 20 – 24 year old females 0.25%
· Risk of successful suicide is 32 times that expected for same aged population.

These are only some of the statistics, for only one form of negative body image.
With a constant bombardment of images and expectations reinforcing a mainstream view of beauty, it is no wonder so many young women struggle with self confidence, which doesn’t always go away with age or remain a just an insecurity. Promoting slogans which imply anything you do for beauty is justified as long as you achieve it, is an unbelievably unhealthy message.

WORLD proudly states that they have a “take it or leave it attitude” in their merchandise, but the women of Young Labour (and no doubt other women) would hugely appreciate a company making a difference and taking a stand on body image and unhealthy slogans.

Please reconsider your current promotion, and make a difference to the self confidence of young women who are sick of being encouraged to achieve ‘beauty’ no matter what it takes.
Nicole Skews
New Zealand Young Labour Women’s Rep

and here is the reply:

Dear Ms Skews

Thank you for your feedback on our current Shiseido / World Promotion and for taking time to present us with a very detailed commentary
in support of your feedback.

Life Pharmacy and Shiseido brands are both very focused on the wellbeing of our customers and women in general. We contribute regularly and generously to many charity foundations to support New Zealanders in a wide range of health matters. In addition, the Shiseido philosophy centres around making the customer feel beautiful on the inside and outside
[yeah? i've missed the beautiful on the inside promotion, where do we find that?]. We also mutually share the philosophy of ‘beauty at any age’ (meaning, look fantastic for your age, rather than trying to alter your age [what??]). With that background in mind we felt we could have a little fun with the World brand with the chosen slogans and that these would not be interpreted too literally.

To date, an overwhelming number of customers have chosen to freely participate in this promotion. The feedback to our store teams on the bag slogans in particular, has echoed sentiments of fun and light hearted frivolity. We do however understand that, as with any promotion, consumers may choose not to participate for a various number of reasons of which we greatly respect.

We apologise if you have been unintentionally offended by the slogans chosen and once again thank you for taking time to bring your views to our attention.

Yours sincerely
Jacquie Dabrowski

Merchandise Manager - Beauty
Life Pharmacy Limited

ah, the steve-crow-donate-to-marginally-related-charities defence, and the "it's just a joke" defence. not particularly original, and not particularly helpful. on it's own, the "if the result is beauty the method is justified" implied self-harm message is not a big deal, but when it feeds hundreds of messages women get every day that the pursuit of beauty is the only thing of value, yeah it has an impact. it seems that the main purpose of the beauty industry is to make women feel naturally ugly.


A Nonny Moose said...

With the "other woman like it, so what's the problem?" defence, it tells me that with negative images like this, not only does the company need re-educating, but some women need a bit of an eye opener.

However, when I've brought up this issues in the past (in my own circle), I've been accused of being a feminazi with a superiority complex :/

Boganette said...

What the Hell is a "Shiseido philosophy centre".

Anonymous said...

Nonny Moose, I wouldn't take being told that I need my "eyes opened" particularly well, either. Perhaps your friends don't appreciate being told what to think...? "If only your eyes were open, you would see the world in exactly the same way that I do".

Though I agree that the merging of sexism and capitalism has caused a lot of damage.

C said...

Just a quick correction - it's Nicole Skews, not Nicola Skews.

And Nicole has a point. Their campaign, although they don't see it this way, promotes insecurities amony the female community and feeds off it.

Jag's software guide said...

It was a nice article.

Anonymous said...