Saturday, March 18, 2006

Oh no where will I buy my ethical beauty products now?

I hate the body shop, have a for very long time. I've never had a use for the dumb soaps and gels and whatever they make (although I did go through a stage when I was 14 of buying them as presents for friends, if I didn't know what else to get them). They're such a huge part of the idea that it's alternative and a moral good to be healthy, and what it means to be healthy is to fit a traditional idea of beautiful that I'd happily watch as every single one of their stores burnt to the ground. So I was highly amused when I heard that The Body Shop had been bought by L'Oreal, and that Anita Roddick is personally over 100 million pounds richer.

Now the Body Shop is particularly awful, other 'ethical' businesses are built on something slightly more solid than making money on women's insecurities about their bodies. But that doesn't mean that any form of ethical businesses will make any difference to the way our worked works. If it makes you feel any better to buy 'fair-trade' coffee and chocolate then go ahead, it won't harm anyone.

The thing is that consumers who want their products made in a certain way are no threat to capitalism. It doesn't matter whether people want pink products, or products that are slightly less exploitative, if there are enough of them (and they're prepared to pay) they become a market and that need can be met. You're not going to challenge capitalism by buying stuff (or even by not buying stuff). L'Oreal buying the Body Shop is the natural and expected outcome of a project that was always about making money.

Also posted on Alas

1 comment:

  1. Capitalism is really hard to fight. Just about everyone could turn on it and it would still putter along based on the few people who still use it. In some senses it would work even better.

    Defeating/irradiating it would take ruthless force.