Why can’t things just be perfect? I think this every time we get news that the things we think of as “good” are just as murky and broken as everything else. Today, I am disappointed by Lush, they of the sparkly bath bombs and the shops you can smell from 100 metres away. We have sung the praises of Lush before because, in so many ways, they are a great company. They have protested against cuts to disability benefits, they publicly backed Black Lives Matter, they don’t test on animals, they use almost 100 per cent recycled packaging, they fund grassroots campaigning – all great things. But, as happens so often, sometimes, in their efforts to do good things and change the world positively, they end up contributing to problems elsewhere.
Lush is supporting What The Health, a film all about how big businesses and governments are working together to make people sick, and to promote the premiere they shared this Instagram post on Thursday night:
The post shares some of the information in the What The Health film and, flicking through, a lot of the other images are talking about food and weight. One image states that “Two thirds of adults are either overweight or obese”, another talks about the dangers of sausages and bacon, a third states that “Most kids by the age of 10 have fatty streaks in their arteries” and another solemnly declares that “70% of death and morbidity are largely lifestyle related and preventable”.
It’s this last one that gets me the most. Although it could be talking about lifestyle issues such as smoking or drinking, taken with five other facts that are about fat or things related to fatness then the automatic link is that these “lifestyle related” problems are around weight, too. Basically, this post is saying “Fat people are going to die and it’s their own lazy fault”. Wonderful. Cheers, Lush.
Fat people get told they’re bad for being fat a lot. I had to turn off my radio alarm because, every morning, I was waking up to news broadcasts about how unhealthy I was, how I was causing strain on the NHS, how I was going to die early because I couldn’t control my disgusting, greedy nature. We hear it when we go to the doctor, and sometimes serious medical issues which are totally unrelated to our weight are ignored because doctors can only focus on our fat bodies. We hear it from strangers on the internet and sometimes strangers on the street who are weirdly obsessed with “our health”, even though they don’t give a shit about the health of the other people around them. You think fatness is bad. Fine. We get it.
So, you know what fat people don’t need? We don’t need a company who sells pretty things to put in your bath to tell us how bad we are for being fat. We don’t need a company which is all about doing good for the world and actively fighting to end racial prejudices, homophobia, class inequality and animal cruelty to join in with fat-shaming. We don’t need a company which proudly declares in their Twitter header that “All are welcome. Always” to qualify that with a “But if you are fat, we are going to make you feel bad about it”. There are plenty of facts on the What The Health website that Lush could have chosen to put on Instagram – facts about mental health, the risks of eating meat, the links between fibre and breast cancer and heart disease – so the fact they only chose to focus on issues around fat and weight is telling.
Lush has posted an apology on Instagram – a slightly baffling photo of their ethics director, Hilary, holding a bunch of flowers together with a contrite caption – and said that they want to hold an event to discuss body issues. This is all good, but the offending images have not been deleted. With them, Lush is promoting the idea it’s so completely fine to have a go at people for their bodies that even a cosmetics company can do it. Not only that, an ethical cosmetics company. If Lush does so many good things and has had a go at fat people, then having a go at fat people must be ethical too… right? Such a lovely message for the countless young people who are fans of Lush to be absorbing. Why is body confidence so low in that generation, again?
Sort it out, Lush. Until you show that you’re making real, positive steps to improve this situation, then many fat people and previous fans of yours will not be buying your products. Oh, and by the way, 70 per cent of deaths are not preventable. You will die even if you are the thinnest, healthiest, organic-buying vegan in the world. Stick that in your bubble bars and bathe in it, why don’t you?