Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Photo by Joel Anderson, courtesy of The Body Shop

Anita Roddick's Legacy

Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, died on September 10 of a brain hemorrhage. Looking over the empire she built is pretty incredible. Even if her business has its flaws (and which ones don't?), it's hard to deny that for many non-activists, The Body Shop was their first introduction to environmental and third-world development issues. I like this quote from Time.
"She made shopping a political act," says her friend Josephine Fairley, co-founder of organic chocolate company Green & Black's. "She was the first person to do that. She made cosmetics fun, sexy and affordable, and there was always a message. But instead of 'Buy this mascara, it will change your life,' her message was, 'Buy this mascara, it could change someone else's life.'"
Ultimately, the business retail world has come around to green marketing because of businesses like Roddick’s. If we’re talking about global warming today, it’s hard not to say that it’s at least partially because she helped put environmental issues in the mainstream eye.

In addition, Jessica on Feministing reminds us that The Body Shop also had some very unique beauty campaigns that are worth remembering. Long before the Dove firming lotion ads, The Body Shop took note that beauty comes in all different forms.

It’s a shame she died so young. After stepping down from management of The Body Shop in 2002, she became involved in many charities and nonprofits, including Children On The Edge, Project Censored and Amnesty International. (Her Web site, is a full of connections to organizations.

As Time puts it:
Since the sale of The Body Shop, Roddick, whose sense of social injustice kicked into gear after she read a book on the Holocaust when she was 10, had been focusing on the charities and campaigns she held dear. Claiming that she didn't want to "die rich," she gave away around $6 million a year and planned to spend the rest of her time doling out grants and donations and lending her name to causes like stopping sweatshop labor and protesting the imprisonment of two of the "Angola 3" Black Panther members being held in a Louisiana state prison for a murder many say they didn't commit.

Writing on her website recently, Roddick said: "The most exciting part of my life is now — I believe the older you get, the more radical you become."

--- Rachel Joy Larris

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