Not so much
With VH1's stupid yet addictive I Love the '90s in constant rotation, I can't help but feel wistful for the '90s: good, impassioned music (Nirvana, Pearl Jam); individualistic fashion (grunge, minimalism); social activism (vote for Clinton). And after my trip to The Body Shop yesterday on my lunch hour, I really began to long for the early '90s. Remember when the Body Shop was the coolest thing ever? I used to get the catalogue, then they opened a store on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, so I'd go there and buy their dewberry perfume, fruit face wash, peppermint foot lotion, chamomile shampoo, Colourings makeup...And now? Of the five products I just named, only the peppermint foot lotion remains--and while it was a pretty novel thing at the time, you can now get peppermint foot lotion everywhere from Sephora to the drugstore. I stood by as all of these products were discontinued, but yesterday I reached the end of my rope: They discontinued their deodorant, a rare roll-on in a light, pleasant scent.

Me: "Why did they discontinue it?"
Salesgirl: "There was something bad for you in it."
Me: "Oh God. Something dangerous?"
Salesgirl: "No, don't worry about it."
Me: "Are they going to reformulate it and make a new version?"
Salesgirl: "Probably not."
Me: "Why not?"
Salesgirl: "It didn't sell well."

Why did they discontinue so many of their unique products? And, furthermore, what happened to their identity? You used to walk into a Body Shop and see posters and placards about their "Trade Not Aid" program to support indigenous peoples, their lack of animal testing, their support of global human rights and environmental conservation. I even remember the salesgirls reminding you to recycle the small paper shopping bag they gave you. Now the store is virtually indistinguishable from a Bath and Body Works, H2O Plus, or any store of that ilk. Apparently stockholders' profits and quarterly performance have become more important than social reponsibilty; maybe their market research told them that shoppers don't want to be bombarded with anything remotely "political." (For more criticism of the Body Shop, read this.) The Body Shop, once the lefty, tofu-eating, batik-wearing younger sister of the beauty world has become its moderate, minivan-driving soccer mom.

Maybe I'm all revved up about social issues because it's an election year, and maybe I'm going through a mid-twenties crisis and looking back on simpler times through rose-colored glasses. But the Body Shop has totally sold out, and that makes me sad. So, the Body Shop: Not so much.

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