When I was growing up, The Body Shop's Body Butter was the 'must have' thing. I went to boarding school, and if you didn't have that iconic green tub on the shelves in your cubical, you were behind. For us, it was a status symbol, but for the women who make it, it's a life-changing pathway to independence.
Since 1994, The Body Shop has been sustainably sourcing their Community Trade shea butter from the Tungteiya Women’s Association in northern Ghana, and what seems like a superficial beauty product to most of the Western world, is something so much more to hundreds of women.
640 women from 11 villages handcraft 390 tonnes of shea butter for The Body Shop every year using an 18-stage process passed down from mother to daughter over generations. Each woman takes two days to expertly produce The Body Shop's shea in 25kg batches using traditional techniques, and it’s a livelihood they rely on for their independence.
The Body Shop doesn’t just pay fair prices for their shea either; they voluntarily pay an added premium to empower their women to achieve an independent income, increased confidence and respect. This premium also helps fund community projects that positively impact the lives of more than 49000 people across 11 villages every year.
For the past 25 years, The Body Shop has been committed to this initiative, and while other brands have sold out on their values in the name of profitability, The Body Shop has continued to empower and celebrate the women in their supply chains worldwide through its Community Trade Shea Partnership.
I recently attended a shea butter workshop with The Body Shop, and besides leaving with the softest hands I've had in years and a goodie bag filled with products from the newly released natural range, I also learnt a lot about their female-empowerment programs. Montana Lower has been working with The Body Shop for several months, and the poem she shared perfectly summed up the power that one person can have, to bring thousands together and create positive social change.
"What does true empowerment look like to me? It looks like choice.
The ability to help others, and too, yourself.
It looks like courage; the bravery to step up, and speak your truth when it is needed.
Empowerment is a seed that can be given, but can only be watered by a willingness and pure intentions.
And like a flower, when it blooms, it bursts its pollen everywhere; spreading vibrancy and life."
I was moved by Montana's reflection of her time in Ghana and her firsthand experience working with the Tungteiya Women’s Association, and while we all might have shared soft hands at the workshop that day, what every woman shares is her potential to empower. Its something that The Body Shop does, authentically, every day, and has been doing for the past 25 years.
I've since been testing out The Body Shop's Raw Shea Butter, which is vegan, chemical-free, packaged in recyclable sleeves, and natural, and I've been whipping up a beauty storm in the bathroom with a few fun shea recipes too.
To learn more about The Body Shop's commitment to women or the beauty benefits of shea butter, check out thebodyshop.com.
The Fashion Advocate x