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The Body Shop Boycott

A positive campaign for women receives backlash

By Nalisa Alia Amin | Published: 6 Mar 2014

Body Shop Boycott
Photo: Ambiga Sreenevasan, Marina Mahathir, Ivy Josiah and Zainah Anwar in The Body Shop's 'Be More Than Beautiful' campaign/The Body Shop Malaysia

The outrage was caused after The Body Shop appointed Zainah Anwar, Ivy Josiah, Marina Mahathir and Ambiga Sreenevasan as ambassadors for their ‘Be More Than Beautiful’ campaign. The campaign celebrates International Women’s Day 2014 and commemorates The Body Shop’s 30th year in Malaysia.

The decision to feature Zainah, Ivy, Marina and Ambiga as ambassadors for the The Body Shop sends a strong message of positivity and encouragement to young Malaysian women. Zainah is on the board of directors of Sisters in Islam, Marina brought up HIV/AIDS issues when nobody in Malaysia wanted to discuss it, Ivy acts to help defenseless women and children in Women’s Aid Organization (WAO) and Ambiga champions electoral democracy through her work with NGO Bersih.

These four women embody a beauty that goes beyond skin deep, and are in an ideal role to front The Body Shop. But Fakhrul Azman Abu Bakar, chairman of the Bureau of Malaysia International Institute of Islamic Cooperation (IKIAM) begs to differ. He called on Muslims to boycott the beauty franchise, for fear of them being influenced by these four women, who also support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual (LGBT) rights.

“If we buy The Body Shop products, this means that the money we give to The Body Shop is supporting LGBT rights,” Azman reportedly said to Free Malaysia Today.

He also regretted that the owner of The Body Shop is the daughter of former UMNO chairman Tan Sri Sulaiman Ninam Shah.

“This goes to show that the owner supports the LGBT,” he said.

Rampai-Niaga Sdn Bhd –  the owner and operator of The Body Shop franchise in Malaysia –  has yet to release a statement on the issue.


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