These days The Body Shop is not quite a joke, but not far off. And I say that as a very loyal customer who happily would buy up all their hand cream stock in one fell swoop.
When I was at school The Body Shop was the most exciting place for teenage girls, as far as I can tell every time I’ve been in as an adult the current customer base is composed largely of those ex-teenagers. I don’t think once I’ve seen anyone under 25 in there since I became an adult.
At my school there were four key obsessions in The Body Shop’s output. Dewberry, White Musk, bath pearls and shaped soaps.
According to Wikipedia Dewberries are related to blackberries, and North Carolina grew a lot of them in the nineteenth century. I have no idea what they really smell like, I do know that a good 60% of girls in my school smelled of Dewberry shower gel or spray. You would see little bottles with green labels poking out of bags in PE changing rooms.
Another chunk of bags were filled with bottles of White Musk. I confess I have never found the musk scents appealing. They’re even less appealing to me as an idea. Why would someone want to smell like deer bum glands? Even synthesized deer bums.
Bath things were the mainstay of every Christmas present I gave or received from and to school friends. The Body Shop captured the hearts and minds of all of us by creating not only nice smelling things to clean ourselves with, but silly shaped things to clean ourselves with.
My mother hated them. Bath pearls were, as far as she was concerned, possibly one of the great evils of the world. They left the bath covered in a greasy film, and their apparently degradable little cases would lurk around like the moulted skin of some alien reptile. To use bath pearls I had to seek specific permission, which was only granted if she was feeling particularly amenable.
The shapely soaps faired not much better. That was less to do with the specific soaps themselves, and more to do with my mother’s apparent lifelong hatred of soap. She just about tolerates liquid soap, but blocks of soap, be they rectangles or heart shapes, are awful bacteria collecting lumps of hellishness. Thus they remained in their boxes, ready to be re-gifted to someone else the next year. Someone whose mother would permit soap to be used.