Wednesday, September 12, 2007


"The most exciting part of my life is now — I believe the older you get, the more radical you become."
Anita Roddick

Anita Roddick passed suddenly beyond the earthly veil on Monday evening after suffering a devastating brain hemorrhage. Her husband Gordon and her daughters Justine and Samantha were with her when she departed.

Dame Anita's passing came as a shock when I read it, and it seems to me that we are all much poorer for her sudden departure from this earthly plane. I only met her once and that was in the early eighties, but I have used Body Shop products almost exclusively since they were available in my part of the world, and I have always applauded Anita's idealism and her outspoken commitment to the earth, the environment and living a good ethical life.

The first Body Shop opened its doors in Brighton in 1976, and from day one, the organization pledged itself to producing healthy products and using natural ingredients wherever possible, eschewing animal testing entirely and championing fair trade practices vigorously. As an old hippie, I loved the idea that purchasing a simple tube of moisturizer or a pot of lip gloss could also be a radical and "earth shaking" act and one which could make a difference, however small the difference was at the time.

Anita was always right on the front lines when it came to issues like fair trade, global warming, literacy, sustainability, rain forest preservation and indigenous cultures. She was a fierce idealist, and she was passionate about elemental justice and the earth. She could be irreverent and abrasive at times, but she was determined, energetic and absolutely fearless in speaking out in the defence of what she held to be sacred.

There is a eulogy here, and it gives a much better idea of what a remarkable woman Anita was, what a warrior and crusader.

(photo courtesy of the Body Shop)


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this, Cate. I hadn't heard. The eulogy in the New Statesmen brought me to tears. May it be said by all of us that ours was a "life well lived."

Val said...

What a privilege to have met her. Like you, I always use Body Shop products and was sad when we couldn't refill our plastic bottles any more in her shops, or even recycle them there in the bins. Luckily governments and councils caught up, and we now have kerbside recycling and bins in nearly all car parks.
And there are now ethical consumerism has caught on. She was very far ahead of her time, and the earth is the richer for her having walked on its face.

Nan said...

Thank you for posting this. I had not heard. She was a real heroine in this world. So sad.

Anonymous said...

Um, didn't she sell out to L'Oreal not so long ago? Or am I mistaken...?
Are we perhaps confusing ethical committment with crafty marketing?

julia said...

Anita Roddick was one of the women I most admired

and I sit here today smelling deliciously of her mango body lotion!