Lux campaign pressures World Athletics over Caster Semenya ban

The Unilever personal care brand is taking a stand over the athlete's hyperandrogenism.

Unilever-owed personal care brand Lux has launched an animated campaign calling for 800m Olympic gold medalist Caster Semenya to be allowed to compete in the upcoming Olympic Games.

Semenya has hyperandrogenism, a condition which causes high levels of testosterone. There is resistance to her competing in women's events due to this advantage, and World Athletics decreed in 2018 that middle distance athletes' testosterone levels had to be below a certain threshold.

This means that the South African would have to lower her testosterone with medication in order to take part - a state of events that she has gone to the European Court of Human Rights to appeal.

Created by Wunderman Thompson, “Born this way” begins as Semenya prepares to step out into the crowd, alongside a quote from the athlete which says: “I am an athlete and I am fast.”

Plagued with scrutiny from the press claiming that the athlete isn’t a woman and is unfeminine, the Olympic stage fades to black as it says that Semenya is no longer allowed to perform competitively because World Athletics does not consider her to be a woman.

It goes on to showcase people with “special gifts” and “extraordinary biology” across all Olympic fields who were never banned from competing, before delving into Semenya’s experiences with hyperandrogenism.

“Lux believes that women should not be judged for how they look, that no woman should ever be stripped of being a woman,” the ad declares as an animated Semenya breaks free from her struggles and returns to the track. 

It ends by encouraging people to sign a petition challenging world Athletics’ decision to ban Semenya from the upcoming competition.

“Working for a beauty brand like Lux, it pains me that in this day and age, women still constantly get judged for how they look and choose to express their femininity,” Severine Vauleon, global vice president of Lux at Unilever said. 

“So I am proud to say that Lux stands with Caster – she is an example and an inspiration for women everywhere, to rise above the judgements of others and express their beauty fully and authentically.”

Vauleon continued: “At Lux, we believe that beauty should be a source of strength rather than a source of judgement.” 

Last month, Unilever banned the word “normal” from its packaging as part of the company’s “Positive Beauty” programme, which aims to drive inclusion and gender equality across the sector.

The company has also pledged to inspire 50 million women by 2025 to rise above everyday sexism and embrace their inner beauty and femininity.

Bas Korsten, global chief creative officer at Wunderman Thompson, hailed Lux as an “iconic brand” due to its “outspoken” brand ambassadors from decades past, including Marilyn Monroe and Liz Taylor.

“Lux also has a strong purpose and is willing to stand behind its beliefs, which means standing by all women. 

“Caster Semenya is just one of those women, and we couldn’t be more proud to stand on the frontline with Lux because every woman has the right to express her femininity, and should never feel the need to self-edit.”

The South Africa Parliament has condemned the World Athletics’ actions against Semenya as an “injustice and violation of human rights”, and have said it will do “everything in its power” to support the athlete in her fight for justice.

Semenya said: “My case is but one amongst many experiences that can be heard and felt by women all over the world.”

Semenya encouraged the public to “unapologetically claim who they are and never waiver, no matter what society says,” and to “to continue doing what's right in fighting for justice”.

She continued: “Like I have always said this fight is not about me: it's about the future. Those talented up and coming athletes who are going to face the same discrimination. 

“I have to make sure that I can honestly say, I did my bit.”

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