Random Appropriation of the Day! (Lush "Pow Wow" Lip Scrub)

In lip scrub, Lush, powwow, random appropriation by Adrienne K.11 Comments

It’s been a few months since I posted a “Random Appropriation of the Day”–things that use Native imagery/names/references that are just totally random and don’t necessarily necessitate (necessarily necessitate? ha. I’m leaving it.) an entire wordy post. These “Random Appropriations” are simply to point out how ubiquitous the use of Native imagery is in our everyday lives, and to question products that we might not even pause and think about. So, a weird one for today:

Product description:
Pow Wow Lip Scrub – 3474 – Vegan – 20g – £4.75
Popping candy to polish your pout this Christmas!
Helen’s been trying to figure out a way to use popping candy in more of our inventions – and why not, it’s such good fun! So here it is: a delicious, bright green popping candy lip scrub. Scrub and buff your lips this winter with our exfoliating spinach powder, goji berry and caffeine powder lip buffer. It’s sure to make you as strong as Popeye and look as beautiful as Olive Oil!

Then, according to tipster Megan:

“There is also a video that briefly explains the reasoning behind the name which has since been made private, but as far as my memory serves me the gist is “pow wow is the Native American word for a gathering, and we do that a lot at Christmas’. Quite where the lip scrub comes into it I have no idea. I am at a loss at what any of this has to do with a non-existent, monolithic, Native American culture.”

It appears that the product has been taken down completely–several websites display a “product not found.” So perhaps they wised up and decided they should call it something that actually, oh, describes the product? Like “Popeye Power Lip Scrub”? (I should go work for Lush…)

Anyway, random, right?

(Thanks Megan!) 
  • This isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever head. At least in this situation they’re not trying to pass this off as some crazy Native American voodoo healing scrub…I mean, it doesn’t even mention it in the description. I think in this case Lush was just trying to think of creative synonyms for gathering. From that perspective, it’s not as bad, though I’m not justifying their use of it. I’m glad they took it down, it shows they at least have some sort of moral sense.

  • A lot of the time with these, you see where they made the connections. But this one… spinach and Popeye = Native American? It’s like they picked a name out of a hat.

  • I recently had a conversation with a Unitarian minister about the use of Native texts and music in worship services, without substantive contexts.I had previously written a blog post explaining in detail my concerns and shared the post with her. Her response was that she had grown up UU and the church had “always appropriated texts” as they felt all texts belong to all humankind. I was, perhaps oddly, stunned.

    Does anyone have thoughts about this?

  • That’s Olive Oyl. Ug-gug-gug.

  • That *is* random as hell.

  • I was thinking more like “Pow! Wow!” because it’s a lip scrub that makes your lips pop? I don’t know, it IS weird, and I’m glad Lush seems to be taking steps to fix this.

  • @michaelwatsonvt Makes me think of this concept (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emic_and_etic)

  • I figured it had to do with the use of pop candy in making your lips feel like they’re popping like “pow!”

  • Ruth

    Argh. Lush, I love your stuff, but no.

    I just checked and it’s still up on their website.


  • Katie

    I love your blog but this item doesn’t offend me quite like the others – and I’m not sure why not. Perhaps because I know a lot of the Lush names/puns, or because it stings more when a US company does it (and this is from the UK). But it definitely makes me think.

  • Carmen

    I don’t know if they’re doing it to be offensive, necessarily. If enough people complain directly, perhaps they’d change the name, but the products are now in stores. I mean, at one point they named a face wash “Hell’s Angels” so Lush will try anything.