The myth of the Green Queen
During her lifetime, Body Shop founder Anita Roddick savvily cultivated a reputation for
innovation, integrity and social responsibility. As Jon Entine explains, the truth couldn't be more
Jon Entine, National Post
It's a September mid-morning and the concrete shacks lining the road into Ixmiquilpan, a dusty,
poor town, are broiling, sending everyone into the town square. Young Nanhu Indian boys play a
game with a stick and string, while the girls and their mothers, their hair tied with colourful
berets, look on.
Suddenly, a mariachi band starts playing and six vans pull up. Out bounds Anita Roddick, the
founder of The Body Shop. It's 1992 and these are the best of times for Anita -- everyone calls
her by her first name. She is an international legend, part Robin Hood, part Mother Teresa. She
rustles the hair of the boys and hugs the women, who giggle shyly at the white princess. There is
a magnetic force about her. Charisma.
This ramshackle town was soon transformed into a Hollywood set. "It was a bizarre scene,"
recalled Alison Rockett, a young Canadian hired by Roddick to scout locations for the filming.
"Port-o-johns with flush toilets were hauled in from Mexico City," four hours by bus to the
south. "A chef was hired to prepare smorgasbord and fettuccine Alfredo."
There are two crews: American Express has sent 20 people to film Roddick as part of its "Don't
leave home without it" campaign, and Body Shop has dispatched a PR team to tape Amex
filming Anita. Although Roddick has long boasted she would never stoop so low as to advertise
-- crass capitalism, she had said-- she has jumped at the promotional opportunity.
Anita walks into the crowd enveloped by an army of cameramen carrying boom mics and
reflectors. "I want you to film my favourite people," she tells one cameraman, and then turns to
the villagers. "I will be getting money for this filming, and I want to give it to you. What do you
For the Nanhu, more is at stake than an advertisement. The local women make cheap exfoliating
mitts from a local cactus plant for which they earned a profit of a peso (then equivalent to 17
cents) per mitt. If they could land a de-cent-sized order, there might be enough money to build a