Body hair is having a (long overdue) moment in the spotlight. From Rihanna’s leg fuzz to Janelle Monae’s pubes, celebrities and social media alike are reclaiming what is absolutely natural. And because of that, body hair is finally losing its stigma as being taboo or “unclean”—except, weirdly enough, in advertisements. Ever see a razor commercial costarring stubble? No? It’s weird, right?
Billie is trying to change that. The growing razor brand took on the notorious “pink tax” (the higher price companies charge for female-branded products versus those for men) when it launched a subscription service that reduces the cost of women’s shaving and body care products last year. Now starting today, it’s running a new campaign called the Project Body Hair. The advertisements feature women proudly displaying their body hair in all of its glory, including unibrows, leg hair, and everything in between.
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“We couldn’t help but notice the overwhelming amount of hairless skin in razor advertising,” explains Billie cofounder Georgina Gooley. “It was strange to us that these brands only show women ‘shaving’ perfectly smooth and hairless legs.” Plus, Gooley points out, the lack of body hair both “before” and “after” shaving reveals nothing about the efficacy of the razor. Body hair’s presence is just that atypical, even though few things are more natural and universal than leg stubble.
The lack of imagery of body hair both in advertising and otherwise is a problem, since its absence serves only to uphold its stereotype as something taboo. “When brands pretend that all women have hairless bodies, it’s a version of body shaming,” explains Gooley. “It’s saying you should feel ashamed of having body hair.” By putting body hair front and center, she aims to normalize body hair—whether or not you choose to keep it. Just like periods and acne ahead of it, it’s part of life.
So Billie tapped Ashley Armitage, a photographer known for her body-positive visuals centered on the female gaze, to shoot the new imagery for the brand. “It’s so exciting to be a part of a campaign that breaks beauty standards and taboos by showing real women with real body hair,” says Armitage. “I wanted to keep it natural, unposed, and playful.” The direction was more of a collaboration than anything else, she notes, which only adds to the comfortable, totally at-ease vibe of the photos.
And Billie isn’t stopping at its advertisements. The brand is also donating photos of women with body hair to the stock photo site Unsplash for free use by the public, as well as crowdsourcing other body-hair-happy images via the hashtag #projectbodyhair. The goal is for body hair, and not supersmooth, bare skin, to be the status quo.
If a razor brand promoting body-hair love seems contradictory, that’s sort of the point. It’s not supposed to sell you on the importance of razors, nor encourage you to drop them and let your pubes do what they may. “Shaving is a personal choice, and no one should be telling women what to do with their hair,” says Gooley. “The fact is, we all have body hair. Some of us choose to remove it, and some of us choose to wear it proudly—and either way, we shouldn’t have to apologize for our choice.”
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