Summer is fast approaching, meaning we are being constantly bombarded with bikini ads, products and tips that promise that elusive “beach body.”
The pressure to look perfect in summer is real, and this pressure stems almost wholly from the worlds of media and advertising.
More and more people are trying to change this narrative by unashamedly displaying their diverse figures on social media, growing out body hair and not conforming to society’s gender expectations. And, it’s having an impact.
Veteran beauty brands are caving into the pressure from the hoards of people crying out for inclusivity and new brands are building it into their business model.
We are now also seeing more plus-sized and diverse models on the runway and in campaigns, as women demand to see themselves reflected in the media rather than solely size zero, hairless women under the age of 25.
On the subject of female body hair, Celebrities, notably Miley Cyrus, Amandla Stenberg and Dakota Fanning, have recently graced the red carpet with visible underarm hair, heating up the already hot topic and showing that women have a choice.
Billie, the “female-first shave and body brand,” is one of the latest to accelerate the body positivity revolution.
“There’s a serious lack of female body hair on the internet,” states Billie’s website. “Search ‘woman’ in any image gallery and you’ll be scrolling for a while before finding a single strand. We’re here to change that.”
Yes, it might seem counterintuitive for a razor brand to embolden women’s rights to have body hair if they so wish, but refreshingly, this is what Billie is doing with their new summer campaign, “Red, White, And You Do You.” It is the first advertisement to actually show pubic hair.
“Every summer, the media pressures female-identifying individuals to achieve that ‘beach body,'” Ashley Armitage, the director and photographer of the campaign, told Refinery29. “Everywhere we look, we see ads telling us that the only way to look good in a swimsuit is to be thin, fit, and hairless. In this film, we wanted to normalize body hair and show that we have options.”
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I directed another commercial for @billie and couldn’t be more ECSTATIC to share it with you all! This is the first advertisement to show PUBIC HAIR! In this film we wanted to normalize pubic hair because it is exactly that—normal. Body hair grows on people of all genders and it doesn’t suddenly become “gross” or “unhygienic” when it is on a cis woman, trans woman, or non-binary individual. We wanted to show that body hair is a choice; shave it, wax it, grow it, or do a bit of both. All are valid. Thank you to the wonderful models who are the life of this film: @lindsayzae, @niko.jane_, @leemoonflower, @charlieannmax, @spicy.mayo, @saucy_sadie And thank you to the incredible crew: Creative directors: @jshriftman and @noemie_lecoz DP: @benshapiro Producer: @alyseborkan Art director: @katieminchak Stylist: @othergirl_julia HMUA: @shidehkafei Editor: @lizzyjgraham
The video starts with a line-up of diverse women, with the camera focused in on their bottom halves. Pubic hair is visible from the outset, and the video shows the women lounging and enjoying the beach in non-posey comfortable positions with flashes of armpit and bikini-line hair here and there. It finishes with the campaign’s tag line, “Red, White and Do You.”
The campaign comes a year after another bold move from Billie — Project Body Hair. It was the first ever campaign to show women actually using a razor to remove hair, rather than gliding the razor over already baby-soft, hairless skin.
It might seem like the obvious way to sell a razor, but this was untouched territory for the world’s biggest razor brands. The video created quite the stir and months later saw industry giants such as Gillette Venus and Walmart follow suit.
“I think when we brush topics to the side and don’t address it, it’s a form of body shaming,” Said Gooley. “You’re saying it’s so unacceptable that we’re not even going to talk about it, and that’s how we treat pubic hair. That’s why it’s important to have a strong message that says, ‘No, no, we are talking about it and it is OK.'”
For men, what they do with any hair that does not grow out of the tops of their heads is seen as a style choice. While for women body hair has long been viewed as a blight to be battled with.
However, it seems that we are teetering on the edge of a revolution that is starting to see an explosion of people feeling empowered enough to subvert society’s tired ideals while paving the way for younger generations to feel less insecure.