It’s no secret that female product commercials tend to recycle the same, tired clichés. Shaving commercials feature women pointlessly shaving already hairless armpits and unrealistically stone-smooth legs. Chicago-based photographer, Ashley Armitage, has teamed up with Billie, a female-first shave and body brand, to produce the first ever advert to feature women’s body hair. Long overdue, the commercial sees girls reclaiming and celebrating natural beauty. Set to Princess Nokia’s “Tomboy”, Ashley describes her directional debut as “dreamy, playful and lighthearted”, and it appreciates women for what they are, rather than pushing them towards unrealistic, ridiculous ends.
Known for her body-positive images, centred around the female gaze, Billie’s company values truly align with Ashley’s; “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”, she tells It’s Nice That. Famous for her hazy, magical, pastel photographs, which celebrate women of all races and sizes, Ashley’s style is translated beautifully into film, something she has placed a lot of importance on – “I really wanted to bring my still photographs to life”. As such, the shots are highly visual, with the same gorgeous soft palette, heavenly tones and a comforting, familiar setting.
“A lot of people don’t know this”, she explains, “but I was actually into directing before I was into photography”. However, after becoming disillusioned with a heavily male-dominated programme, she dropped out and moved back to Seattle, making the Billie advert her first commercial film. Describing the day of the shoot as “the best”, it may be the first of many; “this is what I want to do forever. I want to direct”. It marks a new direction for Ashley, and we hope, a similarly positive turnaround in the advertising industry.
“We wanted our campaign to be different”, Ashley explains. “We wanted to show a variety of bodies with a variety of hair. Some girls we cast liked to shave, some didn’t, and we wanted to represent this choice." Feminism is about choice; advertising has a clear effect on our social conditioning, and the shaming of female body hair ultimately leads to the shaming of the self. However, women should be proud. As the commercial states, tongue-in-cheek, “Hair: everyone has it, even women. The world pretends it doesn’t exist, but it does, we checked."