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Expert comment: Body hair razor advert a 'canny advertising strategy' – University of Reading

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Expert comment: Body hair razor advert a 'canny advertising strategy'

Release Date 02 July 2018

News coverage of the Billie razor advert

An advert featuring women with body hair has won plaudits online for portraying natural bodies and promoting the choice not to shave.

The Billie razor advert, featuring the phrase "Body hair. Everyone has it", has led to debate about image and why people shave in the first place.

Professor Karin Lesnik-Oberstein, Professor of English Literature and a published author on the 'taboo' of female body hair, said:

"This advert is revolutionary in showing body hair on women, but what is actually lauded in the advert, and in many of the blog comments on it, is choice – to shave or not shave body hair.

"By now, though, we know that this celebration of choice is a two-edged sword, because this is not about a ‘free’ choice by any means. Nor is shaving or not shaving body hair – along with so many other body, gender and sexuality issues – necessarily about ‘choosing’ something. After all, as a researcher in this area, the thing I have heard most often over the past 30 years is that women (and men) ultimately don’t know why they shave at all.

"They put forward a range of reasons – they like the smoothness, it is cleaner (even though it is the opposite – shaving creates micro-wounds for infection), it is sexy, it is about ‘being feminine’, but why these issues are in turn involved, they do not know. So most women (and men) shave because of irrational feelings, desires and emotions, not necessarily because of making ‘choices’.

"So, well done to the advert for showing body hair and breaking a real taboo, but let’s not blind ourselves to its canny advertising strategy: it is selling choice, which is the most sellable commodity today."

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