There’s no getting round the fact that removing unwanted body hair is an awkward process. It’s often messy and it nearly always involves stretching your body into unflattering positions to get to those tricky-to-reach areas.
Typically, however, the images used to advertise hair removal products seem to gloss over the awkward messiness to depict something far more glamorous, such as a woman sat on the side of a candle-lit bath as she runs a razor over her already hair-free calf.
But Argos and Philips have decided to make a change, by opting to feature images that are far more true-to-life.
From this week, the two companies will feature images showing women adopting more realistic positions and removing hair from areas including their stomachs, to promote the Philips Lumea device, which uses intense pulsed light to reduce hair across the body.
Not only do the new photos on the brands’ websites show people bending into tricky positions, they also feature a whole host of body types.
There are images of women removing hair from toes and bikini lines to highlight that people have hair there too, and some choose to remove it.
The dose of reality comes after the brands carried out a poll of 2,000 women, which found that many disliked the fact that pictures used to advertise hair removal products do not often match up to reality.
According to the survey, 43% of women said they feel embarrassed or uncomfortable talking about hair removal.
When asked what they wanted to see more of in hair removal images, 32% said hard-to-reach spots and 30% said they’d prefer more relatable body shapes to be used.
The companies hope that the images will help to update depictions of hair removal, and “celebrate the diversity of hair removal experiences”.
Jess Pasco, senior buyer at Argos, said: “We all have different needs when it comes to hair removal, but by posting images of real hair removal on our website, we’re opening up the conversation and encouraging our customers to be honest about body hair.
“We want our customers to see themselves reflected in these images and feeling reassured that we understand that the reality of hair removal isn’t as glamorous as it is often seen online.”
The companies are also encouraging Brits to share their own hair removal experiences on social media, by using the hashtag #MyHairRemoval in a bid to normalise talking about our grooming routines.
Jess Gregory, Philips Lumea marketing manager, added: “Hair removal doesn’t need to be a chore or something we’re embarrassed about – it’s a part of our everyday routines.
“We want women who use Lumea to feel empowered by their hair removal and what works best for them, through a personalised programme to suit their needs and choices.”
While the new images are a step forward in helping to normalise body hair and hair removal, they don’t go quite as far as some other brands.
Last year, American women’s razor brand Billie were praised after unveiling a new campaign with a diverse mix of women proudly showing off their body hair.
“This summer, you do you. Let your hair down, maybe even out,” the company wrote alongside a video clip shared to Instagram.
The brand also launched Project Body Hair in “celebration of body hair” and to reinforce “that shaving is a choice”.
Co-founder of Billie, Georgina Gooley, told Bustle they hope their ad reinforces that no woman should be ashamed of actually having hair on their body.
“By showing unshaved bikini lines, we’re acknowledging that this hair exists and hoping to remove the shame around it,” she said.
“Our hope is that women aren’t judged for having or removing body hair. It's a personal choice that nobody should have to apologise for.”