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Dove tackles underarm taboos with NYC subway campaign

In the sweltering days before New York Fashion Week, Dove continues its celebration of real beauty and body positivity with an invitation to #FreeThePits. The campaign, on display in NYC's subways and Times Square, features ordinary women and female-identifying people of all ethnicities and body types, with — as the casting call described — "underarms of all styles: shaved, stubbly, hyperpigmentation, natural and untrimmed, hairy, and even dyed!"

Developed by Ogilvy, every #FreeThePits poster shows a woman seated or standing in a subway car with one or both arms lifted, along with questions like 'Troubled by stubble?', 'Does this underarm get under your skin?' and 'Uncomfortable? She isn't.' An accompanying stat underscores the campaign's raison d'être: six in 10 women confess to judging other women's armpits.

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Dominant beauty standards equate femininity with hairlessness. But Dove encourages people to stop judging others and remember that what anyone decides to do with their body hair is their business and theirs alone. It's just hair, right? Well, the divisive reactions on social media underscore that it's (still) a conversation worth having. Not just for the sake of individual freedom but to help people feel confident about their bodies — research by Dove found that eight in 10 women don't like how their armpits look, feel or sweat.

While Dove has famously been championing body positivity for years, there's still plenty of room for other brands to identify where people are judging themselves or others, and then help redefine and loosen those unnecessarily restrictive norms.

Innovation of the day

Female-presenting person with one arm lifted, showing armpit
Female-presenting person with two arms lifted, showing armpits
Female-presenting person with both arms lifted, showing armpits