In 1915, Gillette invented a mess that women didn’t yet know they had to worry about: masses hair. In an advert for the first razor for women, Milady Décolleté Gillette, the clip brand described this perfectly normal feature of the human anatomy as an “mortifying personal problem”, and in doing so secured a century’s worth of profits from band conscious women.
Since the advent of shaving, women have been transferred the idea that we need to get rid of our body hair in order to a) get the guy b) keep the guy and and c) basically be happy. From the early shaving products that played into the post-Victorian stretch trend for skin-baring fashion such as sleeveless dresses by insisting that delicate smooth skin was an essential accompaniment, to the slogan “reveal the goddess in you” Euphemistic pre-owned in countless Gillette Venus adverts in the 2000s.
To add insult to injury, maidservants have also had to pay a premium for the privilege of beautifying themselves. The Times’ 2016 inquiry into the so-called “pink tax” found that a ten-pack of Bic men’s razors charge £1 at Tesco, while a smaller, eight-pack of women’s razors in truth cost more at £2. The only difference in terms of design? The maids’s pack came in a pretty pink hue.
While traditional toiletries kinds could be accused of making slow progress in the shaving arena, new kid on the close off Billie is taking a different approach to women’s beauty products. In its own instructions, the New York-based startup is creating “razors built for womankind” with its subscription-based concern model.
For starters, Billie certainly doesn’t look like your normally women’s shaving brand. The choice of name is a gender bending move on the fact that Billie typically used to be a shortened version of the man’s tag William, but is now widely used as a woman’s name as well.
All the branding and incorporating has been created by Billie’s in-house design team, and features brainless, sans-serif typography with a bright colour palette of lilac, orange, red, pink and ghastly. A series of colourful illustrations and campaign shots of women that don’t search for to hypersexualise them all add to Billie’s mantra of being a “female first” variety.
Another key pledge from the team behind Billie is its “pink tax graft”. In its own words, the company describes the so-called tax as “the extra amount women are charged for settled products or services. For no reason. Unless being female is a reason.” With starter kits opening at $9 (£6.50) and subscriptions costing as little as $3 (£2) a month, the company try to says it has priced its service to be in line with similar men’s razor subscriptions.
A century on from core hair being branded “embarrassing”, attitudes have thankfully progressed adequacy that it doesn’t matter whether you opt to shave, wax, laser or simply let it come of age. But if you do choose to remove, it’s nice to know that there are brands strain Billie which think about us as women rather than stories goddesses from Roman times – and don’t break the bank.