22/08/2016 11:04 BST | Updated 23/08/2017 06:12 BST

These Sponsored Hair Removal Ads Have No Place On Instagram

Rosy Cherrington

We've all been there. Scrolling through Instagram, ignoring the early signs of iPhone RSI, when a photo pops up that looks a little odd. 'When the hell did I follow Olly Murs?' your tech-addled brain is thinking. 'Did I go a bit mad after a few Pinot Grigs? Was it some sort of fumbling mistake?'.

No, because Olly Murs. Who-actually-listens-to-him-apart-from-your-'X Factor'-watching-aunt, Olly Murs, paid Instagram to force his blonde quiff into people's retinas without giving them any choice in the matter back when the app first introduced ads in 2013.

Unfortunately, fast forward to today and we're still treading the uncertain frontier of 'Clockwork Orange'-esque social media advertising.

Based on my use of "Instagram, Facebook and unnamed-third party sites and apps", an algorithm calculated I am the type of person to be pretty damn interested in removing my body hair, showing me the below sponsored ad from IPL hair removal brand SmoothSkin.


Sometimes I do remove my body hair so, props to Instagram, it's right. Right?

Not quite, because a brief analysis of my internet search and posting history would also lead to the correct conclusion that I have absolutely zero tolerance to, or interest in, sexist stereotypes and body-shaming.

The concept of hair removal isn't the issue here, the way it's being sold is. As I wrote on Twitter, whoever approved these ads needs to have a nap and wake up in 2016.

It's frankly baffling that such a reductive slogan would get past not only SmoothSkin's digital marketing team, but Instagram's too.

Are we really telling people - against their will, I might add - that the only reason a women would possibly entertain the idea of having body hair is if she wasn't in a sexual relationship?

Take a look at another of SmoothSkin's ads below. Force-feeding the public a message implying it is Quite. Frankly. Shocking. that a woman would expose her unshaven legs to the outside world is not only irresponsible, but outdated too.


It would seem the offending parties missed both the furore towards similar adverts by Veet and Office, and social media movements aimed at destigmatising the concept of body hair on women too.

I actually do use IPL technology on certain areas of my body because I choose to hair remove, it is very effective, and I am also incredibly lazy (Braun Silk-Expert, £275 from is the best one I've tried). The operative word there being 'choose', I have a choice in the matter.

Insinuating that women should be ashamed to have body hair, or that the only reason they would remove it is for someone else's pleasure, is not giving them a choice. Especially when they have no choice in seeing the adverts.

If you see a Instagram ad you don't like, or as the app put it: "an ad you find less interesting", all you can do is click to 'hide' it.

But I don't want this buried from my feed, I want it removed. Just as body-shaming adverts have been banned from the London Underground, the same approach should be taken on social media.

A blanket bar on Olly Murs-related content might be advisable too, but I'll save that for another blog.