At first glance, this might look like a typical racy Instagram post: a shot of someone's bikini bottoms. But as you look closer, you start to notice some dark shading around the suit. Yep, that's pubic hair — something many women are told to hide at all costs. Welcome to the Instagram account of photographer Ashley Armitage, where dreamy scenes of girls lounging by a pool are peppered with body hair (lots of it), tampons, period stains, and granny panties.
"I’m interested in creating a platform for girls, by girls, completely the female gaze," says Armitage (who is also starting Girls by Girls Agency with another female photographer). The narrative that emerges throughout Armitage's work shows the behind-the-scenes of female young adulthood — how girls create femininity, live in it, and break its supposed "rules."
Much of the project is collaborative: "It’s often both me and the models deciding what we want to create together, and both parties have agency. I'm giving the woman power, not taking it from her," Armitage says. "My friend who did the pubic hair photo, she's always like, 'Oh, take photos of my leg hair...take photos of my pubic hair; it looks so cute today.' [And I thought], now is a good time to post this photo of my friend's natural body, up close. It says, 'Hey, we have a choice. This is beautiful, too."
Click through to see a sampling of Armitage's images — and the internet's reaction to them.
Ed. note: All the women photographed nude in this series are at least 20 years old.