Natalie Ambersley first heard about Dove’s #ArmsUp campaign in February 2019. A casting director told her that Dove was looking for real women to get together and celebrate their underarms. As a woman who grew up with vitiligo – and only recently started embracing her skin – Natalie knew she had a story to tell. An audition and a few months later, Natalie found herself walking onto Dove’s campaign shoot in Shoreditch, London.
“A few years back, I wouldn’t wear any shirt that showed my underarms,” said Natalie, who first got vitiligo when she was three years old. “I used clothing to hide my vitiligo for many years.”
Today, it’s a different story. After appearing on a daytime news show to talk about her vitiligo, Natalie felt a transformation starting. The more she opened up about her skin and found others going through the same journey through social media, the more she started to feel okay with it.
“As I’ve become more accepting of my skin, I’ve stopped caring about people seeing my spots – including my underarms,” said Natalie, who doesn’t hesitate to have her skin seen while on the beach or at the gym now. “These days, I’m more focused on enjoying my life and not letting my skin stop me from doing things I love.”
According to Dove’s Underarm Confidence Survey, “6 in 10 women feel that they have been judged on the appearance of their underarms and 88% of women have felt pressure to have the “ideal” underarm – smooth, flawless, blemish-free.” Since the Dove Real Beauty Campaign in 2004, Dove has been championing body confidence – and the #ArmsUp campaign is just the latest of their efforts to make beauty a source of confidence.
In London, Natalie joined twelve other women for a full day on camera. Throughout the interviews, women shared their underarms – whether hairy, spotted, glittery or tattooed – and their stories of embracing their bodies. Because according to Dove, “the only thing your underarms shouldn’t be is a worry.”
“I’m so proud to be a part of this shoot,” said Natalie, who was thrilled to see the final photos and online campaign. “I hope women and young girls feel inspired and know that they have the freedom to be who they are – vitiligo and all.”
Learn more about Dove’s #ArmsUp campaign at https://www.dove.com/uk/stories/real-beauty-network/arms-up.html. Find Natalie on Instagram on at @being_just_us.
Erika Page is the Founder and Editor of Living Dappled. After getting vitiligo at the age of seven, she lost 100% of her pigment to the condition and today lives with universal vitiligo.