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Pantene Philippines praised for ad with trans beauty queen

Sofia Lotto Persio December 10, 2018
A screenshot from Pantene Philippines ad "Strength knows no gender"

(Pantene Philippines/Facebook)

Pantene Philippines has won praise for showing support of transgender people in its latest ad, which features beauty queen Kevin Balot, who calls herself “the girl named Kevin.”

The ad was initially released at the end of November to mark Trans Awareness Week and has has gone viral—even catching the attention of Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo, who told her 1.5 million Twitter followers on Saturday (December 8) she felt emotional watching the ad.

The two-minute video, titled “Strength knows no gender,” is structured as Balot’s message to those who, like her, have been struggling with self-acceptance due to the gender they were assigned at birth.

In the ad, Balot first appears on her own, but she is eventually joined by three other young people who overcome their self-doubt, achieving self-acceptance.

#StrongerNow

The journey will not be easy, but you will be stronger.For Transgender Awareness Week, PANTENE is one with the community in celebrating strength in everyone, regardless of gender.What's your #StrongerNow story?

Posted by Pantene Philippines on Friday, November 23, 2018

Balot’s voice tells viewers: “To you who are feeling the world is against you. Don’t be scared. Things can still go your way.

“They say it’s just a phase… maybe. Or maybe you’re confused. No one knows. The fact is, you are still discovering who you really are and that is OK.

“There will be those who will hurt you. Be strong. When you can stand up for yourself, no one can bring you down. Remember you are beautiful and unique. You deserve to be heard. Accepted… and loved.

“When they don’t see to understand you, there will be others who do. Find them. Be good. Be grateful. Be happy. Talent, personality, kindness, wit, style, everything beautiful about you has nothing to do with your gender. The journey won’t be easy, but I know you will be stronger. Like me.”

Pantene Philippines ad goes viral

The ad has since received more than 560,000 views on Pantene Philippines’ facebook page. The video has also received nearly four million views on Twitter, thanks to a user named max who managed send the ad viral after sharing the video with the caption “HAVE Y’ALL SEEN THE PANTENE PHILIPPINES COMMERCIAL IN HONOR OF TRANSGENDER AWARENESS WEEK I’M IN TEARS.”

 

The viral tweet Twitter user max wrote about the Pantene Philippines ad.
Twitter user max sent the campaign viral. (Screenshot/Twitter)

The Twitter user praised Pantene for standing by the trans community in the Philippines, a Catholic-majority country currently lacking formal recognition for transgender people and people are unable to change their gender legally.

“i don’t think some of y’all understand how important this is, not only because it is a progressive step towards the acceptance of trans folks in the ph, but a little kid is going to see this and realize that nothing is wrong with them, that they are loved & accepted,” Max commented below the video.

After the post went viral, Max added a further comment: “this got way more attention than i expected. and with that attention, comes a wave of negative comments. please remember the words said in the video. be strong. yes, words cut if they’re sharp but the positivity this video has been receiving far outweighs that of the negativity.”

Pantene has previously released trans-inclusive ad in Thailand

Balot is the first transgender person to become a Pantene ambassador in the Philippines, but it is not the first time the beauty brand has won praise for promoting trans-inclusivity.

Pantene Thailand launched the “See beauty, not gender” campaign in August—the second major beauty brand in the country to have launched trans-inclusive advertisement this year.

The 70-second Pantene ad showed people in different professions—delivery person, hairdresser, model—inviting the audience to think about what they see: “Do you only see her gender?”

Kevin Balot, who features in the Pantene Philippines ad, waves the crowd as she wins Miss International Queen 2012 beauty contest in Pattaya on November 2, 2012.
Trans beauty queen Kevin Balot features in the ad. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty)

The beauty brand seems to have learned from the success of its competitor Sunsilk, who issued earlier this year an advertisement featuring the true story of trans beauty queen Rock Kwanlada and her relationship with her hair and her father, winning international appraisal and an award at this year’s Cannes Festival of Creativity.

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