Tender Pantene advert tells true story of trans girl and her family
The advert, which was posted on Twitter on Monday (15 March), shares the story of lesbian parents Ashely and Ellie and their trans child Sawyer. The Twitter post read: “Hair is a large part of our identity. And for LGBTQ+ youth like Sawyer, who choose to express themselves, their style and their creativity through their hairstyle, it can help them feel seen.”
The two-minute-long commercial begins with Sawyer’s mum, Ashley, describing her adorable child as an “old soul”, “spunky” and “creative”. She then explained that when Sawyer was “wearing the clothing she wanted and her hair” it was the “first day where I saw her”.
Hair is a large part of our identity. And for LGBTQ+ youth like Sawyer, who choose to express themselves, their style, & their creativity through their hair style, it can help them feel seen.
— Pantene Pro-V (@Pantene) March 15, 2021
“She has always been super gender creative, and hair has been a big part of her transition,” Ashley said. “Once she told us that she identified as a girl, she immediately wanted to grow her hair out.”
Sawyer said that being allowed to grow her hair out made her feel “good and confident”. She added: “It made my insides match my outsides.”
Ashley admitted that she worried about her “kids being loved and accepted” as a parent. But she has always encouraged Sawyer to “never hide who she is”, “always be herself” and “never be afraid to step out and exist as the person that she is”.
Sawyer also shared that the family’s motto is “everybody loves everybody, no matter what path you follow”.
“It means I can be who I am, no matter what,” Sawyer explained. “It doesn’t matter because everybody loves me.”
The advert, which has been viewed over 127,000 times on Twitter, received waves of transphobic abuse online.
But Pantene doubled down on its support of LGBTQ+ families and children. In a post on Friday (19 March), the haircare brand said: “Transphobia has no place in our world or on our feed.”
“In response to the bullying and harassment directed at those featured in the video of our last post: We stand with this #BeautifuLGBTQ family and the entire community,” Pantene wrote.
The post was accompanied by the trans flag, the rainbow and the sparkling heart emojis.
Transphobia has no place in our world or on our feed. 🏳️⚧️
In response to the bullying & harassment directed at those featured in the video of our last post: We stand with this #BeautifuLGBTQ family & the entire community 🌈💖
— Pantene Pro-V (@Pantene) March 19, 2021
One person jokingly wrote that the beautiful commercial would have convinced them to use more Pantene products “if I had more hair”. He said: “It’s a simple and authentic story with a message that everyone is welcome and accepted… So I think it says more about the people made about it than anything else.”
It’s a simple and authentic story with a message that everyone is welcome and accepted… so I think it says more about the people mad about it than anything else. If I had more hair I’d use more of your products 😆 #RepresentationMatters
— Jerry Daykin (@jdaykin) March 19, 2021
Pantene has a history of supporting the LGBT+ community.
The brand – whose UK ambassador is the trans journalist Paris Lees – works with the Dresscode Project, an initiative which aims to make hair salons and barbershops more trans-inclusive and gender-affirming.
Pantene also recently featured writer and performer Travis Alabanza and their mum, Desiree, in a photoshoot. Travis said it was important for them to do the shoot to highlight to young trans people that “you can come out and be loved”.
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“So often, when we talk about trans people and families, the experience is that as soon as you start displaying signs of gender non-conformity, you’re shunned,” Travis said.
Although there are “very real statistics” which show many trans people do get shunned by their families for their identity, Travis loved that their Pantene ad showed “young people and their parents that there’s another option when it comes to what you do when your kids come out”.