New Dove soap ad dives into gender and social issues

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Dove Real Beauty Productions and Shonda Rhimes released a new three-minute film titled, “Meet Kylee,” giving a glimpse into the real life story of one woman who chose to defy conventional beauty norms by cutting her hair short and “redefining beauty.”

The new Dove Real Beauty Productions film features Kylee Howell, a barber at her gender-inclusive barbershop, Friar Tuck’s, based in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The “Meet Kylie” is the second film in a series since March 2017 that aims to “illustrate that many women cannot relate to traditional standards of feminine beauty,” according to Dove’s website.

“Growing up, I remember looking in the mirror and being like, ‘Who am I?’” Kylee says in the opening lines of the ad. “It wasn’t until I cut my hair short that I really felt like I had come into myself.”

She says through tears that she vividly recalls “what it feels like to not know yourself” while growing up in Utah with a mother, Carolyn, who operated a beauty salon out of their family home at the height of permed hair and up-dos in the 80’s.

Howell speaks about how the experience only magnified her feelings of not fitting into traditional feminine beauty norms and not feeling beautiful trying to conform throughout her adolescence.

“I never saw myself as beautiful,” said Howell, “because that was a word I only heard used to describe women who looked more traditional, who followed the ‘rules.’ Until recently, I didn’t know that word applied to someone who looked like me.”

In the mini film, Howell discusses the moment she decided to break the beauty mold and cut her off and how that defining moment led to her opening a gender neutral barber shop that caters to anyone with hair who is seeking a barber-style cut.

“Prior to opening my own barbershop, I had not been able to find an environment to get my hair cut where I felt comfortable and confident,” she says. “I always found myself struggling for conversation, and I often found that the haircut wasn’t usually what I asked for. The stylist insisted that what they had done was better for my look, but it didn’t feel good to me or for how I felt about myself.”

She opened up about her struggles with going to men’s barbershops saying, “The male barbers struggled to cut my hair because they just weren’t sure what to do for me. I had barbers push back on going as short as I would ask for because they ‘weren’t sure how that would look on a girl.'”

When she decided to take the plunge and chop her hair daringly short, she said “It felt like the first time meeting with someone I had known for a long time,” adding that “it was a whole new experience to feel the sides of my hair that short, but it also looked so natural every time I caught a glimpse in the mirror.”

That was the defining moment that inspired Howell to launch a career as a barbershop owner, where she could help instill confidence in her clients and empower them by giving them a haircut that represents who they truly are, and not as society tells them they should be.

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