Dove teamed up with “Scandal” screenwriter and producer Shonda Rhimes for a powerful short film that aims to help “redefine” female standards of beauty.
Released July 25, “Meet Kylee” tells the story of Kylee Howell, who owns and operates Friar Tuck’s Barbershop in Salt Lake City, Utah. Growing up, Howell aimed to fit in by wearing her hair long and dressing in traditionally feminine styles, but realized she wasn’t happy doing so.
“Looking back at old pictures just kind of reminds me of what it’s like to not know yourself,” Howell explains in the clip, which can be viewed above. “It wasn’t until I cut my hair short that I really felt like I had come into myself ... I made a choice to be happy. I made a choice to be genuine with who I was.”
Howell’s experiences led her to open her barber shop, which is proudly gender inclusive. “Barber shops are known to be pretty hyper-masculine places,” she said. “I realized there might be room to create a new haircut experience.”
“Meet Kylee,” which is the second in Dove’s “Real Beauty” series, does not disclose Howell’s sexuality. In explaining their impetus for creating the film, however, Dove officials cited research which found that three out of four women who identify as lesbian or gay believe society doesn’t care about their beauty. Similarly, in a blog post on Dove’s website, Rhimes said her mission of “writing women as we truly are – human” made her excited to team up with the brand for the short film.
“Every time you look at your screen and see a woman portrayed just as she is, sharing her humanity, being boldly herself, you are looking at someone beautiful,” Rhimes wrote. Calling Howell a “new friend,” she added, “Her beauty shines through in everything she is and everything she does.”
Echoing those sentiments was Dove’s Vice President of Marketing Nick Soukas, who told HuffPost that the company has always “been committed to widening the definition of beauty.” Howell’s story was part of Dove’s effort to “share a more relatable view of beauty and appearance – which impacts so much of how we feel about ourselves,” he said.
“Through this work have touched on and challenged beauty stereotypes tied to size, shape, and femininity,” Soukas added.
Catch the latest in LGBTQ news by subscribing to the Queer Voices newsletter.