A new ad by Pantene in the Philippines is going viral. The ad depicts the empowerment of a woman as she grows up in a world that doesn’t understand her.
That woman is Kevin Balot, the transgender beauty queen!
The ad, titled “Strength knows no gender,” starts with Balot describing the confusion of trying to grow up unsupported by the people around you. She speaks directly to not give up against a feeling of hopelessness. Her words touch on a message that is both universal and very specific to the experience of someone discovering they’re trans.
“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.”
It is a moment to be proud.
This is great. Good job Pantene Philippines. https://t.co/vHryf3FcVc— Silkia (@77sf) December 9, 2018
Damn Pantene Philippines did THAT. ❤💛💚💙💜— Azula 🔥 (@ynamey_) December 8, 2018
Kevin is an amazing ambassador, good on Pantene for picking her. I've been following her career since she won MIQ 2012 and she deserves the recognition. 💛— Adam AJ Moore (@ADooMMeaR) December 12, 2018
Ok this made me so proud. To think Pantene Philippines came out with a commercial supporting the transgender community is way beyond awesome. You don't often get to see something like this here in Europe. So I applaud you. Well done!— Lynn (@msremagen) December 9, 2018
The video ends with a shot of Balot and the three young people portraying the doubt of youth. She gives the powerful message,
“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.”
The ad is particularly important due to where it’s being run. The Philippines is a highly religious country that does not formally recognize transgender people. While the country isn’t necessarily persecuting anyone who is LGBT+, it has also been an uphill battle to enact protections for them.
This campaign comes after the success of another trans-inclusive ad Pantene launched in Thailand earlier this year. The “See beauty, not gender” ad showed people in different professions and asking the audience if they “only [saw] her gender?”
It’s enough to get you emotional.
YESSSS PANTENE PHILIPPINES LIVE IT UPPPPP!!!!! 🇵🇭🇵🇭🇵🇭🇵🇭🇵🇭— Xavier (@XavierKAvila) December 12, 2018
LRT FOUR FOR YOU PANTENE PHILIPPINES IM SO FRICKING EMOTIONAL— 🎄aly @ MERRY VIKMAS🎄 (@alykapedia) December 8, 2018
Tbh I cried so much rn watching that Pantene ad for the Philippines featuring transgender people. 💚💚— Human (@jrbp1_) December 10, 2018
That Philippines Pantene commercial made me cryyyyy.— Kaitlyn Pecson (@thek8lyn) December 9, 2018
OK, who is cutting onions while I am just trying to watch videos?!?!— It Came Upon a Midnight Claire (@ClaireDeLunacy) December 8, 2018
Blessings upon #KevinBalot.
"Remember, you are beautiful and unique—you deserve to be heard, accepted, and loved."
Even Ellen Pompeo can’t hold back the tears.
Me tooo https://t.co/U2wIfDkSIM— Ellen Pompeo (@EllenPompeo) December 9, 2018
@EllenPompeo tweeted abt the Transgender Awareness Campaign of Pantene Philippines and all I can say is (and what I have been saying ever since) we stan a Queen.— Mark 慕锐 (@markmurui) December 9, 2018
The ads have proven popular with the one from the Philippines at over half a million views and very positive comments. We can only hope this leads to a greater acceptance of the trans community in the Philippines and around the world.