Haircare brand L'Oréal creates safe spaces for transgender community in Puerto Rico through network of salons.
This article was originally published in Contagious I/O on 27 April 2022
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Hair is an important part of the transitioning process for a transgender person, but salons can be intimidating, hostile and discriminatory environments.
To provide safe spaces for this vulnerable group, L’Oréal Professional Products has partnered with agency Sajo//McCann, San Juan, and LGBTQ+ organisation True Self Foundation to open a chain of hair salons in Puerto Rico trained to cater to the needs of trans men and women.
The network, called Transformation, currently comprises 10 salons across the island of Puerto Rico. In each salon, stylists have been trained to create a comfortable environment for those transitioning and provide specific guidance on hair, image and colour, to help trans customers achieve their desired look.
The True Self Foundation is a Puerto Rican non-profit organisation that works on behalf of communities of diversity in sexual orientation and gender identity to promote social mobility, wellbeing, and entrepreneurship and university access through the granting of scholarships. The organisation also helps lower the barrier to transitioning with partial scholarships for gender affirmation surgery and free legal services for changing names.
In a campaign film, customers describe the transformative importance of hair to their self-confidence. ‘It’s a tool that empowers me, makes me feel pretty, boosts my self esteem, and visually projects how I want people to see me,’ explains Adi, a trans woman. ‘Any place that is a safe space is really important, but one that can focus on mental health [is] one of a kind.’
‘For someone who is transitioning, hair is very important,’ said Víctor Cabezas, partner and SVP creative director of Sajo//McCann, in a press release. ‘It is not as easy as leaving it long or short, because it requires a more complete process. This is how we want to continue building a meaningful brand platform for L'Oréal Professional Products and strengthen the self-esteem and self-determination behind “Because I'm worth it”.’
In addition to training stylists, L’Oréal will donate a $15,000 scholarship to the True Self Foundation for cosmetology schools in Puerto Rico.
Brand DNA / L’Oréal’s ‘Because you’re worth it’ tagline has been in use since the early 1970s, when it was coined by a 23-year-old female copywriter at McCann in Manhattan. Its universal message, which highlights self-confidence, continues to be relevant and enables the brand to engage in purpose-led initiatives like this one. The Transformation salons are a tangible, meaningful way for L’Oréal to put action behind words, by establishing a network of safe spaces where a marginalised community can feel ‘worth it’. Hair may be a second thought to some, but L’Oréal shows how it plays a powerful role in the identity of a trans person, while reiterating the importance of safe, accepting spaces for this community.
Inclusivity with impact / There are obvious comparisons to be made between this campaign and a recent Pride campaign by Pantene, which saw the hair care brand champion self-expression among Japanese job hunters who identify as transgender. However, the two campaigns solve different problems: Pantene is shining a light on discrimination, while L’Oréal is providing a safe space for those who may not feel safe in a traditional salon. Through the Transformation salons, L’Oréal employs its network of influence for good – L’Oréal Professional Products are found in salons, and those salons are the perfect place for the brand to practise inclusivity with authenticity and relevance. Another brand that has solved a painpoint of the trans community in a way that it is best placed to do, is Mastercard. The True Name card enables chosen names to appear on the front of bank cards, saving trans people the humiliation or danger of being deadnamed and misrepresented. As McCann New York EVP global executive creative director Pierre Lipton told Contagious, ‘The most effective and important way you can support a cause is through your core competency.’ For more on this topic, check out other examples in our Inclusivity for Impact trend.