We met with Canadian artist Vivek Shraya as part of the Canadian launch of Pantene’s Hair Has No Gender campaign.

Photo courtesty of Pantene Canada

With its #HairHasNoGender campaign, launched last year in Europe, Pantene wanted to highlight the role hair plays in the transition and identity of many trans and non-binary people. The initiative has (finally!) landed on our side of the Atlantic with the multidisciplinary Canadian artist Vivek Shraya who, in a gorgeous video, recounts the positive impact that her hair and her loved ones’ support played in her transition.

“I was a little worried at first when the Pantene team told me they wanted to include one of my close relatives in the video. My parents, who immigrated from India, don’t use the words ‘transgender’ or ‘transition,’ but there are many ways to be open, and that’s what the campaign meant to demonstrate. Just the fact that my father agreed to take part in this project is a way for him to show his support, and to let me know he accepts and loves me for the person I am,” explains Shraya on the phone. According to her, shining a spotlight on different realities is fundamental if we want to adequately discuss the lives of trans and non-binary people. “What attracted me from the beginning is that this initiative puts forward diverse voices telling their own stories, proving that there’s a multitude of ways to be a trans or non-binary person. And that there are also many ways to accept these realities. Often, in this type of campaign, one person represents the ‘minority’ in a sea of the ‘dominant population.’ Even if the intention is good, the result isn’t always successful and is often more akin to tokenism [the practice of making symbolic efforts to include minority groups in order to avoid accusations of discrimination].” The video, in which Shraya recreates a family photo with her father, was also an opportunity for the Pantene ambassador to sit with him and reminisce on the key moments of their relationship. “As an immigrant family man, my father always worked extremely hard to put food on our table. Finding a photo of us was difficult, but it allowed my father to share his own memories.”