Here at Byrdie, we know that beauty is way more than braid tutorials and mascara reviews. Beauty is identity. Our hair, our facial features, our bodies: They can reflect culture, sexuality, race, even politics. We needed somewhere on Byrdie to talk about this stuff, so welcome to The Flipside (as in the flip side of beauty, of course!), a dedicated place for unique, personal, and unexpected stories that challenge our society's definition of "beauty." Here, you'll find cool interviews with LGBTQ+ celebrities, vulnerable essays about beauty standards and cultural identity, feminist meditations on everything from thigh gaps to eyebrows, and more. The ideas our writers are exploring here are new, so we'd love for you, our savvy readers, to participate in the conversation, too. Be sure to comment your thoughts (and share them on social media with the hashtag #TheFlipsideOfBeauty). Because here on The Flipside, everybody gets to be heard.
From a young age, girls are taught that long hair is feminine and that traditional femininity should be the norm. However, this definition of beauty doesn’t sit right with everyone. Experimenting with your beauty identity can be the first step toward self-acceptance, and for some women, chopping off your hair can be a big part of that. Unfortunately, however, not everyone is going to embrace this departure from conventionally “feminine” beauty. And an inspiring new short film is addressing just that.
“You’re not welcome here. Men’s only.” These words were printed on a sign outside a Utah barbershop where a woman named Kylee Howell was attempting to get a haircut. It’s an experience that would eventually lead Howell to team up with Dove and Shonda Rhimes to share her #RealBeauty story through a new film titled Meet Kylee. Growing up, Kylee struggled to find her own beauty identity. Feminine beauty (long hair, pink lips) was the norm in her conservative town, but this didn't align with how she felt inside.
Finally, in her 20s, Howell decided to cut her hair short, and eventually, to help others on their own journeys to self-acceptance, she opened Friar Truck’s Barbershop in Salt Lake City, a place where women can explore their own definitions of beauty.
Meet Kylee is the second film developed by Dove Real Beauty Productions with Shonda Rhimes as creative director. The 100% female crew involved shifts the power of storytelling from male-centric Hollywood to the hands of real women. It’s a welcome change, considering that 69% of women report that they don’t see themselves reflected in advertisements, movies, or television. Research also shows that 74% of women believe more needs to be done to redefine the current definition of beauty to be more inclusive.
Many gay and lesbian women feel excluded from this narrative altogether—in fact, three out of four gay and lesbian women believe society suggests they do not care about beauty. Meet Kylee is finally giving a voice to women whose definitions of beauty might not fit the norm.
You can view the short film now below.
Up next: Check out why we need more femme lesbian beauty icons in the movies.