This week Procter & Gamble debuted a new video for Secret deodorant as part of their “Stress Test” ad campaign. The ad entitled “Ladies Room” depicts Dana, a transgender woman, steeling herself to leave the anonymity of the bathroom stall and join the other women in at the sinks and mirrors of a public restroom. As Dana emerges, the subtitles proclaim:
“Stress test #8260. Dana finds the courage to show there’s no wrong way to be a woman.”
The ad is poignant on a few levels. One, it accurately conjures up the stress and apprehension many transgender people feel in trying to safely access public restrooms. Secondly, it ties the experience of Dana, a transgender woman, into an experience more universal to all women - transgender or cisgender - about what it means to “be a woman.” The positive message for Dana that there’s “no wrong way to be a woman” not only reinforces Dana’s womanhood but has the potential to resonate for any woman who has ever felt she fails to ‘measure up’ to a societal standard of womanhood.
“I always have moments of insecurity but I have conditioned myself to act unbothered,” Karis Wilde, the actor in the ad, who identifies as an androgynous queer artist, told Queerty. “While shooting, I allowed myself to feel vulnerable. It terrified me how much I’ve stored all those emotions; I almost cried in the middle of taping.”
Procter & Gamble has a score of 100 on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index, an annual survey and report that benchmarks the LGBTQ inclusive policies, practices and benefits of America’s largest companies. A portion of the CEI recognizes a company’s external-facing efforts to engage and support the LGBTQ community including inclusive advertising, recruiting and philanthropy,.
Telling stories such as Dana’s, whether through ads or through narratives based on real-life experiences, has the power to shape culture and change hearts and minds. HRC salutes Secret and the team at Procter & Gamble for this thoughtful and well-told story of inclusion.
Check out HRC’s Buying for Workplace Equality Guide for information on more inclusive brands.