"The most beautiful that someone can be is when they are being most authentically themselves."
It's fair to say that as a culture, we've come a long way in terms of how we define "beautiful"—but there's still so much more we can do. Enter Meet Kylee, a new short video from award-winning producer Shonda Rhimes and Dove.
It tells the story of a woman named Kylee Howell, who grew up surrounded by feminine beauty ideals in a small town in central Utah. Her mother ran a salon out of their home, where most clients came for perms or up-dos for proms. "I was aware that that's what girls were supposed to look like," Howell says. But after years of struggling to figure out who she was and where she fit in, Howell eventually chose to cut her hair short—and that changed everything: "I really felt like I had come into myself, like 'Oh, there you are. That's you," she explains.
Getting the style she wanted wasn't always easy though. The video hints at the judgment and challenges women face when they choose a cut that's not considered "feminine." Barbers know how to cut hair short but, as Howell puts it, barbershops can be "pretty hyper-masculine places."
So she decided to open her own shop: "Friar Tuck's is for anyone. You have hair and you want it cut in a barber style, you can come to Friar Tuck's and get that cut," Howell says.
To get our top stories delivered to your inbox, sign up for the HEALTH newsletter
In a poignant moment in the film, Howell's mother express her pride in her daughter's courageous decision to deviate from society's rigid rules: "I was taught that you looked a certain way, you dressed a certain way. I always wanted to break that mold but I wasn't brave enough. So I raised girls that would."
In two and a half minutes, Meet Kylee manages to deliver a simple but powerful message: There's no such thing as one standard of beauty. "For a really long time I just equated beauty with femininity, and now I think there's a million definitions of beautiful," Howell says. "The most beautiful that someone can be is when they are being most authentically themselves."