Shaving is a milestone in any man’s life, but it’s usually a private, intimate task.
But for Samson Brown, a Toronto-based artist and activist, the experience was anything but.
The short film, titled First Shave, is Gillette’s first advertisement featuring a transgender man.
The video begins with Brown seated on a couch beside his father.
“Growing up, I was always trying to figure out what kind of man I wanted to become,” Brown says. “And I’m still trying to figure out what kind of man that I want to become.
“I always knew I was different. I didn’t know that there was a term for the type of person that I was,” he continues. “I went into my transition just wanting to be happy. I’m glad I’m at the point where I’m able to shave.”
The video then cuts to Brown’s bathroom, where he is seen hesitantly holding a razor, positioned at his neck.
His father looks on as his son begins to shave.
“Don’t be scared,” Brown’s father encourages. “Shaving is about being confident.”
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“I’m at the point in my manhood where I’m actually happy,” Brown says in the video. “It’s not just myself transitioning, it’s everyone around me transitioning.”
The video ends with Gillette’s slogan, “the best a man can get.”
In a statement, Pankaj Bhalla, brand director for Gillette and Venus North America, said the company “supports everyone in their journey to looking, feeling and acting their best every day.”
“That includes our own journey as a brand committed to using our platform to showcase real, diverse and inclusive stories of men working toward their ‘best’ selves,” Bhalla said. “Samson’s story in First Shave is a perfect example of that commitment because whenever, wherever, however it happens, your first shave is special.”
The ad is part of Gillette’s larger #MyBestSelf campaign.
And, as part of the initiative, the brand has partnered with Toronto-based non-profit The 519 to support trans-inclusive programs.
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According to Brown, this is why he chose to share his first shave experience.
“My dad always told me that whatever I do, I should be the best at it; and I wanted to be a part of this campaign because Gillette is encouraging everyone to be their best, just like my dad for me,” Samson said in a statement. “My dad’s encouragement came from a place of love and gave me the confidence to express my true authentic self.”
In a Facebook post accompanying the advertisement, Brown thanked Gillette for sharing his story.
“Thank you so much Gillette for allowing me to share such an important moment in a man’s life with my father,” he wrote. “I look forward to the great things you’re going to do to encourage us all to be our best selves.”
The ad has now been viewed over a million times and has received thousands of comments thanking Brown for sharing his story, and commending the company for its inclusivity.
“Wow! Beautiful commercial! Thank you, Gillette! Representation and inclusivity matters,” Facebook user Caryssa Dooley commented.
“This is absolutely lovely. Thank you Samson for sharing your story and Thank You Gillette for providing a platform. Representation matters. You have just own over a customer for life!!” Taryn Petryk wrote.
First Shave is scheduled to appear on the big screen at the 2019 Inside Out LGBT Film Festival in Toronto.