Pantene has just recently launched its #StrongerNow campaign, a movement that celebrates the strength and resilience of women. With it, the brand unveiled 13 ambassadors from different backgrounds, all with their own transformation story to tell.
Among their roster of inspiring women is Kevin Balot, the first transgender woman to become the face of Pantene Philippines. In an interview with Preview, Kevin opens up about this milestone and her own journey to becoming #StrongerNow.
When asked how she feels about representing a global brand, Kevin says that she's honored that women like her are finally being recognized, especially by a big brand like Pantene. "I'm representing the whole transgender community, so I feel really, really blessed," she notes.
As a child, one of the worst hurdles Kevin had to face was not being accepted by her family. "Rejection from my family, especially from my dad, taught me many things, like the need to be strong for myself," she shares. And that she did. By channeling all her energy to doing what she wanted to do the most, which was to join beauty pageants, she succeeded.
In 2012, she joined Miss International Queen, the most prestigious pageant for transgender women. She ended up winning the competition, despite being only the second choice to represent the country. Many doubted her capacity to win, too, which only further motivated her. "Ang sabi sakin, 'Bakit sasali si Balot eh ang liit-liit niya?' [They said I'm not] beauty queen material," Kevin says. Though in the end, she won the judges' hearts and brought the crown home.
With her past now behind her, we asked Kevin if she has advice for other transgender women who are in her old shoes. "You need to be strong," she says. "Don't be afraid to express yourself and to be judged by everyone. You need to learn from the struggles you're having and do something to make yourself better. I promise that you'll eventually see some changes [in yourself] and become happy."
Truly, if there's anything to learn from Kevin's story, it's that bouncing back from your past is far from impossible. She was strong then, but definitely stronger now. Congratulations, Kevin!