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A tale of an unexpected need to consider 'gender pronouns' during a haircare product development project.



We all live in a modern world with modern people with, hopefully, the majority having modern minds.


Planet Earth is home to tribes of humans who individually identify in many different ways, including those who are cisgender, non-binary and transexual.


Presented by Metulas Supplements.


It has never been more important to respect a persons own choices and for the collective to work towards an all inclusive ‘live and let live’ way of existence. Each of us is 100% unique and each of us has a right to traverse our winding paths through this experience we call life, in a manner that we consider is best for ourselves; a journey that is surely hard enough without us being thoughtlessly divisive.


Of course, with different ways of gender ‘identifying’ comes different ways of gender ‘addressing,’ – a matter than has become a ‘topic’ for discussion, (and opinion), worldwide.


So how and why did the matter of pronouns end up needing to be considered by a supplement and complementary product manufacturing company, during the process of creating a new product for haircare?


Whilst the following initial paragraphs of this piece may come across as blatant self-promotion of our yummy and effective drink mixes, (which in itself we do not consider to be a bad thing – it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there and any opportunity to ‘snatch the pork chop’ must be seized), we don’t want such a thinly disguised 'plug,' to result in the early dismissal and discontinuation of the reading of this article before one gets to the ‘meat on the bones,’ – be that the ‘meat on the bones’ of ‘he,’ ‘she,’ ‘they,’ or ‘them,’ -  we found the subject experience to be deeply interesting (and educating) and we hope we can manage to turn that into a thought provoking read for you too. If you genuinely want to miss out about our products, head on down to the bit about Shakespeare, but it may not make sense in the bigger picture. (A blatant attempt to ensure you do read about our products - which we have taken the liberty to sporadically embolden when mentioned, in an attempt to 'plug' them ever further.)


Metulas Supplements is a supplement business, (as already mentioned, so no surprise there), that started with the production of an amino acid, vitamin, and polyphenol ‘Food Supplement Drink Mix Powder’ called Arterial Formulation. Arterial Formulation has a base powder mix of the amino acids L-arginine and L-Citrulline, which are known, when taken together in a specific ratio, to encourage and increase the production of nitric oxide in the cardiovascular system.



Nitric oxide coursing around our veins and arteries can have some awesomely positive effects!


One of those awesomely positive effects, as reported back to us by our customers, who have been taking Arterial Formulation, has been a reduction in their experience of the emotion debilitating occurrence of hair shedding and hair loss, and encouraging signs of hair regrowth! We could not have been more delighted, for them... and of course for us!


To cut a long story, on that part, short – this above remarkable feedback, (which we were getting more and more often…), led us on a journey to develop a new product for our Food Supplement Drink Mix Powder range, which ended up being appropriately (well we think so) named, ‘Hair Therapy.’


Our Hair Therapy Food Supplement Drink Mix Powder started with the same basis formulation as our Arterial Formulation product, and over a period of two years was tested, tasted, tweaked, refined, and evolved, by our formulation gurus, to be specifically more targeting in its mechanism to support healthier hair – the same powerful delivery, (don’t fix what isn’t broken), but with additional punch by adding ‘nutrient packing’ extras such as Collagen, Biotin and Zinc.


We only hit the ground running at the beginning of 2024, after many a hurdle, (such as ‘collagensourcegate,’ and ‘fluffycollagengate,’ which are stories for another time…), with the product launch of Hair Therapy - and the momentum is building!



Now, whilst we are always focussed in the main on promoting our wares, we at ‘Metulas Towers’ are not a team to lay idle in other areas – and ideas for expanding the Hair Therapy range followed hot on the heels of our Hair Therapy Food Supplement Drink Mix Powder launch!


The Research & Design team tabled Hair Therapy Rice Protein shampoo & Conditioner Bars, and an idea for a unique hair oil formulation. ‘Hair Oil 15,’ (as it was eventually named due to it's final blend being made up of 15 naturally derived ingredients rich in essential oils), pipping the post to be brought to market first as an ideal complementary product to our Hair Therapy Food Supplement Drink Mix Powder!

Anyone who has any knowledge or experience of product creation and development will know it is not a journey for the faint hearted; and for those who don't, I am sure it is not hard to imagine how tough a gig it can be. You need spines of steel! Everything that could and can challenge, generally does – and it is a sort of blissed relief when the team finally gets on the home run of the ‘labelling’ bit. Starting on the ‘pretty artwork,’ signals that you have arrived at a point in time and space where all of the formulation and ingredient work is finally behind you, and you can get on with getting your product ‘wrappings’ designed, laid out, and approved by the ‘Gods of Consumer Protection,’ – the various organisations of compliance. Which in the case of Hair Oil 15, was the ‘UK Cosmetics Regulations,’ ‘peeps,’ (see what we did there?) and the ruthlessly correct ‘peeps,’ (did it there again!), at the Advertising Standards Authority; all communicated with and managed by a highly competent Compliance Consultant employed by Metulas Supplements, to tick all of the boxes that needed ticking. A process of ingredient safety approval, ‘consumer warnings’ information and label wording, and other required bits and bobs, such as ensuring legible font sizes and that the persons of responsibility contact details are clear. All was bumbling along relatively uneventfully – until, that is, we received our overview appraisal of our label design.


Our design team had created the submitted label layout and added a stamp icon (a symbol of a particular point) to sit at the bottom of the centre panel. A stamp icon which stated:

A stamp icon which we were advised may be best reconsidered.


We were told that it would be much more appropriate to change the wording to read:


‘Suitable for Use by Everyone.’


For reasons, when considering the topic of this article, may be guessed.


If, we were advised, we did not feel to do that, then the recommendation was to remove it altogether.


Whilst we are very much an all-inclusive bunch at ‘Metulas Towers’ – we are a smash up of every ‘type’ you could possibly imagine – we were, surprisingly to us, sort of stopped short in our tracks.


How should we proceed?  We had so many questions. Would such a move be seen as offensive? Offensive to who? Would we be seen as just trying to be 'politically correct?' Would such a statement stamp alienate people? Alienate who? Could we be accused of acting in a 'tongue in cheek' manner and taking advantage of a sensitive topic in an act of stand out self-promotion? Would such a statement stamp enhance our products presence or dimmish it? Would we reduce our target market opportunity, or increase it? Were we just overthinking it? Did it really matter either way? Was it really such a big statement or not? Would anyone even notice?! And to make matters worse, there is an old marketing school of thought that to promote a product for 'everybody' is promote a product for 'nobody!' Great marketing, allegedly, does not target everyone, but targets those who are a match for the product; it focusses on niche. Well, everyone IS a match for Hair Oil 15 so how does that work?! It is a great product that can indeed be used by ALL in a number of ways, so we didn't think such a train of marketing thought applied here; and this was not really about a consumer profile - this was about gender and not some personal demographic?! Some frantic Google market research was not helpful either - we failed to find any examples of products leading the way... with 'brands' presenting themselves with a statement declaring suitable for all modern gender pronouns.


Where to go next?


We decided to ask for input from a friend who goes by the pronoun ‘they.’


‘They’ suggested we learn about the evolution of gender pronouns from a historical point of view and not try to just claw our way through the pendulum influence of 'popular press' opinion and debate, in an effort to come to a decision as to a way forward.


We learnt from our research that language is a dynamic entity, constantly evolving to reflect the ever-changing social, cultural, and political landscape, and that one of the most noticeable shifts in recent years has been in the realm of gender pronouns.


While many may think of gender-neutral pronouns as a modern innovation, the truth is that the history of gender-neutral language stretches back centuries. Gender-neutral pronouns are not a new concept. In fact, English used to have a gender-neutral pronoun: "thou." "Thou" was used to refer to individuals in a familiar or informal manner, regardless of gender. However, over time, "thou" fell out of favour, and "you" became the standard second-person pronoun. The English language then developed gendered pronouns, with "he," "him," and "his" used to refer to male individuals and "she," "her," and "hers" used to refer to female individuals. This binary system persisted for centuries, but as societal attitudes towards gender began to change, so too did language. The late 20th and early 21st centuries saw a growing recognition of non-binary and gender-nonconforming identities, leading to a demand for gender-neutral pronouns. One of the earliest gender-neutral pronouns to gain popularity was "they/them/theirs." While traditionally used as plural pronouns, "they" and its derivatives began to be used as singular pronouns to refer to individuals whose gender identity was non-binary or unknown. The use of "they" as a singular pronoun is not a new phenomenon. In fact, its usage can be traced back to the 14th century. Writers such as Chaucer and Shakespeare used "they" as a singular pronoun, and it was commonly used in spoken English as well. However, in the 18th and 19th centuries, grammarians began to prescribe "he" as the default pronoun for singular individuals of unknown gender, leading to the decline of singular "they."



In recent years, there has been a resurgence of singular "they" as a gender-neutral pronoun. This resurgence can be attributed in part to the LGBTQ+ rights movement, which has brought increased visibility to non-binary and gender-nonconforming individuals. In 2015, the American Dialect Society chose the singular "they" as their Word of the Year, further solidifying its place in the English language.

While much of the focus on gender-neutral pronouns has been on English, many other languages have gender-neutral pronouns as well. For example, in Swedish, the gender-neutral pronoun "hen" was added to the official dictionary in 2015. In Spanish, the traditional masculine "o" and feminine "a" endings are sometimes replaced with the gender-neutral "e" ending.


It is therefore clear to us here at ‘Metulas Towers,’ that as our understanding of how people wish to present their gender continues to evolve, so too will our language, and therefore how we present our language on products may need to be sometimes considered. Gender-neutral pronouns are just one example of how language and language presentation adapts to reflect the diversity of human experience; and this is what this is all about at the end of the day, the diversity of human experience. As more people embrace non-binary and gender-nonconforming identities, as indeed we feel they should be able to if that is their desire, we can expect to see even greater acceptance and use of gender-neutral pronouns in the years to come; and as we continue to strive for inclusivity and acceptance, gender-neutral pronouns will play an increasingly important role in our language and our lives and the way we promote products.


Well – that sort of nailed it for us. Rather than feeling ‘ahead of a curve’ – we concluded we were more ‘surfing a wave’ that has been rolling in for some time... and that felt the respectful thing to do.


We called our friend to tell what we had concluded, and another friend of theirs took the call. When we shared our findings and decision to change the stamp icon… the other friend simply said:


“They will be delighted, we are after all talking Shakespeare!”


Metulas Supplements is a British brand committed to delivering top-quality amino acid-based Food Supplement Drink Mixes and complementing products. A family-owned business that prides itself on its dedication to scientific research and product quality. Every formulation offered has been created by a team of expert nutritionists and scientists and every line of production undergoes rigorous test and quality control procedures, ensuring every tub meets the highest standards of efficacy and safety; and most importantly the formulations do what they say they are going to do! All Metulas Supplements Food Supplement Drink Mixes are made in the UK - a country recognised for its world class manufacturing. The team are committed to customer satisfaction and customer support. If you have any questions relating to any information in these blogs or would like to know more about the products of Metulas Supplements or have any questions at all - head over to www.metulassupplements.com and drop us a line!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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