Why we have chosen to be a gender free cosmetics brand?

Because we do not accept the idea that there are only two fixed and universal genders. 

The dominant gender system of today can mostly be traced back to a few European nations with Christian culture and was only imposed upon the rest of the world through their process of colonization. Non-conformist /Non-binary/ Trans/Intersex people have always had their place in many non-European societies and their "normality" was never questioned.

Although there are many examples for this from several cultures and societies, here we will focus on the Beninese society (in West Africa), simply because it is the culture, we know best and we feel entitled to speak for it. We prefer to let everyone speak for their society. 

Here are 4 facts 

Appellation

In southern Benin in the Fongbé language, Non-binary, Trans and Non-conformist people are  usually called "Sounnou-Younnou". Sounou means man and Younnou means woman. The same principle applies in Kotokoli, a language spoken in northern Benin and Togo where they are called "Alun'balu".

Society has accepted the idea that feminine energy can reside in a masculine  appearing body and masculine energy can reside in a feminine appearing body.

Traditional religions

In voodoo, the first religion before Christianity, the Gods and Deities do not have a specific gender. The God/Goddess Mamiwata (Aka Yemaja/Lemanja in Brazil and Cuba.) whose image is represented and seen as a female, can choose to manifest her/him-self in a person of male or female appearance. And these persons are highly worshipped, respected and are called either Mami-si for Mamiwata's wife or Mami-sou for Mamiwata's husband.

Here again, the acceptance of the fluidity of gender is clearly noticeable and so it is with all the other Gods of the Voodoo religion.

First names

Whereas in European and Christian influenced societies first names are almost all exclusively linked to the male gender or the female gender, in Benin and in several African cultures there is a great variety of first names that are not assigned to any specific gender and can be used by everyone. And these are the most popular names.

Pronouns

As Africa is extremely rich in languages and dialects, we can notice that many of our languages have only one singular pronoun to designate all genders. In contrast to European languages where there are usually two or three, a masculine pronoun, a feminine pronoun and a neutral pronoun to designate animals or things.

Again, some examples of Benin ( We have chosen only 3 languages, among about twenty)

LANGUAGES  PRONOUNS
FON E (She/He)
YORUBA ó (She/He)
DENDI

A (She/he)

While today, inclusive writing is the subject of debate in the West, African languages have long carried it in their DNA.

There are so many facts that we have not listed yet, but we stick to these 4 above.

They shall serve as a reminder that even if not everything was perfect in Africa – like everywhere else – African countries, before colonization, had good foundations for a non-binary, more inclusive society. But unfortunately, today it is the continent where we notice the most gender and sexual orientation phobia. The colonial legacy has even given rise to a denial and rejection of some pre-colonial African values so today we sadly hear phrases like "being non-binary is un-African.” 

If in 2020 we decided to launch a gender-free cosmetics brand, and not to design our products around only one or two genders (woman and/or man), it is precisely because we know some people can be more than their external appearance and we do not want to reject their existence. We accept, celebrate the energies in people, non-binarity, and fluidity in gender, as did our ancestors.

We simply believe in being human and in a society where acceptance and inclusiveness is the norm. Everyone has a body, a face and hair, so everyone deserve to be included in the beauty industry.