Leyna Bloom is a proud transgender actress, model, dancer and activist living in Brooklyn. Her identity is both uniquely intersectional and deeply rooted in her heritage. Bloom is paving the way for young people everywhere, and she is passionately making change both on and off the screen.
For the next installment of our new series Hair Unstereotyped, we sat down with Bloom to discuss her relationship to her hair and how it’s impacted by her heritage and identity. Based on the premise that there’s more than just one hair story to be told, this project aims to diversify the conversation around hair and highlight real stories. Keep reading to learn more about Blooms’s relationship with her hair:
Hair Unstereotyped: Leyna Bloom
Paying Homage to Heritage
Bloom says that she feels she wouldn’t understand her hair if she didn’t pay such close attention to her heritage.
“Growing up, I had six brothers and sisters and all our hair textures were different,” she says. “On my mom’s side of the family, which is Filipino, I’m looking at all the different forms of curly and wavy Filipino hair. And there are also certain indigenous tribes that have been in the Philippines for years that have the same hair texture as me. And also, on my dad’s side of the family, he has curly hair and he has a different texture and my baby brother he has a different hair texture… hair is so important in both forms of my communities.”
Unpacking Masculine and Feminine Stereotypes
When asked whether or not traditional gender stereotypes resonated with her growing up, Bloom admits they didn’t, “All of the beauty standards didn’t resonate with me, it wasn’t just one. Body positivity, height positivity, skin positivity, hair positivity – there are so many spectrums of insecurities we develop with our own uniquenesses and I think it’s an ‘aha moment’ when you come to terms with ‘This is me, this is what I’m with, this is what I have to be with. I’ve got to make this work the best way I can. I’ve got to celebrate it.’ It’s a full-body experience trying to celebrate each part and you can’t have this without the other.”
Bloom is emphatic in expressing that she wouldn’t change anything about herself. She is confidently exactly who she wants to be and how she has always wanted to see herself. And that’s how she feels about her hair, too. “I love the language of my hair,” she says.
I want to see the language of your hair. Because hair is a language. It has its own vibrations, its own personality attached to what’s already yours–it enhances it. I think that’s the best thing about hair.
Inspiration on Hair and Gender
Bloom references history, fashion, and photography books when talking about different genders and identities and the unique blend each person possesses. “That complexity is so beautiful,” she says. “We can even in ourselves transform to one day have short [hair] with red, two years later it’s long and blonde, and you have balayage you have ombré. I think that language of hair evolves with us and we find these styles that work for us, these colors that work for us, these products that work for us. And we just experiment, and we have every right to do that.
“I remember growing up I had mohawks, then a bang, then I had it longer, then I had a body wave and pigtails and box braids. I’d dye it blonde, dye it red, dye it all these different golden colors to see how my beauty can be transformed. And I love seeing how people challenge their beauty and challenge themselves when it comes to expressing themselves. I feel kind of sad for people who have had the same haircut their whole lives.
“I want to see the language of your hair. Because hair is a language. It has its own vibrations, its own personality attached to what’s already yours–it enhances it. I think that’s the best thing about hair–it could really just add another facet to you that’s already yours.”
Bloom’s Hair History
Bloom notes that her hair has changed a lot since she was a child. Growing up, her dad did her hair until she perfected her own styling routine. As an aspiring model, she was always looking for the kind of quality products used backstage at fashion shows and found what she was looking for in TRESemmé products. With her weekly allowance in hand, Bloom would go buy different TRESemmé products to experiment with.
“It would work really good with my hair and it worked good for my sister’s hair texture and our hair textures are very different,” Bloom explains. “So we were both getting really really great bang for our buck, and a great amount of substance for our budget.
Bloom’s Go-to TRESemmé Products
“It feels so great and right now I just washed my hair and it just feels fluffy and moves and it’s flexible and that’s what I want with a haircare line,” Bloom says as she runs her fingers over her curls. “It’s something that’s good for my hair texture. I can also promote it for other people too to let them know that they have options.”
“I used [TRESemmé Flawless Curls Defining Gel] a lot when I was younger and I had shorter hair. It doesn’t get really crazy flaky… I like the fact that the product is lightweight and it’s not extreme and not harsh it doesn’t smell strong. You smell it and you feel refreshed. Your body is your temple and what you put on your body is really important.”
Advice to Those at the Start of Their Journeys
Bloom says the best advice given to her was to take her time, not just with her transition but with everything in her life. “Really do the research and hone in on who you want to be. How is that person different from anything in this world? I think that is the most important thing. We get so caught up in trends, we get so caught up on this and that, and we lose ourselves. But we are inspired by people who go and be different in society. And that moment already is a fire burning–wanting to express yourself.”
“So, I think to take your time and also look back into the past of your people and your heritage. Like, what is the language of your people? Also, bring that with you, bring that language, we carry that everywhere we go even if we don’t know it. Pay homage to that blueprint and know that whatever you do, you have every right to be yourself. And if anyone questions that, it has nothing to do with you. You being you and your most authentic self is your responsibility and that’s the life that you live and no one should deter you from that.”
Allyship in the Beauty Industry
When asked about allyship, Bloom stresses the importance of staying quiet and listening. “This is a conversation that is new to a lot of people and it’s a very nervous conversation because we’re talking about gender,” she says. “We’re talking about essentially sexuality and femininity and masculinity, and all of that is already complex on its own. I think we’re getting to this place in life where we can be comfortable with having conversations. With ourselves most importantly but also with each other.
“I’m glad that you guys are doing this, I’m glad that you’re taking that step. I commend you guys. This is the perfect time to do it because we need it the most. I’m living in New York City and I’m trying to inspire and uplift and keep the vibrations coming and going. And hopefully, we can all grow from each other in this process.”
We want to thank Bloom for sharing her story with us. Hair Unstereotyped aims to shine a light on the lives and journeys of those who don’t always have their voices heard, so check back to hear more from some incredible people.