Real beauty

During one of those sleepless nights, I watched a documentary tackling the Filipinas’ take on beauty.

Among the case studies it featured were a colegiala who underwent a noselift, a young woman who got her desired weight through bulimia, and a robust woman who became an accomplished triathlete.

Clearly, the two young women were among the thousands of other girls around the world who were victimized by a society that set unrealistic standards of beauty.

It’s difficult to match up to the image of the “beautiful woman” with the high-bridged nose, fine straight hair, fair flawless skin, modelesque height and an hourglass body when you come from a race that is naturally pango, kulot, kayumanggi, maliit and either mapayat or mataba.

I believe everyone knows what it’s like to be eaten by insecurity issues. It’s not something you can easily deal with or throw away.

Although I may not agree with undergoing plastic surgery or inducing bulimia to combat insecurity, I respect women who can move past their issues, decide to take action and stand bravely by their decision.

But I have great admiration for those women who can accept themselves with their God-given qualities as well as their flaws and can confidently live their lives to the fullest.

Just like this woman triathlete. She was far from the stereotype of athletic women with toned muscles and streamlined physiques. She was very far from it. But she was healthy and actively doing things most women can only imagine. More than that, she exudes confidence that can only come from being happy and content with who she is.

And that, for me, makes her truly beautiful and sexy.

Aside from being a successful triathlete, she is also a mother to a teenage girl whom she encourages to explore different fields of interest. I think she’ll grow up to have a healthy self-esteem just like her mom.

This leads me to think about Jamaine. Sometimes I have anxieties about how to raise her.

Definitely, I want her to grow up with a healthy self-esteem, to have an appreciation of her talents and to be confident about her natural beauty. And I believe my role as her mom would play a major factor for her to achieve all these.

My real beauty story

Growing up, I also had my share of insecurities.

I was the only girl in the family and Kuya was my constant playmate. Though I had my cooking sets and stuffed dolls, I would play with his toy cars and Lego blocks. I had the tendency to be boyish and brisk. But I was young and I was too happy playing to even care.

When I grew old enough to participate and understand the workings of family gatherings, I realized I was “flawed.”

Relatives naturally mean well and want you to be better, I know. But sometimes, they do have the tendency to make you feel otherwise.

I was a slender kid but I had dark skin and thick, wavy hair. I would often get compared to my cousins who had milky-white skin and fine straight hair. Some would even ask out loud who was the most beautiful among us. I never dared to find out the answer.

Nevertheless, I tried to make the most of what I had.

In school, I grew more and more interested in reading and writing. And I excelled in these subjects. I thought, I may not be the most beautiful girl in class but I knew I was good at something.

Thanks to my mom’s genes, I grew up thin no matter how much I ate so I never had weight issues. If only I had inherited her fine hair too, it would have been just perfect. But of course, you can’t have it all.

My thick, wavy and unruly hair continued to torment me. One schoolmate who saw me combing my hair even remarked, “Ang dami mong patay na buhok!”

Out of sympathy, my friend offered to pick out all my “dead hairs” so that only the live (a.k.a. a bit straight) ones would remain. We decided to meet up at the gym after school with the mission to resurrect my hair. But she stopped in the middle of hair picking. She realized that if she removed all my “dead hairs,” I would end up half bald.

At times, I would look at the beautiful girls in school – the ones who were fortunately born with a great height, flawless skin, celebrity good looks and most of all, smooth, long hair. They were the ones linked to the finest boys in school. Those boys who were not so fortunate ogled at them when they pass by. And sometimes I wished I could be just like them.

In high school, my horror hair still haunted me.

All the girls, it seemed, had great straight hair except me.

During this time, I did join and win some beauty contests, but I was never completely ridden of my insecurity.

Everyday, I would look at the mirror and wonder, was it too much to ask for a good hair day?
I fell prey to the false promises of advertising and asked my mom to buy me different shampoos and conditioners. I just got frustrated because nothing worked for me.

By this time, hair straightening was in vogue but I neither had the guts nor the money to undergo it. I resorted to strangling my “dead hair” in tight ponytails to keep them tidy. The scrunchy and comb became my bestfriends and I never left home without them.

In college, I became too preoccupied with more important things to bother about vanity.

My wavy-haired friend A and I decided to cut our hair short, slap on a generous amount of Suave and comb it back for a fuss-free wet look. We actually looked mannish and oily, but we thought we were pretty.

My self-esteem took a whole new turn for the better when I entered the real world.

As I started to work and earn my own money, I discovered the wonders of rebonding, relaxing and hair spas.

I bought beauty magazines, studied trends in beauty and applied those that enhanced my features. I took stock of my assets and exerted effort to look and dress better.

I took care of myself. I read motivational and inspirational books leading me to discover a wonderful new side of me.

I felt empowered.

Finally, I believed and I felt that I was truly beautiful.

People who see me would comment that I looked blooming. It might be due to the shine serum that I applied on my hair or the cheek tint that promised to give me a just-pinched blush.

But I’d like to think that what they see is the inner glow that radiates from within me. Something I got, not from beauty products, but from a wholehearted acceptance of everything that I am.

I still look at other gorgeous girls and take note of their assets, but I no longer envy them. I admire them.

When I face the mirror, I no longer wish to look like some famous supermodel or straight-haired celebrity.

I know there are a million other beautiful girls in the world.

But there can only be one beautiful me.


mai said…
hehe! do i hear the song here from the commercial of Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty?
But I see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that's why I love you
So don't be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful,
Like a rainbow

hehe! am just curious..sinong
classmate yun? hehe!
Lynda said…
oh, di ba? anong sinabi ng real beauty (?) campaign ng dove?

continue writing, kahit sa blog, you still write so flawlessly and so heart-felt :-) enjoying and learning from your writings
Anonymous said…
wow! we actually have the same dilemma (hair problem). I have been having this problem for like FOREVER! Believe me, I even tried talking to my hair baka kasi parang plants, madadaan sa pakiusap :)

I have not tried rebonding nor hair relax... nakakatakot kasi... syempre buhok yan... baka malagas so im only into dyeing my hair to stand out. Ngyn, i think it's kinda giving up on me so i have to let it be for sometime bago ko siya kulayan ulit.

grabe!! manganganak ka na! good luck!

Shari said…
Beautiful entry. :)

I personally won't undergo surgery just to change something in my body that other people don't find attractive. I know my self-confidence is to die for (meaning, I can actually end up dead in the corner because it's so low). But I've long ago stopped caring about how I feel when other people look at me. I can never measure up to their standards, but at least I'm not the one oozing with insecurity for superficial things. All I can say is that I make my own standards. It's such a shame that people feel bad about themselves just because of something like this.

I have an uber unruly hair too. :) Maybe I'll also discover the wonders of beauty products and processes, but right now, even though I know others are not contented with how I look like, I'm happy the way I am.
Angel Jayme said…
Mai: Korek! Actually, isa nga yan sa mga commercial dun sa docu na yun. Secret na lang kung sino yung classmate na yun. Hehe...

Lynds: Salamat! Dito ko na lang kasi nailalabas ang frustration ko sa pagsusulat. Nakaka-touch naman to know that you read my blog.

Rach: Hay naku, sinubukan ko rin "kausapin" ang buhok ko nung bata ako. But I've learned to accept my hair the way it is now. The more I subject it to abuse, the more it rebels. I guess all it needs are acceptance, some tender loving care and a good stylist. Hehe...

Shari: Thanks! I guess that's the hardest part: learning not to care about what other people think and just take care of yourself. You're right, we have to set our own standards for ourselves because that's the only way we'll ever measure up. Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.


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