By Lalaine Chu-Benitez
“Kamusta na? Eto, nananaba.”
We, Pinoys are so obsessed about our weight and the way we look. We just don’t know it but we’re absolutely fixated on perfection – whatever that means in our head.
Does this sound familiar? “Forget about that nice dress with the perfect color, I can’t bare my arms because they are sooo big.” “I need to hide my ‘extra curves’ because I ate so much food during my holiday.” We can’t wear a swimsuit because we’re insecure of that extra baggage on the tummy. Sometimes, even with swimsuit on, you can’t let go of the towel because of that peklat (scar) on the left thigh you’ve been nursing since you were six years old, or in case your singit (groin) or even armpits (que horror!) are not ‘white enough’. Boys can’t go topless on the beach, because of the slightest of paunches – or maybe that ‘dad bod’ they’ve had forever.
We go over our ideal weight by a mere hair (read: isang guhit lang) and we feel so fat and ugly. We’re so self-conscious, we feel guilty and apologetic after having a sinfully satisfying meal (thought balloon – diet the next day, diet the next day, diet the next day…).
This obsession has become so consuming that some of us even feel the need to medicate. In my former corporate life in the pharmaceutical industry, I was astounded to learn via a market study, that Filipinas then where the main buyers of a certain brand of fat blocker. Something that surprised non-Pinoy pharmacists, since these Filipina consumers, were in fact, slim or average sized compared to other nationalities that were more prone to obesity.
But this fixation gets even worse when we start applying that skewed perspective when we look at other people. In the progressive world, it is not PC (politically correct) to be calling or labelling people ‘fat,’ whereas, in our community, it’s usually part of casual conversation – just like how the Brits would talk about the weather.
“Kamusta?” “Hoy, ang taba-taba mo na, ha!”
Seriously? Since when has it been okay to prick somebody’s confidence, or crush somebody’s self-image (depending on how body-conscious they are), in the first two seconds of meeting – just when you’re supposed to be saying your “hi’s” and “hello’s”?
Ah, the pitfalls of growing up in a community where the preference is for the balingkinitan na maputi at makinis (the slim-fair-smooth one).
Power to the Pinoy: Dahling, I’m not fat. You’re just obsessed.
But hey, just look at the others. Sure, Hollywood and media in general have played a big part in contributing to self-loathing in this day and age, but go visit the pool, the beach, or even the gym. In fact, just look around you. You will find non-Filipinos of different shapes and sizes, including BBWs (Big Beautiful Women) and BBBs (Big Beautiful Boys) out there in the open. They’re confident about themselves and couldn’t care less about what others might think.
In need of an injection of confidence? Just look at somebody imperfect, perfectly fine with themselves and go from there.
That is not to say that we shouldn’t be working on being fit and healthy, and improving ourselves. But more than anything else, we need to work on learning to love ourselves – love handles, peklats and all. Because no amount of crunches, or even fat blockers, will purge you from that self-loathing when you look into the mirror and face your truth.
We are beautiful. And you best believe it.
Power to the Pinoy. Let’s stop obsessing about weight, shall we?
Editor-in-Chief and aspiring urban farmer “almost superwoman” Lalaine has been driving Illustrado’s mission to uplift Filipinos in the region for almost a decade now. A former corporate dynamo living in Dubai for over 20 years, she has seen enough to appreciate that the best things in life can’t be bought, and that in this day and age, authenticity could be one’s best asset.