This morning, I had luscious red velvet cake for dessert after a very sumptuous Seafood Curry lunch date with one of my besties in the whole wide universe. 🙂 I highly recommend the Banoffee pie, though, which I got to try in my previous date with myself in the same place. It’s at The ROC (Bahay ng Alumni, UP Diliman).
Post-Facebook and Twitter deletion, I instantly realized how few my friends really are. And it’s good cause at least I did not have to maintain keeping in touch with too many people. It’s depleting my energy and I could use more quality time with the few people who actually matter and the hundreds of books on my shelf that begs for my attention. (Not to mention my JOB deliverables!!!! HAHAHA!)
It was the happy girl talk on a humid Saturday. The discussion suddenly turned to the concept of beauty, and how unfair society has been to only label one type of beauty as the acceptable type of beauty. For months, my good friend has been in a perpetual quandary of secondguessing herself. A trio of handsome men flocked over her in her recent trip. I was delighted, but I was not surprised at her out of country haba ng hair moment. She was absolutely incredulous, and unaware that I had always been expecting this story to happen to her one of these days.
I found this very fascinating that an amazing person such as she (and I am saying this not just because she is my bestfriend!) is will have these issues about not feeling beautiful enough, about not feeling adequate enough… It was really a case of not feeling enough, in general. And how prevalent this issue of “not enough-ness” is!
I just silently watched her as she drank her coffee, thinking of telling her things like: You are awesome! Why are you so frigging unaware of how awesome you are? 🙂 The guys were merely just appreciating what was already there. 🙂
But each time I tried, she just brushes it off and thinks that I must say this all because I am her friend.
The awakening to her beauty was a long one, and a hard to believe one, as far as she was concerned. Because this society always goes for the size zero, for the one with the hourglass or stick-thin figure, and the one with the good makeup. Much of the inhabitants of this country go for the fairest skin, making whiteness as the barometer of beauty.
The credits and the fancy dress endorsements go to the chinky-eyed soap opera types, the half-half mix that previously wreaked havoc in Bayo’s advertising campaign, the thin-legged ramp models…Occasionally, I see a plus-sized ad and I applaud silently in my head. There is hope, but it’s a small ember compared to the conflagration of trying to look like a certain body type.
To be fair, I have thin legs, and I have the Oriental features that somehow fare well in this side of the world.
But like my good friend who is younger than me by a few years, I spent years of my life looking at the mirror with a lot of criticisms. Most women have that; the gifted ones who are enlightened by their beauty since birth are few and far in between.
In high school, I was copyreading in a national contest. And I was fairly good at it, probably because I practiced with my own physical appearance every single day of my life.
I criticized my apple type body shape, my jawline or a lack thereof in some angles, and the roundness of my face. Always, I find something wrong with me. Always, I force myself to do something drastic. In fourth grade, I even remember poking both sides of my cheeks with my ballpen to “produce” dimples because I just think they looked so good and I want them so bad. I even considered getting artificial dimples. I was ten years old, and I was already considering it. Insane, right? (I do have dimples but they are at the back of my shoulders. It’s cute but I don’t usually flash my shoulders when saying hi to someone, right? HAHA.)
Before I awakened to the fact that the concept Beauty is not objective but a realization that is meant to be summoned from the innermost depths of myself, I was frequently melancholic, wishing a lot of things to happen naturally, magically, or even surgically.
Occasionally, I still wish I had Venus Raj’s waistline. Or that I had her height. Or Angelina Jolie’s sensuous appeal. But I have eventually learned to love the beauty outside the magazine covers and beauty pageants. I appreciate other people’s assets but I have learned to take an asset inventory of myself, taking out the critical lens with which I used to see myself.
My form…It was not less beautiful in as much as it was not as publicized or encouraged as an acceptable type of beauty… But it was me.
Fundamentally, you have to be strong enough to be sure of who you are in this world because it’s so easy to get lost, to think that you have to be a certain way to be acceptable or to matter, for that matter. I just learned to be kind to myself and I have slowly began forgiving myself for the needless torture.
I just realize how we are all so overly concerned with form, with certain symmetries, and with certain types of appearances. It’s so endemic and as natural as the oxygen we breathe. I wonder how many more little girls will think that something is wrong with them because they do not look or resemble the ones they see on TV.
And I think that in the short span of life, it’s so unfair to obsess over something so… limiting. When we all get old, we all look like raisins and it no longer matters what you look like!!! And yet, we have billion-dollar industries for keeping everything as ironed as freshly-ironed clothes.
I cannot remember the time where I became perfectly comfortable with myself.
I cannot remember the time when I awakened to the beauty that was mine and mine only for the taking. There may be a lot of chinky-eyed and round faces in this side of the world, but I just knew that I had something else. When I became more sure of my footing with my appearance, I comfortably settled into it, the way you settle in a new place after it ceases to be alien and it becomes your happy home. I am at home with who I am, with my body, and with myself– all the good, average, and ugly parts of it.
It no longer matters if people insensitively make comments about my weight or my appearance because I have made peace with myself and we have progressed.
I am not totally there yet, that nirvana of awakening to one’s Beauty. I still feel guilty when I eat a lot of rice for lunch or dinner. I still find things I “copyread” in myself when I look in the mirror. But compared to the fourth-grade kid who was short of drilling a hole in her cheek decades ago, I guess I have accepted myself well enough to know that there are certain clothes that don’t suit me, that there are styles that are boombastic to my body type, and ultimately, it is what’s emanating from the inside that makes a woman beautiful.
I learned to walk in high heels without making a complete ass of myself, I learned to feed my mind, and I basically learned to veer towards the beauty that does not fade with age.
It is the beauty beyond form that fuels everything, and it is the beauty well worth waking up to each morning.