Why Filipinas don’t find themselves beautiful
LIVING ALIVE - LIVING ALIVE By Dero Pedero () - September 25, 2005 - 12:00am
According to a study commissioned by Unilever, makers of Dove soap, only five percent of Filipino women consider themselves beautiful. This means that the other 95 percent see themselves as average, below average, or even ugly.

This is disconcerting especially that the Philippines is reputed to have some of the most beautiful women in the world. Our candidates have won in top international beauty pageants, like the Miss Universe and Miss International beauty pageants, and have quite consistently made it to the contests’ semi-finals. Of course, it is debatable whether these victories are a valid indication of nationwide beauty.

Beauty has many dimensions and the most immediate and obvious is the visual aspect. Are Filipinas visually beautiful? To fairly answer the question, look around you and assess the women nearby. Take your department at the office, for instance: how many there would you consider truly beautiful? Actually, you’d be lucky if you’d find one or two. This means that most Filipinas fall short of making it to the "beautiful" category.
The Beauty Standards
The whole thingamajig really depends on your beauty standards: the criteria by which you judge beauty. The truth is, we have been indoctrinated by the mass media – newspapers, magazines, movies, TV, commercials, and billboards – into seeking beauty features, which are often unrealistic and, may I coin, "un-Filipino."

And which attributes are these? A pinched, aquiline nose: the typical Filipino nose is flat and wide (pango), that’s why the beauty-obsessed get pressured into getting a nose job and end up having Michael Jackson’s nose. An aquiline nose just doesn’t sit well on an oriental face. Doll-like, deep set eyes: oriental eyes are usually shallow set and don’t have the deep double fold that Caucasians have. Again, many opt for eye surgery to exaggerate the eye folds, and end up with a squint (kirat) or looking perennially surprised and awake. (Some couldn’t close their eyes to sleep!) Fair skin: beauty advertisements term this as rosy, white skin. This has given rise to the whitening craze. (But do people realize that pigmentation is the body’s natural defense against the cancer-causing rays of the sun?) Again, the Filipino is naturally dusky and golden brown (kayumanggi); white-skinned we can never be, unless afflicted with vitiligo, the condition when irregular patches of skin turn white. Light hair: everyone is dyeing to be blond or a brunette! Model-thin figure: Some are dying to be anorectic and liposuction is the order of the day. Angelina Jolie lips: the bee stung look is in! Breast-feeding size boobs: breast augmentation today, J. Lo derriere augmentation tomorrow? (How can anyone lug those weights of silicone and collagen for life?) Lean, long legs: But Pinays on the average are short and petite. There are no surgical leg stretchers yet, so the recourse is using platform and elevator shoes for now. And so on, and so forth.

The study concludes, "Filipinas find insatiability in beauty. If they do not meet the beauty standards brought forth by magazines and television, they are simply not beautiful." So, what’s the reason why most Pinays don’t consider themselves beautiful? Our beauty standards require attributes that are unnatural to the Filipino!
All The Wrong Signals
We say, "Oh, she’s beautiful! Mukhang artista." But local movie actresses are usually mestizas, and that includes the models on billboards, in magazines and in advertisements. We also say, "Ang ganda! Parang Birhen." We, of course, refer to Christendom’s ultimate epitome of beauty and virtue, the Virgin Mary. Little girls grow up with Barbie dolls, watch Britney’s MTVs, idolize the whitified black girls of Destiny’s Child, and shop at stores where clothes are displayed on white, blond mannequins.

With all these images constantly bombarding the minds of Filipinas, they’ll never see themselves as beautiful. The beautiful is beyond the reach of the average Pinay, and so there is a great pressure for her to either be resigned to her "ugliness" or conform to beauty norms through cosmetic or surgical procedures – but usually looking like a freak afterwards.
In The Eye Of The Beholder
Will the Filipina ever see herself as beautiful? Most probably not.

That is, if we continue to exhibit these unrealistic and "un-Filipino" images of supposed beauty. We need to reprogram our minds and alter the way we see and recognize beauty. We must have more Filipino/Malay-looking actors and models in our movies, advertisements, and television. In addition, we should make brown dolls for our children!

Anna Bayle, the only Filipina who made it to the top modeling ranks in Paris and New York, is dusky and exotic. Had she stayed in mestiza-crazed Manila, she would have been a second-rate model. Her dark skin and beautiful black hair made her stand out as a jewel from the Caucasian models she worked with.

Often, we see foreigners (usually Brad Pitt look-alikes!) who are head over heels in love with a dark, pug-nosed, aborigine-looking provinciana, and we scratch our heads in wonder. They find that kind of beauty exotic and appealing, something we just don’t see. Even Gauguin was enamored with and painted dark and sensuous Tahitian women.
Shine As You Are
Filipinos can uphold their own to the world. Even if the world’s beauty standards may be different, we must create our own and shine as we are. We must learn to appreciate ourselves and our attributes, increase our all-important self-esteem, and project our own special brand of beauty.

It’s time to feel good being brown and proud. Eventually, we will be beautiful to the world, and most importantly, very beautiful in our eyes.
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For your comments, e-mail DeroSeminar@yahoo.com or text 0920-4053233. Should you forward this article, please acknowledge The Philippine STAR and the author.

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