Miss Top of the World Plus Size 2017 Jodel Mesina

Jodel Mesina: She’s on top of the world
Karla Rule (The Freeman) - February 2, 2018 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Falling for ideologies can be pretty easy especially when a concept works to your advantage. But Cebuana Jodel Mesina isn’t here for that and is set on breaking stereotypes one after the other.

Winning Miss Top of the World Plus Size 2017 November of last year in Singapore has been a game-changer for Jodel.

Despite being comfortable in her own skin, the 35-year-old is not immune to feelings of inadequacy, and knows the effect of careless and hurtful words thrown her way. But Jodel overcame the ignorance and even won herself a crown.

Suddenly, the jeering words from people who judged her by her looks seemed  inconsequentel compared to the long and meaningful year ahead of her as a reigning queen.

Founded by Kristine Lindenblate in 2013  for the “personal development of the candidates and help everybody remember beauty and promote charity within the framework of the beauty pageant,”  the Miss Top of the World franchise has several pageants including Miss Top of the World, Mrs. Top of the World and Miss Top of the World Plus Size.

Jodel bested 15 other candidates from all over the world as she competed in the Plus Size category. Among her court is Singapore’s Priscilla Boh Rui Yee as first runner-up, Viktoria Brovuna from Latvia at second, Phanpapohn Paopan from Thailand coming in at third, and Evgenia Tuleneva of Belarus completing the roster of winners as fourth runner-up.

Special awardees include Myanmar’s Sandy Min Aung who won Top of the World Plus Size-Choice of People 2017 and Surinam’s Illanga Bel who was hailed Top of the World Plus Size-Beauty Queen 2017.

Although Jodel isn’t required to take on any responsibility throughout her reign, the real estate developer is set on creating a safer and more welcoming community for plus size people, and draw attention to just as beautiful plus size women who would wish to join pageants.

During last year’s competition, the candidates were tasked to produce a video about their country and themselves, as well as deliver a speech in front of the judges and the crowd.

Jodel, who joined the pageant after she was approached by the pageant’s national director in the Philippines, Tatta Saguin said during her turn: “Growing up, as a child being bullied by people and called the meanest words like ‘baboy’ which means ‘pig’, and  ‘tambok’ which means ‘fat,’ it hurt for some time and made me feel left out. But I managed to accept the fact later on and ignore them,” Jodel began.

Jodel then proceeded to tell everyone about how frustrated she was after trying all sorts of diet and exercises, none of which worked out for her.

“Until I came to realize that we are all created equal no matter what size, shape, or color anyone would have—which is the reason why I joined this competition. I want to empower, inspire, and help plus size women like me to never stop believing and pursuing their dreams to make them come true. Let nothing hinder us from reaching our goals in life for what everyone [else] can do, we can. I am proud and beautiful the way I am. And I am sincerely telling each and every one of you that my big beautiful body is as big as my beautiful heart, mind, and soul.”

In the beginning, Jodel was terrified at the idea of joining an international pageant having zero experience and no concrete knowledge of the pageant circuit.

“But I saw it as another opportunity for me. It wasn’t really my dream to become a beauty queen, but I’ve thought about the what-ifs of winning a crown,” Jodel shares, adding that her sisters have been fully supportive of her.

“It was a chance to bond with my sisters. I felt loved because they were there to support me. I had the support of family and friends, which gave me the determination to grab the crown,” says Jodel, who has three elder sisters and two brothers.

She recalls how her sisters helped sew her dresses during the pageant, fixed her hair, guided her and even shopped for a new dress on the day of the event.

Jodel has always wanted to become a businesswoman, but she also had a penchant for the limelight. As a child, she would secretly wear her sisters’ heels, pretend to pose for cameras or render performances in front of the mirror.

Not much has changed for Jodel since winning an international crown, but she does admit there are things that need a bit of getting used to: putting on make-up and dressing up for example. Jodel isn’t into high heels, and didn’t really bother with make-up altogether but with pageantry comes maintaining a camera-ready look. Her training with Cebuano make-up guru Jessie Glova a few years back came in handy.

The former Penshoppe Kids model also reveals how she feels the need to be more active on social media since her win.

“I learned a lot during the competition. I learned to never judge. Going into the competition, I was pretty bubbly and gained a lot of new friends among my competitors. I really wanted to win the crown. Even though we didn’t have a cash prize, the crown and the honor itself are enough,” Jodel, who was confident and didn’t feel a sliver of pressure throughout the entire contest, says.

But she acknowledges that other people deserve credit as well. Aside from the support of her family and  Saguin, Jodel also commends Earla Lee and Jessie Glova who perfected her walk, trained her in Q&A, and even helped her prepare for her talent presentation which was the Sinulog dance (Jodel’s way of showing her devotion to the Santo Niño de Cebu).

“The best thing about being Cebuana is that you can be a beach babe

but also a mountain babe too,” Jodel jests before turning serious. “We’re religious and not just Cebuanas. Filipinos are family-oriented and that’s the best in us.”

Jodel wore evening gown and national costume creations by Hanz Coquilla. Her national costume – made of colorful banig and was created in two days – drew praise from the contestants who knew that the material was for sleeping or used in picnics but never thought it could be fashioned into something wearable.

Aside from the personal profile interview and talent competition, Jodel and the candidates took part in a swimwear photo shoot. She prepared by going to the gym, but mostly focused on her walk and question and answer skills.

Despite loving herself the way she is, Jodel encourages people to keep fit and do whatever makes them happy, saying that she does have plans of trimming down since she wants to join another plus size pageant in New York soon.

“I want to build an organization for plus size women in the Philippines. I want to educate people and let them understand that what we go through each day is not easy and is hurtful. It’s not easy being called out ‘Hoy baboy!’, ‘Hoy tambok’ in the streets. I want them to understand and I want to remove stereotypes,” Jodel says.

Discrimination, she shares further, extends in the work place. Thus, she urges everyone to open their hearts, minds and feelings, and see that what they do to people who don’t meet their standards of beauty is wrong.

Jodel is also in talks with the Miss Top of the World Plus Size organizers about the possibility of crowning the next winners in Cebu. She hopes to bond with and tour her Top of the World Plus Size co-candidates around since they plan on visiting Cebu.

Jodel, who feels like she’s on top of the world when she’s surrounded by family and when she’s doing what she loves, is a mother to a nine-year-old little girl who looks up to her with or without a crown on her head.

For anyone who has been bullied for their weight, or for any other reason, Jodel has some words of affirmation: “Never worry. Never stop believing and pursuing. Regardless of size, shape, or color anyone has, you can do it!”



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