These days, it’s hard for many women to keep comfortable and confident. And it’s not just because of the loneliness and feelings of isolation that the enhanced community quarantine may trigger. Even before the pandemic, many Pinays feel uncomfortable sharing their personal experiences and thoughts on matters of beauty, body positivity, success, mental health, relationships, and feminine hygiene.
This is why it’s refreshing to see that some Pinays are now more willing to open up about their experiences, especially as having these discussions is as important now as ever. Below, six Pinays get real about how they tackled their personal struggles.
Growing up morena, Cha reveals that she's had her share of mean comments. “My schoolmates often teased me. They said I wouldn’t be able to join any beauty pageants and that no one will ever appreciate me because of the color of my skin. They even made negative remarks about my eyes. They called me singkit, nognog, intsik, and sunog.”
That said, her perspective on beauty changed as she grew older. “I realized that I don't need their negativity. I can be beautiful in my own way. I learned to appreciate the lovely things that make me ME. Now, I can say that I'm a proud morena and I know that being beautiful means being yourself.”
Her piece of advice for girls who are going through the same thing? “You don't need to please others. You need to accept and love yourself. That would bring out the beauty in you.”
“My body has gone through a lot since I became incredibly conscious about how I look,” Ana points out. After receiving unfavorable comments about her weight, she admits having gone on extreme diets that were completely unhealthy.
The wakeup call came when she saw her mother quietly clearing up the dining table. “I thought about how she and my dad took hours to prepare and cook our meals. It was that horrible feeling of guilt that got me out of the madness."
“Little by little, I fought the urge to measure my weight every time I would pass by a scale, until my weight was the furthest thing from my mind. Instead, it gave me the headspace to think about my career, relationships, personal projects, and everything else happening around me."
Things got easier for Ana once she learned to accept things for what they are. “I have accepted that as we grow older, our metabolism slows down compared to how it was when we were in our teens. Right now, I'm able to enjoy healthy cooking and great food, knowing that the people I love also love me, whether it’s abs or belly rolls on my tummy. I've never felt lighter.”
As someone who works in the media industry, talks of gender inequality in the workplace isn't foreign to Patricia. She believes that harmful stereotypes about women do not only influence hiring or promotion, but also affects how we view leadership.
On a positive note, she observes that we’re seeing positive change in how we navigate our roles in the workplace. “The definition of an effective boss is changing. It's moving away from that very masculine, assertive, command-and-control style, and into new territory—into thoughtfulness and compassion, the very same traits that got plenty of women flak for having.”
Patricia adds that she's glad to see more women taking on leadership roles. “It's amazing to see the growing importance of empathy in the workplace, of understanding and communication in making work faster and easier. Plenty of women are finding their places in management—and I've had the great luck of being surrounded by them!”
Debbie had just arrived from a trip to Japan when news about COVID-19 started making the rounds. As prescribed for her and everyone else’s safety, she had to isolate herself for 14 days after her arrival.
“The main struggle for me during the quarantine was dealing with the uncertainty of my situation. I constantly worried that I wasn’t careful enough during my trip and that maybe I had contracted the virus. I paid attention to the littlest changes in my body that would indicate that I was sick, whether it was a slight itch in my throat or a minor body ache. I fed my paranoia day after day.”
Debbie shares that it was her connection with her friends that got her through the feeling of isolation. “My friends and I would go on video calls every day. We talked about anything we could think of, played silly online games, took candid photos, and laughed at our own stories.”
Today, as she observes another period of quarantine with the rest of us following the enhanced community quarantine measures, she says, “We see all kinds of advice on social media on how to cope with social distancing. People feel pressured to be productive, to get a new hobby, to learn a new skill, or to finish a book. But maintaining your mental health during ECQ isn’t all about being productive. It requires different ways of coping for different people. In the end, I think that what’s more important is that we stay connected and keep in touch, check up on others and make them feel that despite physical isolation, they’re not truly alone.”
Like most women, Charisse admits to having received her share of unwelcome comments about her personal relationships. These remarks shaped her views about relationships, marriages, and even having children.
“There’s more to being a woman than being a girlfriend, a wife, or a mother. These are not obligations we need to be responsible for just to please others. These aren’t competitions we have to feel pressured to win or achieve. Instead, these are physical, emotional, mental, and financial life choices."
She believes that it’s important for women to rethink the idea of entering relationships, especially if the pressure of being in one is making us unhappy or uncomfortable. “If you’re looking for a romantic partner, choose someone who will understand and support your choices even if it means challenging his or her own.”
Trixia has gone through the experience of being shamed for keeping sanitary products even before she had her first period. “I remember older relatives teasing me about having a pack of sanitary napkins ready in my room. They would make fun of it, asking me why I had ‘a sandwich bag’ in my school kit.”
“I thought it was good to be prepared and I never thought that it was wrong or shameful to have sanitary napkins with me. It made as much sense to have a pack in my kit, as much as it did to have extra undies and toilet paper in there.”
“I wish the people around us weren’t so mocking about periods,” Trixia adds. She does have a point: Imagine the conversations we can have on healthcare and reproductive health if only we got over the stigma surrounding our menstrual flow.
As these Pinays prove, talking about these topics openly will help fight the stigma surrounding the issues and empower many women who don’t feel comfortable about sharing their personal stories.
It’s now your turn to add to the conversation. Share your thoughts on these topics and stand up for Pinays everywhere by joining the #MyPointOfV campaign, which will kick off on April 27.
Head to this site and fill out the online registration form. Pick one from the topics of beauty, body positivity, success, relationships, and hygiene; and write an original opinion piece on your chosen topic. Submit your entry along with your photo and get the chance to win P5,000 worth of Johnson & Johnson consumer products. Winners will also be featured in a Cosmo.ph video!
Per DTI Fair Trade Permit No. FTEB 05881 series of 2020