In the Philippines, the beauty industry remains somewhat conventional—perpetuating stereotypes and promoting biased ideals that can negatively impact Filipina women's self-esteem and shape how they perceive beauty. Although media and the beauty industry reinforce these ideal beauty standards, it is deeply ingrained in Filipino culture and how children are raised.
Name-calling is an experience girls are too familiar with. Filipinos are used to getting to know people through their nicknames. At a glance, these nicknames can be seen as a form of endearment or playful banter. Still, it can have a lasting and negative impact on children as they internalize these messages and carry them as insecurities. Nicknames begin at home, the first form of community a person can recognize, making it hard for many girls to grow beyond the playful nickname they have been labeled.
Coming from these perpetuated stereotypes and pressures resulting in lower self-esteem for young girls, Dove aims to make a positive experience of beauty universally accessible to all women. And alongside Dove, these ladies bared their experiences fighting these stereotypes and their rallying call to #StopTheNameCalling. We talked to them about relearning their lost confidence, what they're doing to break this unhealthy cycle, and what others can do to foster an accepting and aware community.
The ugly side
Rona Tai remembered the first time she was name-called in high school. "I was built bigger than most in height and size. It was mostly the boys that would call me names," Rona shared. She said she felt more irritation than hurt from experience. She let the name-calling slide the first time but confronted her bullies afterward, asking them to see it from her perspective; how their words can impact someone's self-esteem.
Nish Dyosa's experience with name-calling began with family members, particularly her aunts and uncles. "When I was little, I got shy being called "kulot" because I knew they were only teasing me. But when I was a teenager, it made me uncomfortable, and medyo nakakainis na rin." Nish thought if her hair was straight, would it be another teasing entirely? I felt negative to be called "kulot," because if my hair were straight, they wouldn't call me "unat" naman, right?
Nish never let them know she was bothered by their teasing, even to her mother, as she thought they would call her too sensitive.
Charlotte Ferrer's experience with name-calling started to bother her when she realized she had looked at herself differently. "I thought something was wrong with me, and when I would just feel sad after trying to laugh it off."
Similarly, Mia Franz-Gelicka found it painful to bear with the name-calling as she grew up. "I never realized how it shaped my outlook until I grew out of it." She added that she has been holding back on many things because of the insults and names thrown at her when she was younger. "I lived a huge part of my life thinking I wasn't beautiful and unlovable because I was fat."
When she and her brother were kids, Chantal Calicdan shared that adults would be skeptical about how she was related to her brother. "He's half-Australian and half-Filipino. He was a mestizo. I was called "maitim" by the adults with the other kids."
As a morena, Lara Andres shared she received backhanded comments from relatives. “I am called black beauty, maitim lang pero maganda.” She was also called "payatot" because of her slim frame. "When I got older, I got conscious at family gatherings. I found myself not socializing with the adults."
Lara learned to grow from her experience by loving the features she has. She would answer her relatives, “Morena naman po talaga ako, tita, never po ako nagpaputi.” But, Lara added she does not hide from the conversation about name-calling. "I try to have a proper conversation with them. But, I'm not apologetic about it or trying to change for their kind of beauty standard."
Even her daughter has received unwanted comments about her appearance, but Lara is headstrong and promised not to instill insecurities by entertaining others' comments. Instead, she believes that conversations surrounding these issues should be open and educating to families.
"We come from different generations, and we cannot immediately assume that everyone has the same values and principles as us. So if you feel resistance and it becomes repetitive even if you expressed your feelings about it, time to distance yourself," she advised.
Although name-calling starts at home as a bond, Nish also believes that you should open the table to talk about it if you feel hurt or bullied by these names. While Claudette reclaims herself by accepting that you cannot control what people say or act, changing how people perceive someone is not always possible. "I developed tough skin that kept me from getting upset or disturbed by their criticisms, making me feel more comfortable, content, and confident with myself."
Lara expressed that home should be a safe space where kids can explore themselves without feeling fear or judgment. "Showing dominance using words is also a form of abuse. Instead, we should consider how one word can impact a kid's life."
Likewise, Mia agreed that families should also be aware of the language they use around children and how they communicate and describe them.
"Family should be your number one support system because they are the ones you're with as you grow up. They are the first people we make connections with, and these connections need to be secure and positive because it greatly affects the outlook and mindset of the child as they grow up."
Mia mentioned that she has owned up to her healing. "When I started to be at peace with my body, I could overcome it." She said this self-awareness taught her more appreciation and peace about herself, adding that it unhands other people from using it against her. "I worked on creating a healthier body image and a good relationship with my body so that I have a good level of self-awareness. This peace also made me love my body and who I am in general."
The confidence kit
As they shared their respective experiences with Dove, these ladies called for more responsibility and conversation around name-calling.
"Name-calling has consequences to the mental health of others, and we don't know their struggles and how they will take it. Putting a stop to name-calling may save lives," Lara hopefully said.
Other ladies mentioned that name-calling only feeds insecurities, and this is something everyone should protect young people from, especially as they build their formative years towards adulthood. "If we don't stop now, when will we ever?" Claudette asked.
These women hope that this could be a spark to a movement for positive beauty. Dove has always believed in the power of positive beauty and that it is at the forefront of the #StopTheNameCalling movement. So, Dove put together a learning material called the Confidence Kit.
"Unilever is committed to promoting beauty, self-love, and empowerment through our brands and campaigns. With this new campaign from Dove, we want to challenge limiting definitions of beauty standards and educate people on the impact name-calling has on children. We ask everyone to #StopTheNameCalling and allow children to be their most confident selves," said Dorothy Dee-Ching, Unilever Philippines' Beauty & Personal Care Vice-President.
For more resources to help parents and their children, the Dove Self Esteem Project has crafted the Confidence Kit, a tool written by containing educational resources and tips on how to help families tackle name-calling, bullying, navigating social media and digital distortion, and understanding why unrealistic beauty standards can be detrimental.
Here's a film by Dove Philippines, as a call to #StopTheNameCalling.
To learn more about the #StopTheNameCalling movement and Dove's Confidence Kit, visit this link.