At only 23 years old, Jessy Mendiola is hailed as FHM’s Sexiest Woman in the Philippines this year. “Now we have proof that everyone can be sexy,” Jessy said in her acceptance speech on July 27. “All types of sexy here, so you are sexy, you are sexy, I am sexy, everyone’s sexy.” Fans cheered as they believe Jessy deserves to be the new Queen, while haters took to social media to bully her for her “oversized legs.” One even commented “The pata queen!” on our Facebook page when we congratulated the Maria Mercedes star on her big night.
The actress' speech is grounded in the fact that the naysayers think she’s not sexy enough or at all. She’s also been body-shamed for the past few months. Last summer when she posted a number of bikini pics on Instagram, some users called her out for being fat and went as far as saying that because she’s fat, she should only wear one-piece swimsuits instead of bikinis.
Let’s be honest: We all have an image or two in our heads of what makes a man and a woman sexy. A guy is steaming hot if he’s got broad shoulders, defined biceps, a six-pack, and the sex cuts. A girl is fine if she’s got breasts, abs, a tiny waist, toned thighs, and a shapely butt. Some of us still think there’s only one way to look sexy, while the rest of us have become more accepting or forgiving—so much so as to be attracted to dad or mom bods, or finding that a person can be sexy in her own combination of traits or assets.
That said, you don’t have to agree with majority of the voters that Jessy Mendiola is FHM’s Sexiest Woman right now. Disagreeing with the decision doesn’t justify body-shaming, though. In fact, nothing does. Not Jessy’s highly contested confidence or arrogance. Not the rumors that she was the third party in Luis Manzano and Angel Locsin’s now-over relationship (she denied it vehemently, btw). And if Luis did cheat on Angel with Jessy, why aren't people mad at him?
Body-shaming is cruel and it gives the wrong idea that all of us have full control over our bodies—we did not choose our genetics, which partly determines our build and metabolic rate.
Many of us have come to realize that sexiness is not all about the looks, or that one’s appearance isn’t of utmost priority. It’s about what a person feels in spite and because of everything. It’s about having a positive attitude and a good heart. It’s about being happy with yourself, with your strengths and weaknesses—but also striving to improve or compensate for your flaws or shortcomings. When someone has that good and healthy self-image, we can say that person is confident.
Why do we find confidence sexy? It’s probably because it inspires us. Being infectious, it motivates us to be positive too.
Jessy seems to fit that bill. She rocked bikinis with her curvy body and did not let her bashers stop her from working it or going to the beach and having a good time. When she was criticized for her body last May, she posted another bikini pic for her haters and captioned it with, “My body may not be perfect but that will not stop me from being confident with myself. We all come in different sizes and shapes but that shouldn’t stop us from being happy with our own bodies...Sabi nga ni Demi Lovato, ‘What’s wrong with being confident?’”
But Jessy’s critics have targeted her confidence as well. Some think she’s not truly confident, while others call her confidence arrogance.
Some people question her confidence because she didn’t entirely own the stage during the victory party. Maybe she could have with more complex choreography or more comfortable heels. But she did have her game face on. She beamed. She firmly delivered a message that’s very close to her heart, without failing to remind us that we all have it in ourselves to be sexy too.
Others wonder why she made her Instagram private if she were truly confident. It’s a good question. But being confident doesn’t mean you’re immune to exhaustion and pain upon being flooded with hate mail every second. Especially when you’ve done what you could to spread body positivity. It’s important for our own emotional health to be away from negativity for a while.
On the other hand, haters say she has a huge ego because during the FHM Sexiest party Jessy quipped “Talo ko pa si Pia Wurtzbach, 'di ba?” They forget that Jessy continued to say “Nakakaloka 'yung ganyan, noh! Sobrang overwhelming.” Who’s to say Jessy is wrong to feel overwhelmed, or that she’s wrong to be amazed that she, not any other person, was voted #1? Have you felt overwhelmed? Have you ever fan-girled so hard you said or did something awkward or foolish? That was Jessy on her awarding night. Perhaps it takes a winner like Pia Wurtzbach to recognize what it’s like to be ecstatic about something big.
When she was asked what she has to say about all the negative comments, Jessy boldly stated “I’m not the only one who’s being bashed. I’m not the only one who’s being hated. But hell, I’m the sexiest woman right now and I’m just really happy.” Final straw for her haters as the country’s sexiest woman seemed unfazed by all their jabs.
Can we infer from her statement and the way she uttered it that she has a bad attitude? Not really. She wasn’t diplomatic to her haters; what’s wrong with that, though? Isn’t it that being happy is the best way to beat them at their own game? Props to Jessy for having the courage to be sassy and frank.
We usually think confidence is only about carrying one’s self well. Nothing about acknowledging one’s assets or thinking that one is pretty, beautiful, or sexy. It’s not bad to say you’re pleased with yourself and to assert yourself on that ground, especially when people are shaming your body. It’s not bad to know how to take a compliment—it’s rather good.
Not all girls play the pakipot game or pretend they’re so clueless about how hot they actually are. Some women are straightforward, and the honesty is refreshing.
You know what else is refreshing? A person who accepts herself and knows she’s worth something, flaws (or “flaws”) and all.
This year the sexiest woman’s body is something we might already have or know people in our lives to have. Jessy doesn’t meet the unrealistic body standards, but she loves her body for what it is. She’s happy because she has the features she likes, and she knows that her body alone doesn’t define her as a person. No one should take that away from her. Anyone who believes celebs should uphold unrealistic standards needs to reevaluate their role in society and to find more people to admire.
The sexiest woman is already telling us with her words and her award that we can be sexy if we work with what we have and if we believe in ourselves. Can’t we swallow that hell yes, we are sexy too? If we can’t then Jessy is miles and miles ahead of us and we’re taking ourselves and the more inclusive time we live in for granted.
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