Last February 27, right when I was ready to turn it down, Stacy of the former Plump Pinay blog turned PLUMP Magazine convinced me enough to go to their first talk on self-love with guest speakers Katrina Gumabao, Julianne Tarroja, Rona Samson-Tai, and, of course, Danah Gutierrez (Stacy’s twin). The event was hosted by Nikki Veron Cruz, who was very cute and pretty in person, by the way.
The venue, 110 A Space, Legaspi St., Makati, is right across Greenbelt 5’s entrance (with the huge sign of Zara), so it’s pretty easy to find. I thought I’d have to walk long but it’s literally just across the street. Anyway, I’ve never been there before so I was feeling kind of lost and when I found the place, I registered as an early bird (wasn’t expecting this) and was given my name sticker and loot bag. As I was registering, I could hear the twins talking inside and I just couldn’t help getting nervous. I’ll finally get to meet them! Ahhhh.
When I got inside the room, my first thought was, “Wow, this place is so beautiful.” It was insane, the place lived up to my expectations and more because it was really intimate and had an indoor picnic set-up, which exuded a comfortable and casual vibe, just what I needed since I don’t frequent talks like that. Okay, fine, I seldom go out, even. I thought I could also brush up on my self-love, so I went.
I wasn’t disappointed. I enjoyed every minute of it.
(This is a comprehensive blog post. If you feel like you won’t be able to read it in one sitting, feel free to bookmark it and read it later. Otherwise, sit back, relax, and enjoy.)
So anyway, I jotted down a bunch of notes on my Plump notebook just like I was back in college, so I’m going to use that as a guide to share with you how the program went. Before anything else, we had a quick game where we had to find our Girl Gang by acting out the character we pick from the jar. I got Katniss Everdeen. Yass, I love Katniss!
DANAH ON OWNING YOUR BEAUTY: “I AM BEAUTIFUL”
Danah spoke first and shared some tips on how you own your beauty as an individual and as a woman who refuses to, and should not, compare herself to other women. After all, beauty is not a competition. It’s for everyone and anyone.
To start with, Danah asked the crowd what we think “beauty” means. I was quick to answer “confident” because I honestly believe confidence is a huge thing. Meanwhile, Stacy mockingly shouted out, “THIN!”. LOL. It’s an inside joke because it totally contradicts the point of the conference.
According to D’s research, beauty is something pleasing to the eyes, but also pleasing to the intellect. I’d have to agree with this. In short, beauty is pleasing. She shared about this experience during her HS days when she would compliment her friend for being beautiful and that friend was easy to shrug it off. Almost all the time, we have an issue with being beautiful because we lack ownership. Cliché as it may be, you gotta own it, girl.
So what do we do with our beauty? How do we own it, exactly?
- We have to acknowledge it exists. Our bodies are gifts from God and we don’t get to choose the body we’re in. To be practical, when you are given a gift, you don’t choose to receive it or not. You just receive it and give thanks. So why is it hard for us to do the same with our bodies?
- We accept it. When there is acceptance, there is peace, when there is peace in knowing what your body is, you stop comparing yourself to others. By nature, once we accept something, we quit looking at someone else for comparison. And if you don’t know it yet: Comparison is the thief of joy. Think about it, ponder on it, and realize it’s true.
- We say it loud and proud. D said that the more we repeat something, the more it becomes real. What we think we are, we become, it’s as simple as that. So when we keep thinking that we’re beautiful, that nothing is wrong with our bodies and with ourselves, the more it becomes real. But when you say otherwise, it can have the same effect on your self-esteem. Words are powerful, but so are thoughts.
- Do more of what makes you feel good. Some girls like putting on makeup to feel beautiful, some like to go to the gym and find their beauty in strength. It’s not the same for everyone, but we can all have the same amount of love and respect we give ourselves based on what we do. When you love what you are doing, you feel empowered, you feel your value as a person, and you feel beautiful for being the maker of something real.
- Invest in taking care of yourself. How you spend for yourself equates the value you give yourself. I’m not calling thrift shoppers cheap, but you know you can treat yourself once in a while. There is nothing wrong with wearing makeup. A lot of women enjoy putting it on their faces because somehow, it’s also therapeutic as much as it’s fun. Again, your body is a gift and you’d want to take care of it. Part of it is investing in things like facials, waxing, nail care, etc. However, one should always know the borderline. If you’re looking for external help to feel good about yourself then you’ve got a problem. What D means by this is you should feel beautiful whether or not you’re wearing makeup, whether or not you’re in a tight dress, whether or not you’re holding a pretty purse and strutting in heels. Beauty is not all about what people can see on the outside, it’s also who you are on the inside.
So what happens when you’ve done all those 5 steps? What’s next?
- “Beauty” stops being a trend. It means that you are secure enough about yourself that you can’t be budged with endless beauty products that will only make you feel worse about yourself because you’re not this or that or you’re not beautiful enough.
- You start to see the beauty of others. As much as you like yourself, you start to like other people physically. A lot of us are very judgemental when it comes to the physical aspect, but once you realize what beauty really means, you stop looking at the physical body and start to appreciate the person for who she is. By then, you will start giving compliments to others and acknowledge what little effort they put to themselves, whether it’s just fixing their hair or putting some lipstick on.
- You become more secure about yourself. In short, no one can use anything against you. You know yourself well enough to not need the latest whitening product or workout for hours on end to please others. You make it more about you than other people, as it should be.
At the end of the day, ownership is the price you pay to see the beauty in you, nothing else. Not the beauty products, not the compliments you fish out from other people. It’s from you. When it comes to tacky situations like getting bad remarks and negative comments, it’s up to you if you’re going to pick up the trash people throw at you.
For a 2-minute activity, D made us draw something about our body that we hate. The lesson is to accept your body as a whole and not pick out what to like. I drew my upper body, focusing on the torso because I honestly hate how my stomach looks. I hate how my love handles stick out even when I’m wearing the loosest shirt I have and how it just makes my upper body bigger than it should when I try to wear a flimsy top when it should actually hide it.
KATRINA ON PURSUING FITNESS WITH YOUR BODY: “MY BODY IS AN INSTRUMENT, NOT AN ORNAMENT”
Okay, I really, really love how Katrina handled this session. To start with, I’m not a big fan of her and I didn’t know who she is until PLUMP Magazine had her as the cover of their September 2015 issue. I loved her, even more, when I heard her speak. Being a Gumabao, you might think she’s such a princess, but she’s the complete opposite. She’s very knowledgeable, she knows what she’s talking about, and the way she speaks is just so raw and unfiltered. Okay, enough girl crushing, let’s get to her talk.
How do you take care of yourself and incorporate fitness into your body? These are Katrina’s tips:
- Don’t diet. Eat according to your goals. I’ve seen enough girls starve themselves to be the next VS angel, but believe me, that’s a slow but sure suicide more than being sexy. It’s not cute. “You need to replenish your body with nutrients when you workout,” as per Katrina. This is very true, though. You can’t burn what you don’t have. When you don’t eat right and you don’t have the good fats you need to train well, your body has no choice but to get the energy from your muscles. When it does, you feel weak. Case in point: eat smart not less. You have to stop restricting yourself because the more you crave, the more you will eat. If you want something now, allow yourself to take a small bite and you’re good. Most of us just need a taste of what we crave for, and sometimes, it’s enough.
- Believe in yourself when no one else does. Guys and girls, this is so true. I grew up with people around me calling me hideous things and one day, I just told myself that enough is enough. The more you prosper, the more people will try to bring you down. Remember that. At the end of the day, you do you. You don’t let others’ words get to you. Nothing is more toxic than believing lies. As the twins said, don’t let lies become your truth. You know better than that. If you know yourself well enough, nothing can and will get to you. Take it from someone who’s struggled with self-confidence issues and still is to this day.
- Cut yourself some slack. Seriously, it’s okay to not be in the mood all the time. Even the most dedicated people get their downtime. People don’t expect you to have your engine running all the time. It’s okay to take breaks once in a while. I remember when I stopped going to the gym for a week and I came back only stronger. I literally lifted heavier than the previous week. Magic can happen when you let your body rest. Technically, your muscles grow when you sleep, your body heals when you rest. That’s why recovery is important. No one goes to the gym every single day, seven times a week, all throughout the year. Believe me.
- Stick to your goals. Goal setting is so important. It helps you track your progress and you get to celebrate milestones when you check one thing off the list. I love the part where Katrina said that fitness is not a race, it’s a lifestyle. It’s not a competition or about who burns the most calories fastest. Our bodies are built differently so what works for one person might not work for us, and vice versa. Also, you workout because you need to, not because you want to have that beach body for Boracay or Palawan this summer. Again, fitness is a lifestyle. When you’re only working out for special occasions, then your fitness is but seasonal. You only care about your body when you want to flaunt it and not because you care about it for next week’s 6-day commute to and from work or something else totally mediocre but something that you’ll need endurance or strength for anyway. Get rid of this mindset.
- Draw the strength from the little things. Celebrate your little achievements. Did you finally beat your PR? Went to the gym wearing shorts instead of your usual jogging pants AND rocked your workout? Or you simply ditched the gym to run in the park, something that you always dread doing? Whatever it is, find joy in the little things. Don’t dump down your own happiness by saying, “I did only this or just that”. Small progress is still progress.
I’m not saying I’m not enough. All I’m saying is I know I can be more.
Quick plug, if you haven’t read it yet, maybe you also want to check out my blog post on Fitness for Beginners. I talk about my 5 cardinal rules there and the basic exercises you need to be fit.
RONA ON DEALING WITH NEGATIVITY: “AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR HATE”
Okay, somebody tell me why I didn’t take a photo of Rona when I could have!!! She’s the most badass but sweetest woman I’ve met and I love her (and her husband) to bits. She’s just oozing with confidence and sex appeal. I cannot!
She introduced herself by introducing her husband because who doesn’t know (and have a crush on) Eric Tai a.k.a Eruption?! The day I took a picture with him seems just like yesterday. I can still recall the gentleness of his eyes and how kind he was to submit to my request, and he was just so handsome and beautiful at the same time, and..
Okay, snap out of it, Bae. Sorry, I can’t help it. I just love big men. Literally. Like, muscles everywhere.
Rona’s talk was pretty short but meaningful. The point is to not allow yourself to make time for the haters because it only goes to show that you’re doing something right. There’s something good about what you do, that you do it so well, you’re getting haters. That’s it.
Her words to live by?
- Don’t fight fire with fire. You’re only defeating the purpose of self-love when you do this. You can’t say you love your body and shame someone else for not having the same belief. Example, stop pointing out people’s flaw when they try to insult you because it’s just like eating your own words. You can’t promote self-love when you keep on hating others. That’s pretty pathetic and ironic.
- When you have 10 haters, it means you’re doing something right.
- When the lights dim, you don’t talk to strangers, bashers, and haters. You talk to your head.
After she gave her talk, Rona made us do a group discussion on when body-shaming started for us. Like when was the first time we felt bad about ourselves and looked down on our flawed bodies because other people started doing it, too, and shamelessly.
In my table, I was seated with Joyce, Gale, and Mia.
My memory might fail me so I might not be able to share the nitty gritty details, but from what I remember, Joyce said that body-shaming started for her when she gained weight and started having problems losing weight. Gale, her sister, said it never really happened to her because she’s confident about her body and she often answers back when someone tries to put her down because of her weight. That’s a bit feisty if you ask me. And you can see her confidence just by how she looks; she was wearing a glittery, sleeveless onesie that day and she ain’t making any effort to cover her arms even though they jiggly cos she’s ain’t got time for haters.
Meanwhile, Mia is starting to believe men only look at her because of her healthy bosom. Sure, it’s an attention magnet, but do you really want to stare at a woman’s chest instead of her eyes when talking to her? Mia tries to fix this insecurity by growing her hair long and wearing scarves that land on her chest. It’s pretty clever, but what about the times that you just don’t want to give a damn about what others think of how you look? It’s such a struggle when you’re big chested and you pattern your clothes after your body, not wear whatever you want because you have nothing to hide so society won’t judge you or make you a victim of malicious acts and lustful stares. I can relate because I’m also big chested and sometimes it just sucks having to buy clothes that do not reveal much, just so I can look presentable and respectable.
On the other hand, body-shaming started for me when I wasn’t even in HS yet and my supposed best friend would mock me about my weight and call me the queen of pigs, like, how tacky is that? It’s still not easy living with people who don’t believe in fitness and cannot understand that progress takes time. Sometimes, I don’t know anymore what people want from me, but seeing that’s the case, I just try to do what’s best for me. If I let their insults get to me, at the end of the day, I lose.
STACY ON CONQUERING NEGATIVE SELF-TALK: “I GO WHERE MY MIND GOES”
Let’s give a moment of silence for Stacy’s cute outfit.
Okay, now that it’s settled, Stacy’s talk focuses on how to NOT hate yourself and rid of the mentality that we should be more of this and that because society tells us to. If you don’t know yet, the twins are big advocates of self-love (well obviously) and discourage girls from submitting themselves to what society dictates as “beautiful”, so don’t expect them to advertise whitening or slimming products. They keep it ~real~.
- Humility should not compromise your self-confidence. My take on this: Women love humbling themselves. They secretly love when people praise them for being beautiful, but shrug it off as easily because they somehow feel the need to. But if you don’t know yet, beauty is not a competition. Can’t it be that we are all equally beautiful in our own ways? Simply put, it’s easy to shrug off compliments because we don’t believe them. When another woman tells us, “You’re pretty!”, we easily respond with, “No, you’re prettier!” It shouldn’t be that way. Why is it so hard to say, “If you see me that way, I appreciate it. Thank you”? And also, rejecting compliments is actually a bit crude. Just say thank you and move on. It’s that easy and practical.
- Fake it ’til you feel it. Sometimes we need a little prompting from ourselves to actually feel beautiful. If you feel the need to say it, then by all means, do. As Stacy’s mantra is for her session, “I go where my mind goes.” Nothing is more convincing than your own thoughts. And clearly, there is no harm in thinking you’re beautiful so you can actually become it.
- The way you think about yourself determines your reality. Your appearance is the outcome of your thoughts. If you feel ugly, you will look ugly. If you feel fabulous, you will look fabulous. It’s up to you how you want your reality to be.
- Our issues today are not innate. They were actually programmed to us. By who? Easy, society. We were not born thinking we’re ugly or hideous or unworthy. We feel ugly being naturally morena because someone else has a fairer skin, and it was turned to be a never ending issue because one day, society just decided it’s cooler to have a whiter complexion. That’s basically it. So whatever issues you have right now, don’t worry so much about it. Someday, it’s going to be irrelevant. And I assure you, it actually might make sense never. So what if you have flaws? Is there even anyone out there who’s perfect? And right now, you and I know there are bigger issues to tackle than a zit on your face or those last 5 pounds you can’t seem to lose, so chill. You might be letting society pressure you too much. Don’t.
To cap off, she encouraged us to make a positive mantra:
I know myself better than others. I know myself better than strangers. I am a work in progress. My work is not yet done.
She also left us an activity to do for a few minutes and by ourselves. She made us write all the good things we like about ourselves under one minute and list as much as we can, as with the things we don’t like about ourselves.
Here’s my list:
What do you like about yourself?
- I like helping other people
- I try to be kind (to others) as much as I can
- I love God
- I try to be mindful of my ways
- I’m a good writer
- I am creative
What do you dislike about yourself?
- I can get cranky and have intense mood swings
- I am picky with certain things
- I am not positive all the time
- Negative feedbacks get to me almost most of the time
After, she made us write when and how negative talk started for us. For me, it was when I was in high school and my supposed best friend would pick on me and call me “queen of pigs”. In college, my seatmates would tease me about not fitting in arm chairs. Lol, gross, right.
JULIANNE ON FINDING YOUR TRUE IDENTITY AND EMBRACING IT: “I KNOW WHO I AM AND THAT’S ALL THAT MATTERS!”
This should be the most tear-jerker talk I’ve ever been to. I didn’t really cry but a lot of women in there did. The entire time, Julianne did her best to stop her voice from shaking because I swear she was on the verge of tears right when she started talking. Most of the women agreed that this was their favorite session. Read on and you’ll know why.
I’m not sure if I can upload the videos I took here, but she started off with a song and it was just beautiful, heartwarming, and comforting. She has a super nice voice and I’m actually ashamed I didn’t know her before this conference. But to be honest, I was hooked on Tulak Ng Bibig a few days before that event, so that’s why she looked familiar. Well, of course.
Basically, she shared her story and how she became who and where she is now. She also shared this vision she had while contemplating on her life in the City of Pines. Through this vision, she regained her faith in God and even wrote a song inspired by it.
When we don’t own our flaws and insecurities, we can’t own our beauty.
Being a preacher’s daughter, it became a frustration for her to be perfect and never have room for mistakes and errors in her life. She was forced to think that she couldn’t commit any mistake and she couldn’t be herself, either, because it might ruin her family’s reputation so she had what to be what society expected from her. That’s tough, to be honest.
She thought that she could find unconditional love from guys so she looked for herself in every relationship she had but to no avail. All that time, all those love were but conditional. It’s because she only needed one guy in her life – God.
Her vision went like this (I didn’t write down much while she was speaking and my memory might fail me so this might not be very accurate):
She was in the middle of a road, alone, lost, with her house beside her crumbling down to her right and walls of bricks to her left. Everything was closing in on her, then she saw this soldier-like figure coming to her. The soldier told her something that goes something like, “I broke down so many walls to get to you. Take my hand, come with me. There is no place for you here anymore. Let go of your bricks. You can’t hold on to them. You can’t put them back again.” That soldier was God.
So I guess that’s her testimony on finding God again and welcoming Him in her life.
Being a successful singer and songwriter, you’d think her life is perfect, but it’s actually far from it. She has her own insecurities and flaws, just like every normal person does on this planet. At the end of the day, she has only one message,
You are precious. You are loved. Your story matters.
If not for this vision, she wouldn’t have had a story to tell. There would be one less speaker in the conference. I wouldn’t be writing this part about her. I wouldn’t be spreading her message of love, hope, and faith.
To make up for it, I’ll strive to upload that video of her singing. I think everybody deserves to hear her voice and her message. It’s very beautiful.
What I love about this talk is it speaks a lot about our issues with our bodies; issues that we can’t tell anyone else but ourselves, and at the same time it’s centered on loving who we are and what we’re given by Our Creator. It’s about acknowledging this gift that we didn’t ask for but were given freely.
If you have reached this far, give yourself a pat on the back and a kiss on the cheek. I know that it’s hard to deal with these issues while having no one to share them with or if you do, they don’t acknowledge them or even show the slightest tinge of support. When your insecurities get the best of you, know that they are not unique and people around you may not be speaking up, but there are more people than you realize battling the very same thing. If all other first-aid help fails, know that I am just here and my inbox is open for your concerns, whatever they may be.
I understand your pain and frustration on this and who am I to refuse a helping hand? It may sound cliché, but I’m just here. Don’t hesitate to hit me up on any of my social media accounts. If it’s any consolation, and I know it will be, feel free to read some articles on Plump Magazine and help yourself with the beautiful words those amazing contributors leave their readers and what the founders themselves write. I promise you that you won’t leave that website without a smile on your face and heart.
You reading this means a lot to me. I hope that I made sense with this blog post and somehow enlightened you on why you don’t need validation from others to know that you are beautiful – you simply need to acknowledge it, own it, and live it. All day, every day.
Again, thank you for reading and may you love yourself more each day,
Facebook: PLUMP Magazine
Follow the ladies on Instagram!
Danah Gutierrez: @thedanahsoars
Katrina Gumabao: @katarinuh
Rona Samson-Tai: @rownita
Stacy Guiterrez: @anastazcia
Julianne Tarroja: @juliannetarroja
Nikki Veron Cruz: @nikcolate