I am in my mid 30s. At this age, I have gone through quite a lot already and have come to embrace myself for what I am and what I’m not. So when someone comes to me and tells me straight to my face:
Ay ikaw na gali ni? Ay o, nag-gwapa ka man no?
(Oh, it’s you. I’m surprised you look pretty/beautiful now).
Instead of feeling bad or awkward about, I try to be the kindest and understanding of where that person is coming from. He/she might just be having a bad day or, worse, a bad life to have the courage to be that blunt. Physical beauty is no longer an issue for me. I don’t give a damn anymore how you perceive me, how you look at me, or how you choose to understand me. I’ll go on with my calm, quiet, and happy life.
So why am I writing this if this is already a non-issue? I’m writing this because I have something to say to someone out there who feels so crushed or at her lowest because someone makes her feel inferior or not enough simply because she doesn’t fit to that person’s perception of beauty. My dear, this is for you.
When I was growing up I was neither the prettiest nor the cutest. I was mocked for being a native (my dad is a member of the Tboli tribe and people used to call them native), for being short, and for having dark skin and flat nose. It was like I was of a different species and simply didn’t fit the mold. I couldn’t remember anyone telling me I was beautiful. I never felt I was and I never tried hard to be one to get their approval. I brushed it off and pretended it didn’t affect me at all. Deep down inside, I was seriously bruised.
I thank my grade school teachers for believing so much in my talent in performing and creative arts, they helped a lot in boosting my self-confidence and self-esteem. I excelled in academics and that was pretty enough. So I grew up believing, Di gani gwapa, pero talented naman! (Alright, I’m not a beauty but I know I’ve got a number of natural skills to boast!)
Two years ago, when my grandmother was still alive, we were having a fun conversation at home when out of the blue my uncle asked him who she thought was the most beautiful among her grandchildren. She was sitting at the dining table while I was by the sink washing dishes. Grandma pointed at me and said I was the most beautiful. I laughed and told her she must be kidding, and perhaps she only said that because she was just being careful not to hurt my feelings. She said she was telling the truth. I smiled and thought to myself, perhaps it’s more of my heart that grandma saw all along.
In this world we can’t stop people from being rude, brutally frank, tactless, and plainly being their vicious selves. We could not also expect them to tell us only the sweetest things that we wanted to hear. Life is a yin and a yang, there’s a positive and a negative side. We are susceptible to different kinds of attacks, and it’s up to us if we would choose those bad or traumatic experiences bring out the worst or the best in us. So when someone tells us we look ugly, do we allow that to ruin us? Or do we shrug it off and go on with our lives, stay true to what makes us genuinely happy, continue with our pursuit to self-improvement and acceptance, and let the beauty within shine the brightest?
At this very moment, if ever you’re wondering if you’re beautiful enough, let me tell you this: You are beautiful. Never ever allow anyone to tell you otherwise.❤️