Sunday, March 27, 2011

[Bikini] Postcards from the Philippines

It doesn't really take a migratory bird to act on this all-important impulse to take advantage of the summer heat. With about 7,100 islands to explore and with our God-given bronze beauties, it is NOT right for us to remain exposed to the artificial light and stressors in the workplace. Follow where the summer breeze leads us and spread the ♫♪ summer lovin' ♪♫!

Ooops, I forgot. There's this unavoidable display of skinny celebrities in bikini along EDSA and continued circulation of magazines with cover girls in nothing but skimpy outfits and smirk by now. Recently, I unearthed this Blair Bitch postcard that reads NO FAT PEOPLE ALLOWED! What else could dampen the spirit and the urge to don a bikini, right?

That Blair Bitch postcard.

Cheer up, girl. As Danah put it, everybody is a bikini body, because no one should dictate which ones are allowed to wear one and which ones are not.

In response to the abovementioned postcard, here's a slideshow of my favorite beach moments in swimwear, kaftan...and whatever my self-esteem and/or budget allowed me to wear that time. I'm glad this journey to body acceptance is documented with our local shores in the background

Postcard from White Beach, Puerto Galera, 2005.

Tankini top and matching shorts from SM Department Store.

Postcard from Olango Island, Cebu, 2005. With Fristine.

Postcard from Splash Island, Laguna, 2005.

Haltered top from Landmark Department Store, purple sarong from Edzelove.

Postcard from Sagada, 2005.

Tankini top from SPF.

Postcard from Coco Beach, Puerto Galera, 2006.

Haltered tankini top from Speedo, off-shoulder top as cover-up from ukay ukay shop.

Postcard from Talipanan, Puerto Galera, 2006.

Striped tube top from Blued.

Postcard from White Beach, Puerto Galera, 2006.

Postcard from Mansud Wall, Davao, 2006.

Postcard from Pagsanjan, Laguna, 2007.

Postcard from Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, 2008.

Red tube top from Dorothy Perkins to conceal my two-piece bikini.

Postcard from Pamilacan Island, Bohol, 2008

Tankini top and bikini from Wet Shop.

Postcard from Anawangin, Zambales, 2009. With my traveling doll, Raya.

White kaftan from Coco CabaƱa. Underneath: the same tankini and bikini worn in Bohol.

Postcard from White Island, Camiguin, 2009.

Haltered tankini from Speedo and light blue kaftan.

Postcard from Cagayan de Oro, 2009. [Getting ready to go whitewater rafting with friends]

Haltered tankini from Speedo, swimming skirt and floral kaftan from my friend's tiangge store in St. Francis Square.

Postcard from Zambales, 2010.

Tie-dyed tank top and printed bikini [not seen much in this photo].

Postcard from Vigan, 2010.

That overused polka dotted tankini top and bikini from Wet Shop.

Postcard from Boracay, 2010.

One-piece swimwear from Speedo.

Postcard from Sabtang Island, Batanes, 2011.

Recycling that swimwear worn in Boracay.

Postcard from Sabtang Island, Batanes, 2011.

Kaftan from H&M.

Yeah, yeah, I need a sponsor for my swimwear. =P

Body acceptance is one helluva journey. Up to now, I fall victim to those moments. I still sometimes feel too unpretty and too huge to get half-naked in the beach. Worse, I even feel unprepared for whatever other beach bums would say about my body and the excess balls that go with it.

But then again, why worry over what strangers would think? Sure, we have family and bosses and other people to please, but should we really bring such thinking in our escapes? The beach is our runway, too. This summer, let's shed those inhibitions and leave them behind before boarding the bus or the plane. Summer lovin' starts from within!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Girls Want It Looong!

Girls want it looong, thick and fly away [whatever's the proper English word for tikwas, let me know]. Everything that my natural eyelashes are NOT. Sure, there are recent inventions like eyelash curler and mascara but I'm just too lazy to use such in a daily basis. Besides, I tend to forget that I have eye make-up on. My hands are slave to this frequent compulsion to rub my eyes...until I recognize the eyeliner stains in my fingers. I dream of having attractive peepers yet I don't like taking extra amount of care to attain it. If they were considered windows of one's soul, then I need louder prints for my curtains. With least amount of effort, please.

I found it serendipitous to hear about this deal a few weeks before the much-anticipated traipse in the picturesque islands of Batanes. With its renowned rolling hills, lighthouses, pristine beaches and stone houses, you can't blame me if I want to be immortalized in photos with enhanced eyelashes. I would like to look prettier.

Before having my eyelashes extended

After my Friday night shift, I breathlessly waited for the salon to open at 11:00. By the time one of their specialists can finally accommodate me at 14:30, I have come to realize how punishing the past work week had been. I signed up for a soothing whole body massage. After all, I doubt I'd be able to smile through my eyes if the rest of my body were a portrait of neglect.

The procedure begins!

The specialist began with the removal of the eyeliner marks surrounding my eyes. Then she used some sort of stickers to separate my lower from the upper lashes...with GREAT difficulty. According to her, it was a rarity to work on tiny eyes like mine. After umpteen attempts, I felt her apply the fake eyelashes and say, "Pwede na kayong matulog, Ma'am". I took heed and hurried to the invitingly open doors to dreamland.

It was a pleasant treat to wake up to the reflection of my natural-looking eyelashes in the mirror. They were long, thick and fly-away without looking like a drag queen's. While I repeatedly inspected my new look in all angles out of satisfaction, the specialist advised me to avoid washing my eyes for the next 24 hours. Also, I must sleep on my back to prevent messing up my new lashes. She offered touch-ups if the need arises for only P200. I was nodding happily while she delivered this spiel. As if I can really monitor my sleeping positions while in deep slumber and as if I can stand taking the pollutants in bed with me. She can't be serious. Right?

After the eyelash extension. Wee!

All photos from Joey.

Imagine my horror when she rudely interrupted my sweet nap while waiting for my turn to get massaged. She found me almost in fetal position and immediately checked if my lashes were damaged. Ok, she was serious. Damn.

Unfortunately, my own bed doesn't resemble a massage bed where I can conveniently place my head in a hole to protect my lashes. Neither I have a Master who will put my all fours in handcuffs and/or wake me up with slaps if I unconsciously disobey the instructed sleeping position. Worst, I sleep like a kiti kiti.

Needless to say, I found uprooted eyelashes in my cheek the morning after. I even felt some of them dangle and cling on my eyelids for dear life against the wind. They didn't make it long enough to experience the pulchritude of Batanes. Ack, too bad.

This is NOT to say that the salon failed to keep their promise. I'm not calling out for other clients to provide their testimonials either. I'd rather blame it on my inability to sleep still. At least, I didn't have to shell out P800 for this kikay adventure and resulting reminder to love my eyelashes for what it is.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Real-Life Goddess - Sherry Sagun-De Castro

Exhibit A: Hanging out in Cafe saGuijo with my traveling doll Djin Djin

Exhibit B: time for chocolatey fun!

Exhibit C: Camwhoring reunion.

It's pretty apparent that our similarities end in our full figures, long, dark curls, tongue piercings and penchant for chunky accessories but, for some reason, most people mistake us as identical twins. Whenever we get into that situation, I would be quick to clarify we're not related to each other. I'd make fun of her male-sounding big voice and exaggerate my high-pitch laughter and explain we're on the opposing end of the 20-age bracket for emphasis. And most importantly, I prefer typical porn while she adores yaoi.

While her eyes reduce into tiny slits out of happiness when she gets hold of yaoi, I go wide-eyed.

It is amazing how one's confidence can get contagious and inspiring. As the obvious big sister between us, I take pride that I always learn a thing or two from my unofficial twin. I think it's high time we engage in another gabfest after a few years of separation that followed my resignation. I want you all to meet my dear friend Sherry Sagun-DeCastro.

Lornadahl: How's motherhood? I heard you lost extra pounds already after giving birth. Breast feeding ba ang secret behind it?
Sherry: Motherhood is the best and at the same time the most tiresome role for a woman. I lost 20 pounds a few weeks after giving birth, they say breast feeding really does help, but I think it's also because you start losing all those extra water and fat you gained during pregnancy. But I'm gaining weight again, I can't say no to good food.

Sherry loves it spicy! No surprise she went for yuk-ge-jang noodle soup during our Korean breakfast.

Sherry in New Bombay. And what's left of her eggplant barta.

The tamagochi gets fed!

Lornadahl: Where can I get those hips?!
Sherry: I've had it ever since I can remember. Hahaha!

Lornadahl: How would you describe your personal fashion style?
Sherry: Random. It depends on my mood.

Lornadahl: I know you're into off-shoulder tops, pedal pushers, and occasionally, knee-high boots. Tell us what you'd wear on a casual day and what you'd wear on a party.
Sherry: On a casual day? T-shirt, skinny jeans (not that I'm skinny, you know what I mean) and sandals. For parties, it would either be a dress with pumps or an off-shoulder top, skinny jeans again and heels.

Sherry in her all-white garb for a beach wedding in Pagudpud.

Looking fab in a party. [Yeah, she spells her own name that way.]

Lornadahl: Which celebrities serve as your style icons?
Sherry: None really.

Lornadahl: Did you stop thinking that much about fashion after childbirth?
Sherry: The first 3 months after childbirth, I did. I was more into taking care of my baby and being comfortable. It's all because of those many sleepless nights, you won't really have any time to worry about how you look.

Lornadahl: What's the best fashion accessory for big women?
Sherry: For me, it's got to be big earrings.

Lornadahl: Oh, yes! I worship big earrings, too! I know you're also into big bags, big wristwatches and big curls. Twins tayo eh! Wait, you've outgrown them na?
Sherry: I'm still very much into big bags, big wristwatches, big rings, and big curls. I'm just starting to go back to being conscious about the way I look. I recently had a digital perm so I have big curls again. Woohooo! Next thing would be to start getting used to wearing big earrings again. I haven't worn any from the time I got pregnant up to now. It's going to take some time getting used to it.

The look of satisfaction from her recent digital perm from Tony & Jackey.

Is it just me or is it P100 bill customized as bling bling? Enlighten me, Sherry!

Lornadahl: Where do you buy your earrings?
Sherry: I buy most of my earrings from those Bente shops. They only sell earrings for 20 pesos, real cheap! It's a good thing that my ears are not that sensitive anymore because in the past I would always have allergies if the earrings I'm wearing are not real gold. So arte!

Lornadahl: How do you deal with I'm-so-fat-and/or-ugly days?
Sherry: I just tell myself to get over it! But when all else fails, it helps to have someone special next to you, someone who knows when you feel depressed about the way you look without you telling them, someone who'll tell you that you're beautiful everyday.

Lornadahl: What if THAT person you expect to support you will be the one to crush your self-confidence? Like what happened to me before, remember?
Sherry: If that does happen - which I strongly believe it won't - I'll make sure that I crush them too, physically! Hahahaha! I'm a lover not a fighter but I'll still knock you down because for me to start feeling better after that kind of damage to my self-esteem, I'll have to do something to that person that he/she won't forget.

Lornadahl: Would you agree that guys only chase after skinny women?
Sherry: Not all of them, I know that for sure. My hubby always tells me that he likes me with a lot of meat. Haha!

Sherry gets a wet kiss from her husband, Jason.


Lornadahl: If you were to appear on a billboard or magazine cover, how would you look like?
Sherry: A very happy and satisfied mom.

Sherry with baby Keane at 5 months. Keane aka Bilog.

Lornadahl: If you were to endorse a local clothing for big women, what would it be and why?
Sherry: I don't really wear branded clothes, so I don't know how to answer this question. My clothes are mostly ukay-ukay, hand-me-downs and from those Korean shops that sell big clothes.

Lornadahl: Me, too! I'm such an ukay ukay fan! Which ukay ukay shops do you frequent? And which Korean shops? I am yet to hear one that cater to big girls!
Sherry: It's actually my mom who buys clothes for me. She usually frequents Divisoria for cheap clothes. I would usually buy mine from the Korean-style shops at Victory Mall. Yyou know how Koreans love wearing loose clothes, well it's good for me because it's just the right fit.

Lornadahl: What's the secret behind your self-confidence and body acceptance?
Sherry: Just learn to love yourself, EVERYTHING up to the faults, even those stretchmarks, it's what makes me...ME! Also, why not try putting a mirror in your bathroom and look at yourself while you're taking a bath and tell yourself that you're beautiful and sexy. I believe that if you can't stand looking at yourself in the nude, that just shows how bad you see yourself and how low your self-esteem is.

Lornadahl: Ouch. You know I'm such a camwhore, but I don't think I can do nude photography or nude sketchings. Can you go that far?
Sherry: Heck no! I can only do self-admiration in the comfort of our own bathroom.

Lornadahl: What is beautiful about being big?
Sherry: You stand-out! You just have to learn how to look at it in the positive way.

Lornadahl: How do you respond to the argument that obesity is unhealthy?
Sherry: For me, it's unhealthy if you always run out of breath with just doing minor things or if you have high-blood because of too much fats to the point that you can't do most of the normal things you do everyday.

Lornadahl: Given a chance, would you join reality shows like "The Biggest Loser" or "Thintervention with Jackie Warner"? Why or why not?
Sherry: Never. I love myself this way. Why would I go as far as joining reality shows to lose weight? If I want to shed a few pounds, I can do it myself at my own pace. I feel like those kinds of shows only humiliate big people and make fun of them.

Lornadahl: Not that I see myself joining reality shows like that, but somehow it promotes the fact that some big people are after fitness, too. Media tend to present fat people as overeating lazybones. Would you agree?
Sherry: I understand that there are big people who want to have a change in their lives so they chose to be fit. I just don't like the way media presents TV shows that focus on big people. It always comes through as degrading for me. I don't know, maybe it's just me.

Lornadahl: Don't you find reality shows like these inspirational for other big people? Or such shows encourage people to obsess about inches lost - whether it's done in healthy or unhealthy manner?
Sherry: I think it only makes people (even the already thin ones) to become more obsessed with their weight. So much so that they go as far as taking in all kinds of weight-loss medicines or skipping meals. Gosh!

Lornadahl: What do you say to people who say you’re addicted to food?
Sherry: What's wrong with that? I love good food, I feel sorry to those who doesn't.

Lornadahl: How do you feel if people stare at you? yell degrading stuff at you? Do you ever experience that?
Sherry: Stare at me? I tell myself they're looking at me because I'm beautiful. Yell degrading stuff at me? That never happened to me.

Lornadahl: Do you believe that thin privilege happens? Which of those apply to you?
Sherry: I only agreed to one. "I do not have to be afraid that when I talk to my friends or family they will mention the size of my body in a critical manner, or suggest unsolicited diet products and exercise programs." This already happened to me a lot of times. I just tell them that I don't care about what they think as long as I am happy.

Lornadahl: Do you ever confront people? What happens when you do?
Sherry: Not really.

Lornadahl: What do fat people want to be called?
Sherry: Sexy!

Lornadahl: Why did you have your tongue pierced?
Sherry: It's a symbol that I'm a strong woman. It helps boost my self-esteem, makes me feel more confident about myself. I don't know why, though.

Lornadahl: Does a big woman's self-appreciation and self-love root from the culture/environment she's accustomed to? What can you say about Filipinas and their self-appreciation?
Sherry: Culture/environment has a lot to do with it. If the environment we live in right now is not so obsessed with the physical appearance, we wouldn't be having any problems with "who looks better with this and that".

Lornadahl: What would you tell your son Keane if he asks someday, "Why are you fat? Why can't you be like other mothers?"
Sherry: I'm not like any other moms. I am very happy with my skin. I am beautifully big and proud of it.

Loving the body she's in.

Lornadahl: Let's assume that you'd have a daughter who will turn out to be plus-size when she grows up. How will you convince her or them that it doesn't make her a lesser person?
Sherry: I'll tell her that everything about her is unique and that makes her beautiful, every curve!

Lornadahl: Some big girls are unaware that they're beautiful and sexy. What would you tell them?
Sherry: Wake up! Stop looking at those magazines that only show skinny women, that is sure to shoot down your self-esteem. Try looking at yourself in the mirror LONGER than when you're looking at those mags, and tell yourself what a knock-out you really are.

Lornadahl: Bakit lahat na ng curves kinuha mo? Di ka man lang nag-share sa mga sisters mo! They're so thin, no?
Sherry: They are! Well it's not my fault. I can't help it that I'm the one who's blessed with all the womanly curves. Hahahaha!

***End of Interview***

Monday, March 14, 2011

Yoga for Big People

ECHOYoga's Yoga for Big People/Restorative Yoga

Imagine my happiness upon hearing about this class from my best friend Grace. Finally, an [re-]introduction to yoga that instantly shatters any form of intimidation. In my mind, I belong here!

After the long wait, I found the time and budget to attend this class 3 weeks ago. Newbies can borrow any of their yoga mats, blocks and other aids but it is highly recommended to bring your own towel especially if you sweat profusely. That particular Monday, neither Vicky Ortega nor Jeannie Javelosa were unable to conduct the class. Paulo, who holds vinyasa flow classes every Saturday mornings, took over.

Beginner's luck or not, I took great satisfaction how the 1.5 hours of stretching and deep breathing resulted to the relaxed aura I had long sought for. [Too bad I had no photos to prove it.] Unlike the other attendees who had officially ended their work day, I felt every sinew was rejuvenated that I can tolerate any form of corporate slavery in my graveyard shift. And you must know that I love complaining about work-related stress.

The following Monday, I had a scheduled training in our Eastwood office. I opted to go for Muay Thai training in Elorde Boxing Gym to confuse my body with a sudden anaerobic treat. As I have detailed here, I landed in a hospital to re-stage a knee injury. Until now, my subconscious asks what would have happened if I skipped workout that day and patiently waited for the next opportunity to do restorative yoga. Your guess is as good as mine. Ommmm...


Photo shamelessly lifted from ECHOYoga's official website. Photo by Silvina Gall.

To help us understand how yoga will make our bodies -and lives- improve, I threw in some questions for Vicky Ortega to answer. Here's how it went.

Lornadahl: I would like to congratulate you for coming up with yoga classes for big people. I really enjoyed my first time and I'd be back for more soon. Why did ECHOYoga come up with such? How is it different from other beginner's class?
Vicky Ortega: The inspiration behind yoga for big people was my own experience in still being able to do yoga even when my weight was 178 lbs. I remember Jeannie Javelosa saying that I was probably the only teacher who, because I am also plus sized, would have the best chance of making yoga for big people relevant. I understand the issues of big people from a personal perspective.

It is similar to a beginner's class in terms of pace. However, there is a focus on understanding the physical needs of big people. The asanas are adjusted and props, such as blocks, bolsters and rolled mats, are used as support to help the students do the asana safely.

Lornadahl: Do big people tend to have a harder time to do the asanas?
Vicky Ortega: There are certain physical realities that big people have to contend with, such as tummies and bigger thighs. And, of course, weight. So the asanas are adjusted to address those needs. But the benefits of the asanas remain the same.

Lornadahl: I've had a history of kneecap dislocation and meniscus tear. Will yoga eventually help me heal and make my knee stronger? What kind of yoga would you recommend for me?
Vicky Ortega: Yes, yoga is a very healing practice. Through consistent practice, it can help your body open up and strengthen your muscles. I have a 72 year old student who needs knee replacement surgery. After 10 one-on-one lessons of yoga, she walks better and is more confident that her body can still stretch, stand and bend even though her knees remain weak. Depending on the condition of your knees, I would recommend gentle flow yoga for you. It is slower and the teacher can adjust the asanas for you.

Lornadahl: How will students benefit from yoga?
Vicky Ortega: Yoga is the science of breathing. Many of us don't realize how constricted our breathing is till we begin to breathe in yoga class. Just learning how to breathe fully can release a lot of stress and tightness in our body. Doing the asanas will help open our body. It is always a gift to realize that our body can do more than we expect it to. Simply being able to reach the floor with our hands gives us a sense of liberation. That I can still stand on my head, even with my size and weight, gives me a sense of liberation. I am not bound by the limitations of size and weight.

Yoga is also very healing. About three years ago I suffered from trigeminal neuralfia, a very painful nerve condition that made speaking, eating and even smile extremely painful. My medicines could not completely manage the pain so I turned to yoga as a complementary therapy. Today, I teach again and my pain is managed very well. Yoga has also helped me manage the amount of medicines I take.

Lornadahl: Wow, that's impressive! Will yoga work for weight loss? How is it different from other strenuous workout?
Vicky Ortega: Yoga can work for weight loss, if done consistently---at least 5 times a week. The practice of yoga asanas leads to certain sense of calmness which helps the mind quiet down and allows one to meditate. Yoga is a practice that unites mind and body. After a practice session, one tends to feel more energetic and also more peaceful. This is what makes it different from the primarily physical workouts.

***End of Interview***

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Love the Morena Skin You're In!

It is depressing that it took a white guy like Paul Morrow to diligently research on our ancient writing system and even dedicate this website for it. It is equally sad to watch videos of foreigners who teach Filipinos and other nationalities alike the complex Filipino Martial Arts. And, just like what Filipino-Canadian entertainer Mikey Bustos recounted in the video below, a number of Caucasians actually spend a fortune to look bronzed.

So why is it damn hard for us to love the skin we're in? Why does it have to take foreigners to appreciate our natural gifts?

Just like most of you, I grew up being told that white is right and brown is macho. It doesn't help either that my mother and grandmother take pride in their complexion and whatever better treatments they enjoy for such. My father, on the other hand, calls foreign seas as his home most of the time. His stage father moments involved cheering me on for my dramatic monologues and other performances. Anything but beauty contests - official or mere role-plays.

But the most damaging for any 7-year-old kid to hear was:

"Di ka kagandahan, di ka maputi, di ka payat at wala ka ring alam sa gawaing bahay. Iwasan mo na lang magka-peklat para makapag-asawa ka pa balang-araw".
[You're hardly beautiful, skinny, fair-skinned and domesticated. You might as well avoid getting skin blemishes so you'd get hitched someday,"]

That statement robbed me of a child's zest for misadventures. I never got curious about riding a bike; all I could imagine was falling from it and getting bruised. I never donned neon prints either as I imagine I would be the laughingstock in class. I even had episodes of allergies for trying various skin whitening products. Evidently, I spent the rest of my salad days in bondage and negativity. I felt sure that better days will never come to pass. For being unattached at 28, I may be proving my grandmother right.

I can't stand my appearance in all angles. There was no way I can deny my pango nose, the dark contours of my lips, my dark skin and everything else that goes with my Pinay identity.

But this self-loathing magically ended one fateful day way back in 2005. I can't pin down what exactly made me realize that brown is beautiful, but I felt it during one of my earliest domestic travels, in exposure to carefree kolehiyalas in UP-Diliman and for other factors that I may be unable to identify at this point.

Now my skin grew darker than before. But I won't trade each beach bumming and sunbathing opportunities for anything. My closet? You'd have to put on your sunglasses before you unlock it. A wide array of bright colors awaits! My skin had earned too many battle scars for the past months, too. Again, I wouldn't ask for substitution during one of those heated badminton games with friends. Most importantly, I can't wait for new adventures to try and see how it will reflect on my skin.

It felt it was high time to step out of the dark and tell the world I'm a queen in my own right, too! Mabuhay ang mga morena!

All photos by Toni Cruz.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Real Life Goddess - Leslie Ann Canlas

When I think of Women's Day, I get reminded of Sushmita Sen's winning answer to the question, "What is the essence of being a woman?" She emphasized on a woman's ability to demonstrate care for others and share herself to the world. Although I do not dismiss it as a typical beauty queen response, I find it equally important for women to take care of themselves and address the issues that prevent us from loving ourselves fully.

I am so honored to introduce a great woman who takes pride in her full figure who incidentally happens to be a beauty queen! Let's give it up for Leslie Ann Canlas!

Leslie's glorious moment.

Lornadahl: Congratulations on winning Miss Bilbiling Mandaluyong 2011! Can you tell us something about this pageant? How many years na siyang ongoing? And how come we don't have that in Bacoor, Cavite?
Leslie: Thank you. Miss Bilbiling Mandaluyong is a beauty contest for plump women. If I’m not mistaken, had been around 25 years. Why don’t you have it in Bacoor? That I cannot answer. Hahaha!

Lornadahl: Wow, 25 years! That explains why it made it to the news. How will you promote health awareness among your constituents? And will you vie for the additional award [and hopefully cash prize] at the turn-over of your title next year?
Leslie: Honestly, I don’t have any idea yet as this is my first time. Hahaha. As far as I know, Kababaihang Kakaiba ng Mandaluyong (KKM) will create a program to promote health awareness which I will be part of. I am just not sure when it’ll be discussed to us. I’ll post it on Facebook once I learn how it works. Yes. It’s for free naman. So why not?

Ms. Bilbiling Mandaluyong 2011 and Ms. Mandaluyong 2011.

Lornadahl: How did the Question & Answer portion go? What was your winning answer? Did you ask for world peace, too?
Leslie: I can say that Q&A went well for me. Hahaha! It was sad that I forgot about world peace. Hmm...I guess I was too focused on what I can contribute to fight climate change – this was the question that helped me make it to the top 5.

But my favorite is the final question for the top 5: “Kung bibigyan ka ng pagkakataong makilala ang sarili mo noong sampung taong gulang ka pa lamang, ano ang sasabihin mo sa iyong sarili?”I answered “Ang sasabihin ko sa sarili ko… Ang ganda ganda ko! Why? Because it took me 7 years to accept and embrace how my body is shaped. Kung natanggap ko lang po sana ang katawan ko and na-convince ang sarili ko na maganda ako back when I was 10 years old, eh di sana mas mahaba pa po ang time na naging masaya ako. Thank you.”

Lornadahl: You know what, I agree with you. Life had been easier if we learn to accept our body earlier in life. And I’m sure your example can inspire the goddesses in rest out there to unleash their true selves. Anyway, how did you respond to the climate change question? We could really use a lot of reminders and proposed action plan.
Leslie: The question was “Ano ang maiaambag mo sa lumalalang suliranin ng climate change?” I answered “Ang pagtatanim ng puno and to encourage other people to do the same thing. Why? As we know, ang climate change ay sanhi ng global warming at nagkakaroon ng global warming because of too much carbon dioxide sa atmosphere and the only way to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen is to plant trees at isa pa ang oxygen ang nilalanghap natin para mabuhay. Thank you.”

Lornadahl: I notice you're into funky hairstyle. I want to experiment this year and chop my long curls for something reeeeally short. But it'd make my face look bigger and zits super obvious and I'm really a wash-and-go type of girl. What hairstyle would you recommend?
Leslie: I suggest you try first to cut it ‘not so short’ like inverted bob until you’d get the courage to cut it really really short. I used to have a long straight hair but I got bored with it so I worked hard to change it up. Hahaha.

Leslie in long hair. Photo by Simoun Andres.

From long straight hair, I had a medium layered hairstyle then when I realized that I look better with a short hair, I had it cut every 2 weeks until I got my hair this short. Also, coloring or highlighting your hair is one way you can enhance your personal traits within this hairstyle.

Modelling for Ricky Reyes as seen in Love ni Mister, Love ni Misis.

Lornadahl: Love your skin, too! What's your food for your skin?
Leslie: I just follow the golden “skin” rule. Hahaha! CTM – Cleaning, Toning and Moisturizing. And drink plenty of water everyday.

Lornadahl: How would you describe your personal fashion style?
Leslie: Hmm... Chic as this style defines a powerful confident look and sharp lines that seem to come together in an effortless way like Rihanna.

Unapologetically chic!

Lornadahl: Aside from Rihanna, which celebrities serve as your style icons?
Leslie: Mary Kate Olsen.

Lornadahl: What's the best fashion accessory for big women?
Leslie: Plus size women should go for chunky, larger, bold piece of jewelry as it will make a huge difference to look. This works for me.

Big earrings is love!

Lornadahl: How do you deal with I'm-so-fat-and/or-ugly days?
Leslie: A pair of sunglasses is the key to success. Hahaha! My motto is to skip makeup in my 'ugly days'—but never leave home without sunglasses for you to still look sexy and super-stylish.

Lornadahl: Sunglasses sure work! My nose is a major problem area, though. Wala masyadong pango-friendly na shades! Dream ko pa mandin mag-aviator sunglasses. What would you recommend for me to wear instead?
Leslie: Hindi ka naman pango. But if you’re not really comfortable wearing sunglasses and don’t feel like wearing makeup, just make sure that your eyebrows are shaped as well as your eyelashes so that your eyes would look great even without a makeup. Lip balm is a must! So you’d have soft lips even without a lipstick.

Lornadahl: Would you agree that guys only chase after skinny women?
Leslie: NO! I must admit that men are initially attracted to a woman by her physical attributes but it's only after a man gets to know a woman that he will realize if he actually likes her on a deeper level. So don’t think that just because a guy doesn't fall for you right away, it doesn’t mean it can't happen eventually if you show your attractive qualities as a person.

Lornadahl: Are you modeling right now?
Leslie: Sometimes.

Lornadahl: That's nice! Have you done print ads or TV commercials?
Leslie: Haven’t done national ad campaign. But my photos were used by some photographers for their folios.

Photo by Ness Sarmiento III.

Photo by Zham Libunao.

Lornadahl: Nga pala, Artventures@Conspi do nude sketching in Conspiracy every Saturday. If you wanna pose for them, let me know. They're always on the lookout for new models.
Leslie: Nude talaga? Hahaha! Parang hindi pa ata ako ready dun. Gawin ko siguro yun pag preggy na ako.

Lornadahl: Diba? Parang kaya nga siya tinawag na privates eh. Haha! Pero may big women na who posed for them. Anyway, if you were to appear on a billboard or magazine cover, how would you look like?
Leslie: I want the cover or billboard to look FIERCE!

Lornadahl: When you say you want to appear fierce, do you mean not-so-feminine (as in flowing gowns) seductive or try-me-I’ll-kill-you androgynous?
Leslie: A little bit of androgynous but seductive. Confused? Hahaha! Just look at Naima Mora’s photos. There! That’s what I like!

Leslie likes lots of attitude!

Lornadahl: If you were to endorse a local clothing and lingerie brand for big women, what would it be and why?
Leslie: Plus Size section sa Landmark. I dunno the brand eh. Why? 'Coz it’s more affordable and stylish.

Lornadahl: I notice you're a beach bum, too. Where do you buy your swimwear? Or do you have them personalized?
Leslie: I usually buy my swimwear from Sassa (Landmark), Venus (Landmark) and Coco Cabana (SM). They got my size.

Lornadahl: Where are the top 3 best local beaches for big women to loosen up and don a bikini?
Leslie: Bolinao, Potipot and Bohol – not that crowded. I can relax, swim with my oh so fab 2 piece on. Just to share what I read from one of my friend’s blog, “Everybody is a bikini body, because no one should dictate which ones are allowed to wear one and which ones are not.”



Lornadahl: What's the secret behind your self-confidence and body acceptance?
Leslie: I get my confidence from my family and friends. They never fail to reassure me that I carry myself well. Thanks to them because they are so honest. When something does not look good on me, they tell me and when something looks good on me, they always give compliment. I owe my confidence and body acceptance to them as they made me feel comfortable with how my body is shaped.

Lornadahl: What is beautiful about being big? What is beautiful about being morena?
Leslie: Beautiful about being big and morena? One word: Everything!

Lornadahl: How do you respond to the argument that obesity is unhealthy?
Leslie: Regardless of your weight, if you don’t live a healthy life, it is still unhealthy.

Lornadahl: Is it true that big women have harder time to achieve orgasms?
Leslie: Hahahaha! Baka naman mabilis lang masyado ang partner nila. That’s all. Thank you!

Lornadahl: Given a chance, would you join reality shows like "The Biggest Loser" or "Thintervention with Jackie Warner"? Why or why not?
Leslie: Sure. If I don’t have work. So I would know how it feels like being in a reality show. Hahaha. That’s it.

Lornadahl: What do you say to people who say you’re addicted to food?
Leslie: Lahat ng sobra masama!

Lornadahl: How do you feel if people stare at you? Yell degrading stuff at you? Do you ever experience that?
Leslie: If they stare at me, I always think na they’re staring at me because they find me sexy. They won’t look at me to begin with if I don’t get their attention that only means kapansin-pansin ako. Harharhar! Love your own sabi nga. I sometimes hear some people calling me “Mataba” or ‘Dabiana”, deadma lang! I just think na it’s not about me, it’s about them. I want to believe that they just want to take out whatever issues they have on me and will be satisfied if they see me affected. I’m sorry! I won’t give that satisfaction to them. Hehehe!

Lornadahl: Do you believe that thin privilege happens?
Leslie: Some but not all of ‘em. I mean, there’s no need for that person to put it in writing when everyone knows na it’s really happening. I want to think that it’s her/his way to convince him or herself that being thin is better that any other body size. I have this feeling that the person who wrote that checklist was defeated by a plus size man/woman in a certain area that’s why he/she came up with that checklist to make bawi. I want to ask him/her “Is there nothing else to be proud about yourself other than your skinny frame?”

Lornadahl: Some of the enumerated thin privileges worked against me. Don’t you get tired of media depicting big people as super lazy and super takaw? I’ve had my share of random strangers handing me brochures promoting diet plans and appetite suppressants and the likes. And guys laugh out when I express my desire to learn pole dancing. They’re so mean!
Leslie: Nah. At the end of the day, I’m still the one dealing with myself; their opinions don’t matter to me. As long as I’m happy and feel good about myself, that’s what really matters. Your body should not define you as a person. Big just means big. That’s it!

Brochures ba kamo? Hahaha.. Yeah. Lalo sa Megamall, sa may Fitness First. Well, I just ignored the with matching irap. It’s my way of saying “Excuse me! I don’t need that! If ever mag-gi-gym ako, hindi dahil sa brochure na 'yan but because I’m already decided to do it. I can decide on my own. Thank you. “ (This is the bitchy side of me)

Anyway, about sa pole dancing, they are not mean, they're stupid because they don't know na buntis nga nakakapag-pole dancing, tayo pa kaya!

Need proof?

Lornadahl: Do you ever confront people? What happens when you do?
Leslie: Confront people? When they call me rude names? Yes, if I’m in the mood. Hahaha. I just look at them and say “Kahit ganito katawan ko hindi ko ipagpapalit ang mukha ko sayo!" Hahaha!

Lornadahl: What do fat people want to be called?
Leslie: Voluptuous or plump.

Lornadahl: I believe you've done plenty of domestic travels. Does a big woman's self-appreciation and self-love root from the culture/environment she's accustomed to? What can you say about Filipinas and their self-appreciation?
Leslie: Yes. As I have said, I get my self confidence from my family and friends, which I consider as part of environment I’m accustomed to, without them I will never feel comfortable about myself.

Lornadahl: Some big girls are unaware that they're beautiful and sexy. What would you tell them?
Leslie: Love yourself! Don’t let your body or physical attributes define the real beauty. It should come from within. Always feel good about yourself and the beauty will just show without any effort. Just aim for…an effortless beauty.

"I think the quality of sexiness comes from within. It is something that is in you or it isn't and it really doesn't have much to do with breasts or thighs or the pout of your lips."

--Sophia Loren.

Lornadahl: That’s easy for you to quote Sophia Loren. You ‘re naturally gifted with breasts and all-day pout on your lips! Hahaha! Seriously, you’re very beautiful and I’m so honored you agreed to appear in my humble blog. What's next for Ms. Bilbiling Mandaluyong 2011? Bb. Pilipinas 2011, maybe?
Leslie: Wow. Thank you! How I wish. Hahaha. But given the chance, I want to be a plus size model. I am still searching online where I can audition for that here in the Philippines. I don’t think we have that here kasi unlike in the US, UK and Canada. They really have model search for plus size women. That’s my next goal.

The heavyweight winners.

***End of the Interview***