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!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
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!
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."
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.
***End of the Interview***