During that awkward stage called adolescence, we struggled to discover our own identity and experience self-acceptance and, most likely, started by looking for role models and/or friends to be associated with. Amidst the high school and college populace where almost everybody wants to stand out and/or leave a mark, I found inspiration from a particular schoolmate (sorry, fair-skinned best friends!) whose simple yet elegant example reminds me that beauty can be effortless. With her consistently delightful smiles and charming exterior, it was easy for me to consider Apaul Tatlonghari-Bello a girl crush way back in high school.
Lornadahl: We Pinays are bombarded with reminders that "white is right". Have you always been convinced that brown is beautiful?
Apaul: I am. I never wanted to be a mestiza. I am proud Pinay! I just love my own color. I realized that we are blessed to have this complexion. Whereas people in the West spend lots of time and money going to a tanning salon just to achieve this kind of complexion.
Lornadahl: Did you ever try whitening products, too? Any rants and raves to share?
Apaul:: Yes... but for a short period only. Since my mom and I back then shared the same things. Hmnm.. something to share? Could that be a yearning? The most practical way is just to accept your color/complexion. Instead of spending money in those whitening products, use it productively like sharing it with your family or the needy.
Lornadahl: I used to think that being morena is limited to black outfits. I hated how I looked in white, pink, yellow and orange. How about you? Any colors you find unflattering for our skin type
Apaul: Back then, I had the same issue. So instead stop dwelling on it! The perfect solution is to embrace it! Now I'm bold in using different colors and wearing various outfits. Would you believe that my favorite color is white?
Lornadahl: Can you tell us what is your fashion style?
Apaul: Usually, my wardrobe staples are refined and sophisticated. I want to look sexy without wearing ass-skimming or boob-flashing clothes. Something with laid back vibe and looks effortlessly cool.
Lornadahl: Which celebrities serve as your fashion icons? Why?
Apaul: Locally, I like Angel Aquino and Pam Quiñones. For international, I love Alexa Chung. All of them are epitome of beauty and style! Undeniably gorgeous! They always wowed us with some beautifully pulled-together looks with a unique ability to stay ahead of the trends.
Lornadahl: Do you consider dark men sexy? Why or why not?
Apaul: Ofcourse! Dark men look HOT and APPEALING. Derek Ramsay is the perfect example. Indeed sizzling hot. But sexy is subjective. For me, sexy is a lot of things: guys with self-confidence, sense of humor, beautiful eyes, honesty, eloquence and presentable fashion sense.
Lornadahl: Do you think you are/were treated differently because you're morena?
Apaul: Now, differently in a nice way. Living in other country where majority of people are "white", you can easily draw attention. They just like it! They will find you pretty. However, I observed that when I joined a beauty contest way back in high school, usually the winner is a mestiza. And I wonder why the judges always find mestizas prettier than morenas.
Lornadahl: Do you think being morena is better when you're slim? Would it also work for plus-size women?
Apaul: Not really! In fact, plus-size women having this color can make you look slim. Being tan has an innate stigma of being sexy.
Lornadahl: I know you're a beach bum, too. Do you still go for sunbathing to become darker? Are you satisfied with your color already?
Apaul: I'm very much satisfied with my color. So I just enjoy the sun, whenever, wherever. I'm not afraid of getting dark.
Lornadahl: Do you confront people when they call you names (ex. baluga, kirara, etc)
Apaul: I haven’t experienced this yet. If ever, I will just ignore them.
Lornadahl: How do dark people want to be called?
Lornadahl: Do you also have a preferred skin tone for your romantic partner?
Apaul: Before I met my partner, I have a criteria for men. I wanted someone mysterious-looking, tall, brown-skinned and all. But now, it's changed! Regardless of the appearance, I love my partner. Loving him makes my life complete.
Lornadahl: Do you still get insecure about your complexion? get intimidated when surrounded by mestizas?
Apaul: No. Never!
Lornadahl: What's your secret for that even skin tone? I'm envious!
Apaul: Honestly, there's no secret. I do body scrub 3 times a week with an ordinary bath soap and body lotion everyday.
Lornadahl: How do you deal with I'm-so-fugly/dark days?
Apaul: There are really those days! When that thing strikes, I just focus on my strengths.
Lornadahl: There are so many morenas out there who still battle with skin acceptance. What would you tell them?
Apaul: POSITIVE SELF AFFIRMATIONS, DAILY! At first, it'll feel like you're lying to yourself! I know it sounds crazy, but it works, I'm telling you from experience to be comfortable with who you are and how you look. What matters is that you are beautiful and you deserve to feel that and be happy with yourself! No need to be imprisoned by insecurity.
All photos are from Apaul's Facebook page.
***End of Interview***