Lornadahl: Tell us what’s like to be an Erzullie Icon. How did it change you? Your view of yourself?
Karen: It's super fun! It's like having your most impossible dream come true. It changed me in a way that I am more open to people now and being part of this family really encouraged me to really reach out to others and help them love themselves too. It made me realize that,YES, I really am beautiful and it all starts by accepting and loving yourself as a whole.
Lornadahl: When you heard about their search for the next Icon/s, did you feel qualified to apply or your family and friends had to convince you it’s your time to shine?
Karen: Not to sound conceited, but I felt that I am qualified agad when I saw the ad for the Model/Icon search. I talked to my boyfriend about it though after I decided to go for it and he was sooo ecstatic at the time. Really encouraging! My family was sooo thrilled as well, but not really surprised. My grandparents even told me "Yan, may apo na ako na artista, may dinulot din 'yung kaka-picture mo!" I love taking pictures kasi.
Lornadahl: How would you describe your personal fashion style?
Karen: I would have to say classic feminine but laid back. Well, in a way! I usually choose my outfit based on my mood really. If you go through my closet, you’d probably see a lot of dresses and girly blouses. I don’t go for what’s "in" for the season, I go for the classics! My motto is "Bakit ka susunod sa uso if you can be stylishly different?"
Lornadahl: What’s that one thing you WON’T be seen wearing in a public place?
Karen: Two-piece! Hahahaha!
Karen's beachwear look!
Lornadahl: Which celebrities serve as your style icons?
Karen: Jackie O and Princess Diana. Love them! And
Swift for the laidback look. Taylor
Lornadahl: What's the best fashion accessory for big women?
Karen: Hmmm... Best accessory would be her confidence! But fashion wise, I think every big women must have comfy fabulous heels. Any simple outfit with killer fabulous shoes is the best!
Case in point: this colorful pair!
What's wrong with being imeldific?!
Lornadahl: How do you deal with I'm-so-fat-and/or-ugly days?
Karen: I can’t remember having those days! Haha! But whenever I feel down, I play dress up. I model all my favorite clothes, put on some make up and pose in front of my mirror. I'm so in love with my self, I know. Haha! Sometimes I do it in the mall's dressing room too then have ice cream after.
Lornadahl: Would you agree that guys only chase after skinny women?
Karen: Nope! If that were true, then breast and butt implants would be obsolete. I know a lot of guy friends who go for the curvy type, I hear them say that they really just get turned off by them [skinny women] because of the confidence issue. Ladies, we should learn to love ourselves if we want others to loves us too.
Lornadahl: Do you think a great number of men appreciate big girls, too? Why so?
Karen: If you mean appreciate big, confident women, then YES!!! I do, really. Because we are REAL to ourselves and we know who we are and we love it! Have you ever heard about “Being confident is sexy"?
Lornadahl: If you were to appear on a billboard or magazine cover, what would your desired peg/theme be?
Karen: Hmmmm tough one! I would have the Roman goddess theme! I would be in a Venus-cut strappy dress with a thigh-high slit , then “men” would line up and hand me flowers or gold or whatever that is they offer to gods.
Lornadahl: If you were to endorse a local clothing for big women (aside from Erzullie, of course), what would it be and why?
Karen: Oohh! Honestly Erzullie is the best local plus size brand I know. They give us the chance to be fashionable even though we are big! I noticed kasi that other brands just have the usual XXXL t-shirts and blouses. Im sorry, just being honest. But I like Bayo. They have big sizes din sometimes and some pieces are pretty stylish for big women.
Lornadahl: Would you be willing to do nude modeling? Why or why not?
Karen: Definitely not! I have limits and it’s not a confidence issue, it’s more of being conservative.
Lornadahl: What's the secret behind your self-confidence and body acceptance? Is there a sob story behind it?
Karen: It’s not a sob a story really. Well, I used to be “talked about” at school because I am a fatty but my boyfriend was the popular type. Shocking, isn’t it? I get the mean stares and the usual “Bakit siya, eh ang taba niya diba!” and the never-ending head-to-toe look from the ‘”pretty girls”. I just laugh it off really. It didn’t bother me much.
The talk of the town!
Lornadahl: That's good it never got the best of you! What's your secret?
Karen: I guess the secret is to know your worth. I already know who I am early on so the teasing and other mean stuff never got to me because I know it’s not true. I also accepted myself and I’m happy with it. God made me this way so make the most of it, diba?
Lornadahl: What is beautiful about being big?
Karen: You know that people stay with you because of who you are inside.
Lornadahl: What you dislike or hate about being big?
Karen: Nothing really nung nasa
ako. But moving here in Singapore? Argh! It's so hard to find stylish clothes. Even brassieres that fit are challenging to find. Funny story, I was looking for a minimizer bra the other day so I went to this popular undergarments store and asked a saleslady if they had one. The saleslady said “Ohh I’m so sorry Ma’am, but there is no minimizer bra in all of Philippines ”. Hindi daw kasi mabenta! Grr. But other than the clothes issue, nothing at all! Singapore
Lornadahl: As a health professional, how do you respond to the argument that obesity is unhealthy?
Karen: It really is unhealthy to be obese. Even though we love our curvy body, we should take care of it too.
Lornadahl: How do you take care of your extra seksi body?
Karen: I eat just right (kahit hindi halata), I drink a lot water too for hydration and skincare. I make it a point to exercise like walking or jogging twice a week for cardio. I eat a lot of fruits too. For skincare, I always put sunblock, moisturizer and lotion since it's so dry and humid here. For make-up, I love KRAVE cosmetics! We worked with them during our last photoshoot.
Karen attended marathons, too!
Making new friends after the marathon
Lornadahl: Given a chance, would you join reality shows like "Biggest Loser" or "Thintervention with Jackie Warner"? Why or why not?
Karen: Sure! I love the challenge.. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be healthy and fit!
Lornadahl: What do you say to people who say girls our size are addicted to food?
Karen: Well, we can afford our addiction naman so it's OK!
Lornadahl: How do you feel if people stare at you? yell degrading stuff at you? Do you ever experience that?
Karen: I never experienced any yelling of degrading stuff before, no one deserves that! But I get stared at a lot of times. It’s ok I guess, it just means I’m beautiful and I get their attention.
Lornadahl: Do you believe that thin privilege happens? Which of those apply to you?
Karen: Not really! Well, I guess in clubs and parties, thin women get noticed first. But in important life aspects like work, career or religion, we are all equal!
Lornadahl: Do you ever confront people? What happens when you do?
Karen: If you mean confront them when they insult me about being big, I haven’t had the experience yet. I hate confrontation, but I guess if ever someone did that to me and it was really, really mean and personal, I’d walk up to that person, smile sweetly and say “You have no right to say that to me because you don’t know me. But still I thank you because you just showed others that I am way better than you are." Then I'll walk away (eksena lang!) No violence needed.
Lornadahl: What do fat people want to be called? (i.e. voluptuous, plump, sexy, etc)
would be the best answer to that, but if I go with what’s given, I go for sexy syempre. Normal
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?
Karen: Our culture and environment is influenced a lot by the Western media and fashion ideals so I’d say that self appreciation and love would most likely come from ourselves and from the support of our family and friends. Filipinas have this strive to be accepted and to look like the Hollywood celebrities. Sure, they are flawless, but we should also realize that it's all an illusion. We Filipinos as a whole - fat or thin - should greatly appreciate what we have because we are beautiful. To a point that other races have to tan themselves to get our sunkissed color or alter themselves to get our bone structure. Working here made me see that Filipinos are way envied by other people not just because of how we look, but also because of our brains, dedication to our work and passion for humanity. So we should be proud diba?
Lornadahl: Let's assume that your future daughters (or sons) will turn out to be plus size when they grow up. How will you convince them that it doesn't make them a lesser person?
Karen: I’d tell them “Look at Mommy (me), I'm big, too, and you love me still diba, so it's OK to be big. What’s important is your heart and how you love yourself and treat others because God made us all equal so we are all beautiful!”
Lornadahl: Some big girls are unaware that they're beautiful and sexy. What would you tell them?
Karen: Look at the mirror and see that there is nothing wrong with being us! We are all blessed with life so live it. Don’t dwell on negative body issues because you are complete and you are beautiful. Learn to love what you see and accept what you have so others would accept you as well. Life is too short to be too self- conscious. Live life!
Face that goddess in the mirror and come out to the world as a winner!