Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Real-Life Goddess: Karen Diokno

I'm sure you realize that one is never enough. So we're placing the spotlight to another Erzullie Icon you seriously need to meet!

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.

Valerie Concepcion...NOT! Meet Karen Diokno! 

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?"

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Exhibit C

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 Taylor Swift for the laidback look.

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 Philippines 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 Singapore”. Hindi daw kasi mabenta! Grr.  But other than the clothes issue, nothing at all!

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)
Karen: Normal would be the best answer to that, but if I go with what’s given, I go for sexy syempre.

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!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

GIRLTALK: Everything Between Obesity and Orgasms

Even before this research finding got published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy in May 2011, we probably already heard of news and testimonies stating fat sex is not as satisfactory as..uhm..."normal" sex. It got me thinking if there's any truth to these seemingly widely-accepted perceptions. So, I decided I find the experts with the following qualifications 1.) those who can compare the difference in fat sex and whatever-you-call-the-opposite; and 2.) those who will be honest about their sexual experiences.

Luckily for me, I have 2 bestest friends who can enlighten me about my research questions. So, it's Lakapati and Grace today; then probably Rebecca Jane Weinstein tomorrow!

Meet the Triumvirate: Lornadahl, Lakapati and Grace
Taken during Lakapati's Wedding in December 2010

Lornadahl: You've moved weight divisions. How did you do it and what for?
Lakapati: I've moved from being okay to overweight to slightly overweight and still losing weight with lots of ways over the the last 6 years, most of which are temporary and unsustainable (i.e. diet pills, cigarettes and not eating, etc.) but what is working and sustainable is overhauling my perspective on health in general.

I realized the holistic approach (mind, body, soul, spirit) is the only way to go. I quit all my addictions--smoking and food (read Confessions of an Ex-Smoker and I Quit Smoking...Now What? to know more about her journey); I commissioned the services of an integrative doctor to help me detox; now being raw vegan from someone who just ate less meat (pork-free since 2008) and more organic vegetables; rooting in faith and practicing charity with other belief systems which differ from my own; exercising more by developing routines through learning Kali and yoga, and rebounding (this I still need to be more disciplined). It's an ongoing and continuous journey. I did for no one else but myself and I do it in my own pace.

Meet Lakapati, 70 pounds lighter after her wedding

Lornadahl: How did faith partake in this journey?
Lakapati:  Faith became a very intrinsic and essential part of the journey. Everything else is immaterial without proper grounding in faith. I can make all these changes but without a purpose aside from superficiality. Only through faith can one understand what one person stands for and understand his or her life's purpose. I now understand that I want to be healthier because I need to live longer. Why live longer? Because I have to be a great example of a life well lived reflecting the love and grace I received through the years hoping to impact as many people as I can. Without faith, I don't think I'll even conceive of such thoughts; I'll be nothing but a ship without an anchor.

Lornadahl: What's rebounding?
Lakapati: Rebounding is the act of jumping on a rebounder (small trampoline).

Photo nabbed from this website

Lornadahl: How about you, Grace? How did you manage to lose excess pounds and for what purpose?
Grace: The issue on weight began early in my life as I was an obese kid as soon as I turned twelve. I shed pounds significantly during high school when I played and competed for volleyball, then gained weight again when I entered college, lost weight again unhealthily through diet pills and crash diet bordering on starvation. It was losing and gaining then losing for no reason back then, except during college when I was doing it for vanity purposes. It was only after school when I slowly paid attention to it. I gained more weight than I ever gained my whole childhood and college years put together when I started working for media. I was eating too much, smoking heavily, drinking too much. It went on to my next jobs and I was really tipping the scale. My turning point was 2008 when my physician diagnosed me for something deeply connected to my lifestyle, which, if left unchanged, will cause me several cysts and possibly cancer.

From 2008 to present, I lost a total of 70 pounds. How? By changing the way I view health and being 'fit'. I'm still losing weight gradually - in a healthy and sustainable way now. I realised my views on attractiveness, fitness and health are mostly wrong. It's not about the figures on the scale, it's about looking at yourself as a wholistic being - mind, body and soul connected. When you begin to plant the desire to take care of your soul, then you start with the body.

[Smiling] Grace Today

The weight loss is a "side effect" of the inner health you practice. All of us may be doing the same workout routines but with different intentions in mind. The intention is not to flaunt, but to work on balance from inside out. Motive colors everything.

After the episode with my doctor, I altered my lifestyle. I adopted a moving lifestyle: stairs instead of lifts, walking instead of cabs, I started practicing yoga. And when you start yoga,  everything shifts. You pay attention to what you eat. I continued being vegetarian but with a different mindset so I started eating healthier and I started meditating. A changed mindset is the only sustainable way to being healthy. Break the old views, have a fresh and guided look at health and yourself as a whole, and everything follows.

Grace during the recently concluded Global Mala Yoga 2012

Lornadahl: Did faith partake in your journey, too?
Grace: I always have faith that any person already know what to do in life, all s/he has to do is to remember it. We have this deep disconnect with our own selves and we forgot our natural state. We have a lot of re-learning to do. It is natural for us to honor ourselves, this is where everything begins, we honor ourselves, we honor others, our planet. It's really simple and nothing supernatural or religious about it. Everything in this earth is connected and taking care of ourselves is our moral duty. My faith has everything to do in this journey.

In yoga, the first thing my teachers taught me is grounding. No matter how ugly you look in a pose, keep grounded no matter what. My faith is my grounding in all these changes I made. In everything you do for yourself, if they come from a deep true intention, everything moves towards that goal. Everything falls in its place ultimately.

Lornadahl: Wow, your stories inspire me. In case you're not yet aware, your examples affected how I treat my own body, too. I'd say I feel better now. Would you agree that obese people find it hard(er) to achieve orgasm? Can you compare your sexual experiences in term sof the big O when you were still obese and now that you've lost weight?
Lakapati: Basing it from my experience, no. Challenges with orgasm are rooted in more complex reasons rather than excess body weight. Being overweight or weighing less had nothing to do with my experience. In hindsight, I only had problems with reaching orgasm when I don't feel like doing it, whenever I'm very stressed and when I know deep inside I am doing it for the wrong reasons. Generally speaking, outside of that, it's all good. There is no difference between the big O then and the big O now aside from the fact that I'm doing it now with my husband. Heaven on earth.
Grace: I don't think this is accurate since sexual problems are caused by several other factors, such as hormonal conditions. Although obesity is usually linked to unhealthy lifestyle and overall, the quality of lifestyle (or health) affects a person's ability to orgasm. Mental states like stress, for example.

Photo nabbed from this site.

Lornadahl: Ok, you named stress, wrong reasons and hormonal conditions. How about YOUR partners? Is that a major factor, too? Lakapati, I remember how you used to date this jerk who asked you to lose weight. Then there's Grace's ex's abstinence for non-spiritual reasons. Does your partner's perception of your body play a role in achieving orgasms? Do you feel desexualized at times?
Lakapati: In the past, yes, it was a concern. I definitely stopped having sex altogether, even right at the middle of it. If my partner feels I have to lose weight for his enjoyment, then he does not "deserve" to do it with me.
Lornadahl: I suppose this "requirement" contributed to the break-up?
Lakapati: Goes without saying. And his non-payment of a P20,000 loan sealed the deal.

Grace: Personally they don't affect much. My own perception and my own view of my body image have more effect.
Lornadahl: But it still affected you somehow, right? I think there will be moments it helps that your partner validates your own appreciation of your body image. Would you agree?
Grace: Yes, I would agree, for although orgasm is still possible, the tendency of not having an appreciative partner is to find other expressions of these sexual energies (somewhere, in other activities or other partners). This, I think, lowers the quality of the whole experience. Though strictly speaking, weight and partner's perception do not directly impact the ability to orgasm.
Lakapati: To add to what I said earlier, although it is a PLUS to have my partner(s) love how my body looks, it is nothing but a bonus. I know I am beautiful in more ways than one, the only opinion that really counts is mine. The rest either complements or disagrees. And I tend to believe that women who fail to orgasm under these circumstances are more often women who lack self-esteem and/or do not know how to orgasm. If you don't accept yourself, there's no way you are going to orgasm.

Lakapati: "I know I am beautiful in more ways than one..."

In my estimation, this Lakapati's sexiest candid photo to date

Lornadahl: Do you ladies think men have body issues, too? Or are they good at concealing them?
Grace: Yes, they have. Not very good in concealing as well. If you go to gym, most of the people you see around are men. Almost all men I know want to remove their flabs, develop their upper body and triceps, they want strong leg muscles, they like expensive perfume or nice hair. Basically we're both in equal footing with men in terms of wanting to have good body image. The only difference is the "perfect" image educated to us as to what makes a "perfect" man and woman.
Lakapati: Men have body issues and, to add to what Grace said, a lot of men do compensate with "overdoing" a ton of things to hide their insecurity which highlights their personal body image concern(s). It's ludicrous. Men try to hide it by developing a huge ego as cover up.

Do men have body image issues, too?
Photo lifted here.

Lornadahl: Of course, that's a huge turn-off, right? Do you think a woman is also supposed to boost her partner's ego underneath the sheets?
Lakapati: It is a turn off especially if the guy tries too hard by saying he's "all that" and more. Just like the guy you interviewed from Facebook. A woman is NOT supposed to boost her partner's ego underneath the sheets or vice versa. If people desire flattery and ego blow-up from lovemaking then really, it can't be called lovemaking, it becomes a trough where horses/pigs feed from.

To be continued...

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Postcards from Zamboanga / On Repeating Swimsuits

And this unstoppable force finally got to bring her childlike energies in Zamboanga peninsula, aiming to bury her toes in the pinkish-white sand of Sta. Cruz Island and to frolic in the renowned shores of Dakak. Our 4-day stay proved to be insufficient to go the distance and visit the latter. We resolved to land at the Dipolog Airport (20 minutes away from Dakak vs. the 8-hour commute from the airport in Zamboanga City) next time. In spite of this unmet itinerary, we're all portraits of gladness and gratitude for the chance to chill out in Sta. Cruz Island.

There will be a separate entry for the amazing pinkish sand and other exciting finds on my travel blog. For now, let me show you some postcards from my recent adventure. Yes, postcards that include me and my beautiful swimsuit!

With my friends Claire, Mario, Phyll and Abby

Our party of five were very fortunate to step our wrinkled feet to a sandbar (it's actually a coral build-up with pinkish-white sand underneath). Of course, we grabbed the opportunity for more Kodakan! Our guide, Kuya Richard, said that most boats don't take the tourists in this area. It's our lucky day!


Remember my quick getaway with my at-work-and-play friends and then-boyfriend in Laiya, Batangas this summer? Had I been able to combat my curiosity for that asymmetrical swimsuit and compulsion to show support to the plus size bloggers/designers behind it, I would have donned this one-piece swimsuit as if it were the first time I did. See, it's currently my favorite swimwear for its strappy neckline details, sensual low-back cut and maximum support for my twins. If there were any flaw, its design may give people the impression that I'm a serious swimmer and, worse, drowning people are just one glide away. That's faaaar from true!

Imagine my shock when an anonymous visitor expressed his/her disapproval of my remark "Bawal mag-ulit ng swimsuit!!!" In that line, I was quoting the "fashion police" in our batch (she actually didn't say THAT, we just connected the dots and kiddingly cyber-bullied her that that's what she was trying to insinuate upon seeing my pictures in Boracay and Batanes wearing the same number). I was not trying to sound like an elitist nor suggesting that everyone - bloggers in particular - should veer away from recycling clothes. I apologize for the confusion.

I wrote:
I just broke my record this weekend. After this world premiere comes another. I wasn't expecting it either; this swimwear purchase was just a last-minute decision. When I stumbled on this blog entry, I got saddened that this cool launch slipped under my radar in spite of the fact that I'm just in Eastwood all working hours every week. Curiosity and excitement consumed me after hearing that The Plump Pinay twins designed a handful of curve-friendly swimsuits for I Love Koi. So I dragged my office pals to the Complex Lifestyle Store to check them out. While doing so, I recalled how one of my wave mates who'll be joining us in this quick summer getaway was JOKINGLY regarded as a fashion police ("Bawal mag-ulit ng swimsuit!!!"). Plus, it's my first out-of-town traipse with Waldo so I wanted to look extra extra seksi in his eyes. And the rest is an impulsive buying history.
- WORLD PREMIERE: That Asymmetrical Black + Snakeskin Swimsuit, 30 April 2012
Emphasis added

You've seen this one-piece number here, there and everywhere!

If you've been a frequent visitor of this blog, you're probably getting bored with my tendency to repeat clothes and probably turned off that I actually post unflattering photos that show my cystic zits, among others. And it doesn't bother me at all. Look, I'm a plus size woman in a slow journey to be more fashionable and kikay. I may succeed, I may return to my innate choice to be too comfortable and practical. I'm clueless myself where this will lead. But, hey, I'm real and that's what you'll see in my virtual niche.

Again, I'm sorry for whatever confusion that quoted statement had brought you. I'm no rich kid and in no position to endorse such kind of thinking. Thank you.

Photos from Claire, Phyll and Abby.
Collage by Winifred.

Friday, August 10, 2012

WORLD PREMIERE: That Black Kaftan

I know, kaftans are supposed to be light in color and fabric, but I ran out of options when my neon+neutral dress-cum-coverup got quite messy after our difficult descent to the Merloquet Falls and the equally action-packed ascend back and the unexpected marang par-tey in between. This is one of those rare moments when recycling stuff is far from recommended. Either that or I'm being too maarte again, yes?

The answer to that question won't be settled here. So, let me just show you how this black, long-sleeved dress looked like a strange choice against the sunny backdrops in Zamboanga. Yes, the adventures in the batcave, Sta. Cruz Island and the nearby sandbar deserve separate entries! Just you wait.

Close-up of the neckline and cuff details

I admit this ukay ukay purchase felt too warm under the bright sun, but I felt somewhat justified knowing that Dolphy, the King of Comedy, was being laid to eternal rest that Sunday. Coincidentally, our guide, Kuya Richard, took us to the old graveyard of our Badjao brothers and sisters near the island. I suddenly felt...appropriately dressed.

Aaaaand I'm gonna conclude this pointless blog entry with back-to-back jump shots taken in the pinkish-white shores of Sta. Cruz Island.

Photos from Claire Madarang, Abby Mayuga and Phyll Miram.