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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Funny Thing About Acceptance

Dyosa. Ganda. Galing ng transpormasyon. (Goddess. Beautiful. An astonishing transformation.)

Kiray as Goddess.
(Styled by Fanny Serrano
Photographed by MJ Suayan
Taken from Serrano's Facebook page)

These, and much more, were heaped upon the actress known as Kiray, after a styling done by famous make up artist Fanny Serrano and photographed by MJ Suayan was publicized. Photos that captured the transformation were posted on Serrano's Facebook page, and roundly applauded as masterful. Many people were actually left wondering who the model was initially, proof that this was, indeed, a complete 180 turn.

Serrano himself has said that he initiated the contact with Kiray, presenting himself as a form of fairy godparent because he couldn't stand the negative feedback Kiray was getting as one of the supposedly 'worst-dressed' people at a recent social function. Some of the barbs, he observed, were downright personal and he wanted to do something about it.

It certainly showcased Serrano's mastery of the make up brush. It also highlighted how good camera angles, neck stretching and other tricks that professional models do can make a 'superior' picture. The shot of self esteem this must give Kiray - who is usually made fun for her physical appearance - is incalculable.

If this is all the photoshoot conveys, I am more than happy that Kiray must be basking in the afterglow of being called a goddess, or that Serrano has reminded people of his talent, or that MJ Suayan's studio will now be booked solid.

Finally, Kiray can count herself as one of the 'pretty girls' of local showbiz, with the photographs to prove it.

Something left me unsettled, though.

It was what the meta-message said, a term I learned from reading one of Dr. Margarita Holmes' many articles: it simply means the message behind the message. Which I certainly do not think was the intention behind the generosity shown by Serrano and Suayan to Kiray, an attempt to stave off further negative, painful name-calling.

In order to be accepted, you have to look a certain way. In order to win positive feedback, you have to deny parts of yourself. In order to be desirable, you must be someone else.

I admit I may be reading too much into it. After all, no opinion is to be treated as writ in stone. But I can't help but feel that the beauty industry - worldwide, one that is valued in the billions - must be having a satisfactory smile at the reception this has been getting.

An industry that likes to think of itself as "enhancing" a person, but is making a simple statement, no matter how it's packaged: you're just not good enough. But you could be, if you buy our magic potion.

Dark skin? Filipinas must strive to have alabaster layers like Snow White.

Still not promoted? You must not have the latest designer dress or shoes.

Dateless? Not if you schedule visits to a celebrity doctor's clinic for the latest noninvasive procedure.

If this makes me a Scrooge to the happy bubble Kiray must be in right now, then so be it. I'm seriously happy for her if this makes her feel good.

I just wished we lived in a world that saw past the physical and the outer form. It's not realistic, I may be a dreamer, call me insane, but I wish people were valued because of their talents, skills, and that je ne sais quoi that each of us has, instead of the ability to approximate some perceived ideal, and in the process, remove all traces of what made us us in the first place.

Crazy, huh?

Friday, September 20, 2013

"Yan Lang Bibilhin Nyo?"

It's been quite awhile since I've written, owing to my new work. But when something of note takes place, there's nothing left to do but to immortalize it through the written word.

(Courtesy of food

After concluding my business at one of our offices located near Mall of Asia, I discovered I had to take a scenic (read: long, winding, unnecessary) route to get back to Makati. It was the first time I came across the place called Aseana City, and what stood out (for me, anyway) was the giant warehouse/shopping center SNR.

I then remembered that we had not done our weekly grocery shopping so I decided to drop by the store to purchase a couple of roast chickens for a couple of meals. It was mid-afternoon so I was dismayed to find a huge amount of people, practically blocking all passageways with their huge carts and lazy, I'm-leisurely-strolling vibe.

Mentally "sucking it up" (I detest crowds, big whoop), I made my way to the roasting area. With my premature senility kicking in, I managed to forget - again - that I had to pay first at the checkout counter before getting my stash. (Quite odd since you can't leave the place if you don't show your receipt.)

As I feared, hordes of carts were lined up in practically every counter. I was resigned to wasting at least an hour when I espied the very last two lanes - just one cart! I rushed over (even bumping into a college classmate) and lined up behind a single female customer, who was next to be served.

She turned to me and said, "would you like to go first? I don't have my card and it turns out I'm only allowed to go to the food service area and not the shopping area. Anyway, I'm just buying these two conditioners so go ahead."

So we switched places, and I told the checkout counter employee that I was ordering two roast chickens.

Apparently, she wasn't well-versed as to what code or button to use and started calling the next counter person, who was busy ringing up her customers' purchases. She then turned to me and asked, nasaan ang mga manok? (Where are the chickens?)

I informed her of their own store's policy of paying first before getting the chickens. And then she responded in a completely surprising way.

"Yan lang bibilhin nyo?" (That's all you're buying?)

In a split second, I decided to not make a big deal out of it. A smile crept up uncontrollably and I said "yes. That's all I'm ordering."

She then raised both her eyebrows, as if to say "wow, you've got a lot of nerve shopping here when others have carts and spend tens of thousands." As luck would have it, the woman who gave me way turned out to be my mouthpiece.

"Eh, ano bang paki mo kung yan lang bibilhin niya? (What do you care if that's all he purchases?) I'm just buying these two conditioners...ano, pagsasabihan mo rin ako na eto lang bibilhin ko?" (What, are you also going to berate me for my purchases?)

My work here is done, it seems.