Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Ugly Price of Beauty

To become beautiful, women are willing to do anything, I mean EVERYTHING- from extreme diet fads to going under the knife- just to look like a Hollywood star, say Jessica Alba. But do we really know up to what extent the beauty industry will manipulate or photoshop decent pictures to perfection? 

Truth be told, even the most confident and beautiful person still has insecurities. Society has become so judgmental and less tolerable about women's flaws and imperfection. The evidence lies in the rampant use of airbrushing and cropping techniques to make celebrities lose 10 lbs in a magazine cover. It's not totally wrong if only minor retouches are done, but what happens is a total overhaul. We have been groomed over the years to believe that anything far from perfect is ugly.

Wanted: Sticks and Bones 

The fashion industry is very brutal. Designers are very picky in choosing what type of models they want to use for runway shows or editorial campaigns. Sometimes they can be specific- demanding girls with an edgy look, an androgynous feature or a strong walk. But the bottom-line is you have to be size 0 with a 23 inch waist.

What we see on runway shows are the fashion industry's full blown fantasy. Most of the dresses worn on the runway are extravagant, impractical and over-the-top. It's the kind of clothing  that you would not normally see any person wear in real life. And if you happen to see anyone wear it down the street- you'd think of them as crazy and absurd fashion whores.

(image source: here)

The same analogy applies too for stick thin models wearing designer clothes. Being stick thin may be  normal for fashion experts if you are a model, but never will that body type be considered a model for girls and women to emulate in real life.

Fashion has tweaked our mind that a super skinny body is the most desirable. However, common sense tells us that if you are stick thin it means something is wrong with you. It's either you are gravely sick or starving because of impoverished conditions.

(image source: here)

I see the point why basketball players need to be tall, or why jockeys need to be small- that makes their job easier. Models need to be skinny for aesthetic purposes- I get it,  but why allow the unhealthy looking models work when these girls should be placed in a hospital or rehab centres. 
Skinny vs. Super Skinny

In order to compete against many aspiring models, girls resort to extreme measures to lose more weight. Being skinny is not enough because those tiny (size 0) sample clothes must fit you all the time. Gaining 1-2 pounds or just moving 1 size up may jeopardise your chances of being booked.

The pressure of staying thin over a long period of time can make girls develop eating disorders like Anorexia and Bulimia. Professional models start out as early as 14-16 years old so their bodies are not yet fully developed. But eventually their bodies start to grow, thus, they do whatever it takes to maintain a small frame, and most of the time- they go overboard with dieting.

 Coco Rocha, below, was called 'too fat for the catwalk' 
 ( image source: here)

The Elle Style Awards Model of the Year 2011, Coco Rocha, was labelled last year as too fat to walk the runway at size 4. In response, she opened a can of worms through her tumblr account. She attacked the fashion industry’s obsession with size 0 and questioned the morality behind encouraging young models to lose more weight- when in fact they’re already skinny.  

 (image source: here)

In 2008, this 5’10 beauty was also told that she’s too fat for weighing 108 lbs. And she was advised:
 “You need to lose more weight. The look this year is anorexia. We don't want you to be anorexic but that's what we want you to look like."

Zombies on the Runway

Every girl wants to be a model because you get to wear designer clothes and travel the world. But what upsets me the most is the price young girls are willing to pay in order to reach supermodel status.

Are cocaine, smoking, diet pills and starving the key to fame and fortune? 

What you get quickly will soon vanish before you know it. Sure, healthy eating and working out can take a while before its effect can be noticed, but relying on instant methods will not only destroy one’s body but it will mess up your psyche- crash your self respect.

( image source: here)

Whenever I watch fashion shows all I see are Zombies- minus the blood, but the gore factor is still there! Their hollow face and boney arms speak for themselves: FEED ME! 

Their face is so ghastly and cold- it looks depressing. As a rule of thumb, designers prohibit models to show emotions so the attention goes to the clothes and not the wearer. Well isn’t that quite degrading? It seems that couture clothes are put on a pedestal so high that you have no right to outshine it.

In real life, only the upper class really wear designer clothes because they can afford it. I can't help but notice that the look that most common on rich people’s faces is actually not far with the blank or snobbish expression that models-turned-zombies have. And I want to ask both of them:  “You are lucky, but what’s keeping you miserable?"

Starved to Death 

In recent years, models have died because of complications from eating disorders. A lot of blame has been pointed out to unrealistic body proportions demanded by designers. Since then few groups in the industry have banned skeletal models. But why not make an approach that solves the actual problem? Perhaps increasing the size to a more realistic one, since real women with curves are going to wear it anyway. 

Girls with big dreams have died, I don't know what else will it take for the fashion industry to take accountability and revolutionise the concept of beauty. 

And so here are some models who lost their way and take look closely at the massive transformation after starving themselves:

Ana Carolina Reston

 (image source: here)

(image source: here)
Ana Carolina Reston, 21, died for the most obvious reason- complications from an eating disorder. At her death she weighed 40 kg or 88 lbs at 5’8 tall. Her diet of choice: apple and tomatoes.

 Luisel Ramos 

 (image source: here)

 (image source: here)
Luisel Ramos, 21, died from a heart attack after stepping out of a runway show. Her diet of choice: lettuce leaves and diet coke. Her younger sister, Eliana Ramos, 18, also died a month before her death after suffering from the same condition.

Not One Size Fits All 

There may be standards of beauty sealed by those who call themselves 'experts' but at the end of the day what makes you beautiful is not because you fit into sizes 0-4. What we see on the runway are unrealistic expectations of how a modern woman should look. A real woman knows how to take care of herself- eats a balance diet and exercises regularly. She is empowered to make good decisions. And most of all she would not in any way harm her body just to satisfy other people's perception of beauty.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Valentine's Day for Singles

Valentine's Day is once again knocking at the door.

It's only not a big deal of a theme this weekend for retail stores or restaurants- the truth is, for twenty something singles this is an annual dilemma. For new couples this is one of the most opportunistic occasions to romanticise a budding love.

And most likely for long time lovers, who are past the honeymoon stage, this is the time to be more creative in pulling off something special what will make both feel like a teenager again- might as well bring back the spice they had for each other when they were dating for the first time.

The Anti-Cupid
There are people who hate Valentines Day as much as the Grinch does- telling that they don't seem to care- well, I think they are saying the half truth! Obviously, those who hate it the most are probably singled out just recently or had the most painful love story and haven't moved on ever since. Or simply put- they are haters.Who knows? They might soon change their minds once they fall in love again under the spell of Cupid's love potion no.13.

A long time ago I've never heard of this but now there are group of singles who organise parties and call it- Love Stinks- or the more straight forward- The Anti-Valentines Party. This is another way of crying out loud that being single sucks. Oh- what better way to not feel left out when couples are smooching in every corner?  

But this is absolutely sugarcoating pathetic-ness (let's say that's a real word) at its finest! 

Even though the chances of me being invited to these parties are higher- than being invited for a romantic candelight dinner for two, I still wouldn't go to these wear-only-black parties! Who wants to celebreate Halloween on February? You mourn for the loss of a person but please spare LOVE- it's immortal.

I may be single and had my heart broken, like what everybody goes through, but it doesn't mean I wanna play the victim when everybody's feeling lovey-dovey. Being single on Valentine's Day is not an excuse to feel sorry for myself, disassociate with my happy-in-a-relationship friends, curse on exes and shout that love sucks!

Yeah it's normal for us to make fun of ourselves when we feel miserable. This is a defense mechanism we do, so that we feel the blow of being alone, at a lesser extent. But I don't want to make a mockery out of love's sting. 

Love sure did hurt us at least once in our lives. But is it really that bad of an experience, that we have become losers/ lunatics to make Anti-Valentines Day something to look forward to?  

Or is Valentine's Day really important that we need to ensure no one is left out: so singles or non-singles can both be happy?

Misery loves company 

S.A.D or Single Awareness Day, not quite known to the dear the public, was declared an unofficial holiday for singles every February the 15th. The founders say that it doesn't mean that if you're single on Valentine's day- you have no right to be happy anymore. They encourage people without a Valentine's date to get together with their single friends, celebrate the joy of singlehood and shower each other with the works: flowers and chocolates or edible underpants

I get the tone that while the Anti-Valentines Party focuses on the negative sentiment of being loveless - however S.A.D is proactive or a better alternative for singles. 

Although the acronym associates perfectly with the common feeling that single men or women dread having on February 14th, which is sadness in the romantic point of view, it's really about empowering what its like to be single. 

For me its means to have fun and mingle a.k.a window shopping. No need to buy the lovely dress if you still have no use for it, can't afford one or you know there are still better designs waiting in other botiques. 

One for all- all for one 

The common notion about being single is that you are sad. Of course that's not true. Life does not  revolve around romantic love alone. You are single not because you have no choice, but the circumstances in your life right now are not yet ripe for you to make that choice. 

Having a great time with friends and family on Valentine's Day is fine. Go out of town or surprise your girl friends or mom a bouquet of flowers if you haven't done it yet. Do the unconventional. Treat people who have been good to you and make amends with an enemy.

Realistically, this may not be one of the greatest hits in your V-Day compilation of memories, especially if you are a hopeless romantic, but at least you don't have self pity written all over your face! 

Love is such a universal need for our survival. It comes in a variety and most complex of forms- so express it endearly to your loved ones this Valentines in any way you could.

Valentine's day works like a cliche-  making the non-comformist squeal and hate its cheesiness- but me- I don't mind. Love deserves to be celebrated even in the most outrageous way because I don't know if I'd be here without it. 

Happy Valentines Day!  
Feliz Día de los Enamorados! 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

It doesn't have to be that way

The pain.. is it all worth it in the end ?

Heartaches hurt the most.
Wounded feelings scrape its way to the soul.
Physical pain is bearable because bodies can heal itself,
but the Mind never forgets- cannot let go.

Hope is something that can be taken away  
brittled by unpleasant experiences and failed attempts.

The Mind is logical to believe in something called Faith.  
It blames anything: from the weather down to the bubble gum stuck under your shoe: like a child throwing tantrums- when it doesn’t get what it wants.

The Mind is a powerhouse in its fullest potential,
but flawed by its blinding ego;
thus suffering becomes inevitable. 

Loneliness silently kills people faster than cancer or AIDS. 
You can be living but you may be good as dead.  
And Hopelessness may whisper in your deepest corners: 

"You plan but nothing gets done."
"You love but no one stays forever. "
"You give your best but it’s not enough."

Grudges locked inside can make you crash and burn-
As they say, the rear view mirror is not to be obsessed about.
Look back for caution, but let it not be a distraction.

What you have passed through is distant and gone. 
Misery only haunts the restless- don't be trapped in yesterday’s worries.

Escape is not a permanent solution to problems which by nature are temporary.

No one ever comes out in this world alive anyway,
so why quit, when this is soon going to be over.

Your living body is only a gift and your soul it's caretaker.
Matter may be disposed but its essence lingers. 
In the realm of the invisible, guilt can cause unrest. 
Better to die trying- in vain, than leave beforehand quitting. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Success is the Sweetest Revenge

Reel and real. What do these blondes have in common?

Sure you’ve heard this line a couple of times but what does it actually mean? The movie Legally Blonde  is what comes first to mind.

The lead character, Elle Woods, was dumped by her boyfriend because she was too blonde and not ideal for his political career in the future.

Pathetic as Elle can be, she also applied for Harvard so she can win him back and to prove him wrong that she’s a dumb blonde. Little did Elle know that his ex-boyfriend just got engaged with another student, whose influential roots can boost his less than impressive track record. 

So there are two brick walls that are in front of Elle. First, his ex-boyfriend’s fiancé whose making her life miserable and second, surviving Harvard Law School. In real life, I don’t know what most people will do in this kind of situation. 

If you are truly a vengeful person and would like them to suffer, you might as well put the girl out of the picture- set her up for a crime or be as annoying as can be to destroy their relationship. 

But ideally, I guess all of us would want to take the higher road. Acceptance and forgiveness, although underrated at times, will really set you free of a vicious cycle of grudge, hate and rampage. 

Softie on the outside but a toughie on court

Elle is a fighter and she proved it the first instance by getting a high SAT score and overcoming people’s airhead stereotype of her.

But the difference she has with those who never stop fighting until havoc is served, is that she realised after being pathetic that not getting what you want is not the end of the world. 
Not all battles are worth fighting for, especially if it's a lose-lose situation. 

Isn’t there more pride and glory in graduating the top of her class rather than wrecking a made-for-convenience relationship? 

Elle may be a fictional character but her formula to success in reality is tried and tested, it works. 

Just like another blonde,  a real person in the name of Katie Piper- I think is one of the most courageous people out there who is currently teaching the world that not even an acid thrown at your face can make you an ugly person if what you have inside is already beautiful to start with.
The mastermind of the tragic acid attack was a boyfriend she just started dating- who’s paranoid that she’d tell the police that he sexually assaulted her.

Katie Piper at that time was a model and TV presenter.

How she looks is an important part of her job, and amongst other things like love and respect from her boyfriend- her angelic face was taken away from her. 

In May 2009, after a year of living in the shadows, she went public and told her story through a documentary film.  

More than spreading seeds of awareness, she’s now working on the Katie Piper Foundation. It's a charity dedicated to provide support to other burn victims with a vision of creating an advanced burn and scar management and rehabilitation clinic in the UK.

Some people have had a hard time feeling sympathy towards her because they think it’s her fault of choosing the wrong guy whom she only met in facebook. 

How can you go in a hotel with a guy and expect no intimacy to happen?  And to think they were only dating for 2 weeks. No doubt, she has placed herself in a situation to be raped.

But for me, I think it’s not my right to judge her; nobody deserves an acid attack for trusting too easily and attracting the wrong kind of guy.

A bad decision has been made but she chose to move on with her life. I admire her for capitalising on a treacherous event which to others may seem like death that needs no revival.

Her attacker’s motive on destroying her face might have been out of selfishness, so that so no man could ever want her again after him, but he was wrong in thinking that her physical appearance is her greatest asset.  

He did not take away anything important, in fact, what has now emerged is a more beautiful person. Her strength in facing adversity, positive attitude and dedication in helping other victims makes her success stand out in today’s superficial world.