It can’t be helped that we tend to view things from the perspective of the majority. This is what works, this is what should be, this is the accepted practice, this is the norm. The standard.
It also can’t be helped that despite what we know better, sometimes we succumb and view ourselves from this same perspective. Am I—the clothes I wear, the things I accomplish, the talents I possess, the company I keep—good enough, from this perspective?
And therein lies all the self-doubt and insecurity and failure to see things properly. We become so engrossed in what they say we should know, not what we already know. When we pit ourselves against others in a game of Who’s Better, we never win.
I’ve experienced this so many times growing up that I can’t even count the incidents. I’m a bit like Mike Ross of Suits, however, in that I can remember in vivid detail the littlest details from the past, all the way from when I was three. Let’s go as far back as pre-school.
I was the youngest, and everyone else was painting their eggshell mosaic in the basic shades that came with the watercolor palette. I mixed some colors in mine, so my mosaic looked different. Though my work got hung on the bulletin board, I resorted to using basic colors for the next project to make them stop calling me weird. Another time when I was seven, the teacher taped a “King David” card on the blackboard, with a dozen random words on the other side. We were to pick a word that describes King David and place it around his name. I raised my hand, got my turn, and picked “ruler.” I was promptly laughed at and told that rulers are school supplies.
I could go on and on, but the point is, the more I tried back then to be on the same plane as the rest of them, the more I felt the disconnect. It was quite the struggle, trying to find your place while trying to not be out of place, as you may have felt too.
Still reveling in this lovely weather. What better way to do so than with layered knits and boots?
A friend and I would often talk about the tyranny of choice—when we come upon a fork in the road, we are barraged with a million questions: If I choose this, what would be the opportunity cost? What would I miss out on? If I choose the other, what would I regret? Which one is the right path, the perfect choice?
I got into thinking about this yesterday at a lunch hosted by a friend who was leaving for Canada to continue his Masters. Soon, another friend is moving there to explore his options. Chalking them up to other friends who have been pursuing their chosen paths elsewhere in the world—in New York, in London, in Paris, I thought about the dreams they once shared with me that are now coming true, the challenges they are now encountering and overcoming, the successes they are now enjoying. The actions they have taken, whose consequences have led them to where they are right now.
I also got into thinking about my own choices, my what if’s and if only’s in life. The person I dreamed of becoming when I was younger and the one I am right now, the paths I’ve taken that didn’t quite align with one another, the dissonant and unfocused thoughts within me that manifested outwardly. There were just too many options!
I guess I’m what American psychologist Barry Schwartz calls in his book The Paradox of Choice, a maximizer. Simply put, a maximizer tends to overthink choices and overanalyze consequences. They like to consider each and every alternative and are worried about making the wrong choices. (The opposite of this is a satisficer, who makes a choice and sticks with it without looking back and worrying that there might be something better.) As a result of being a maximizer, I tend to always have realizations in hindsight: had I picked a different set of orgs in school, or hung out with a different set of people, or chosen a different course of study altogether, it would’ve vastly altered the landscape in which I move today. These thoughts aren’t imbued with hapless regret, mind you; I’m just really fascinated by the impact of one single choice. Knowing this has helped me become more focused and keep my goals aligned these days.
One of my favorite authors, Malcolm Gladwell, talks about how the diversity of people’s identities and tastes gives way to this explosion of choice just as well. He was referring to food marketing, how we can’t always explain what we want, and how there isn’t one Platonic—perfect and universal—way to prepare a dish. But it also applies to everything else. We have so many choices because we are all so different, and we have embraced this diversity more so today than ever. In the past, people simply became what their parents were. Options for what to buy, where to go, which course to study, when and whom to marry, etc. were as limited as the exposure they had of the world outside their boundaries. Now our world is bigger. The forks in the road have more branches. It can be overwhelming, especially with the variety of choices available to us these days. But so long as we know what it is we want, we should be able to make the right ones. ♥
It’s only a week before CloseUp Summer Solstice, the first music festival of its kind to happen here in Manila. If you’ve got your tickets and your date(s) but still haven’t figured out what to wear, here’s one of three outfit suggestions I’ve come up with. A hat to keep your hair in place amid the frizz-inducing heat and breezy clothes you can groove in.
It’s the top I wore here, the hat I wore in the last outfit here, and the same shorts and accessories that I wear, well, just very often. What I’m doing with this trilogy is to mix and match pieces I already own—you could do the same, check out your closet for anything that might work so you can save your shopping money for next time.
I’ve kept makeup and accessories just as fuss-free. Just enough to make a statement without having to worry about them while singing and dancing to the beats. After all, you’re there to enjoy the music, not to flaunt your entire wardrobe. Heh.
My current favorite: wedge sneakers! Skechers named it Skch +3 for the added three inches to your height. I’ve always professed my liking for boots and for wedges—boots with wedges hidden inside them? Yes, please. Especially for a music festival, where you’ll want to stand tall and you’ll need to be in comfy footwear at the same time.
Let me know what you think! Or if you have questions you want to ask me about style, feel free to write. Click here. :) Check back tomorrow for my second outfit idea!
We had no plans of weighing in on the recent controversy involving FHM Philippines' March issue, but while uploading these photos for just another fashion post, we were reminded of it by word association. Colored background, black and white… It might've been in the back of our heads all this time, as an issue that's close to home for us both. So what the heck, let's throw Lookbook captioning out the window for a moment and throw in our two cents.
Unless you’ve been in hibernation, you probably know that the magazine’s original cover this month featured British-Filipina actress Bela Padilla posing for the camera in a swimsuit, surrounded by five dark-skinned Filipinas in blackface who are either looking down despondently or looking up in awe at this fair-skinned beauty who is “Stepping out of the shadows” (the caption). Guess we don’t need to elaborate on the message this cover clearly sends out. Following a slew of comments from offended netizens, the men’s magazine has recalled the cover and released one with the photo and caption replaced.
All should be well and good now, except it quite isn’t. Because this isn’t the first time we Filipinos have displayed ignorance and insensitivity regarding this, and it probably won’t be the last. Not while the people involved admit outright that they see nothing wrong with blackface, and do not regret having participated in it. Not while again and again, TV shows portray characters in blackface who would be maltreated, ridiculed and hated just for being dark, while becoming lighter-skinned would bring them a better life. Not while we’re okay with how newspapers and magazines continue to paint non-black models black for the sake of art or advocacy without realizing or considering the impact the photos would have, regardless of the accompanying text’s intentions. Not to mention the comments on blog posts about the issue that go along the lines of, “Things are blown out of proportion. What’s so racist about that cover? What’s wrong with painting them black?”
What makes it ultimately tragic is the irony of it all—how we as a people have been victims of white supremacy and racial discrimination for centuries, and yet we ourselves have been participating in it, knowingly, willingly and unabashedly.
Look at Charice. Immense talent, charm, dedication, but with looks that don’t fit the bill as far as Filipino audiences are concerned. She’s been trying to make it in the local music industry but nobody here would give her a break, preferring the mestizos and mestizas with less than stellar vocal pipes. But when Ellen Degeneres gave her a break and the western world embraced her, “Oh, she’s world-famous now, I’m so proud to be Pinoy!”
When I was younger, I auditioned for a TV project. After my turn, I was told flat out by the casting panel, “You’re really good and we want to get you, but the audiences will want something else.” They ended up casting a pretty Caucasian who couldn’t act or memorize lines. The project eventually bombed. Rejection is part of the industry I work in, and it would’ve been fine each time it was because I screwed up or wasn’t right for the part. But what stung was each time that it was because I’m not the typical Pinoy standard of beauty: porcelain skin, aquiline nose, bright-colored eyes.
So when I got to work for a teen magazine and then as producer for TV shows, I made the most of the opportunity: since everyone else was already pitching the standards, I made sure Pinay models and local talent weren’t ignored—those who weren’t just book-worthy because of a foreign-sounding last name or paper-white complexion, but models who actually knew how to pose and project, whose faces were actually for modeling. Talents who actually had talent other than smiling about their easy-earned stardom.
We get to talk often with teens and young adults about their personal issues, and colonial mentality and the insecurities it brings is one that affects us most. We’re happy to notice the changes for the better: morenos and morenas taking the international fashion world by storm, global artists of Pinoy descent proud of their roots, among others. But with something as recent as the cover photo brouhaha, it’s obvious we have a long way to go. We’ll just have to keep doing the little things we can until we get there.