It was the opening scene of a weekend children TV gag show. A boy was comfortably sitting in a bench… eyes closed… looking dreamy. From out of nowhere, a bespectacled girl, with teeth braces approached the boy. When the boy opened his eyes, he was ‘shocked’ of what confronted him. He even “passed” out. Similar scenes followed, sometimes, involving two or more boys…and always, they mocked at the “ugly” girl.
I am not fond of telenovelas, but I knew that he gag scenes clearly referred to that American TV show, “Ugly Betty” and its Filipino version, “I Love Betty La Fea” where an ugly woman had to try her best to be noticed, be recognized and was always subjected to constant mockery from people around her.
The show also dwelled on the perceived “fickle-mindedness” of a woman and her having a ‘changeable’ mind.
Perhaps, for some, the scenes look funny, entertaining, but for others, especially for a woman and mother like me, it is something that should be stopped for it gives televiewers, especially children, a wrong notion of what is beautiful, and what is ugly…
The scenes made me feel sad. I wonder what the show’s writers were trying to say, what kind of values are being instilled to the viewers, especially the children. And it was supposed to be a tribute to women… to celebrate women’s month.
Media plays a crucial role in our society. It educates us on world issues and informs us of important events all over the world. But the media is not always a positive influence; it can alter the way we feel about ourselves and our lives.
When we turn on the TV set, advertisements depict thin women and dictates how women should behave. Sometimes, women are being portrayed as sex object. When we open a magazine, images of thin women are everywhere. What we see and what we hear show a trademark on how women should look like and feel. The images put pressures on women, because it gives them the idea that thin is beautiful.
Media exposure makes women vulnerable. What the media projects affects the way women see themselves. If an overweight woman sees a thin model who dresses well, she would start to question her identity, her being. She might even feel depressed, seeing herself as a failure. This feeling would have an impact on her life and her relationship with people around her. Thus, plastic surgery has become a social fad. For those who can afford it, it becomes a second nature to have liposuction, breast implantation, nose lift, buttock augmentation…all sorts of plastic surgeries, designed to make one “beautiful”… or more attractive.
On the other hand, we hear sad stories of the bad effects of such surgeries and how the mental and emotional anguish the victims have to go through after they have subjected themselves to surgeries that failed.
Media is not the only culprit why some women feel bad about themselves. Sometimes, even our own partners (husbands, boyfriends) and family members, contribute to how we see ourselves. Or worst, we are the ones being unkind to ourselves.
This brings me back to another scene in one reality TV show.
The father, told her daughter’s boyfriend, “Huwag mong saktan si Melai. Ganyan lang ang mukha niyan, pero mahal ko yan.” (Don’t hurt Melai. Even if her face is like that, I love her…”
Even Melai, when asked why she doubts Jason’s sincerity in his intentions to her responded, “Kasi, Big Brother, maraming mga magagandang babae, bakit ako pa?” (Because, Big Brother… there are many beautiful women out there… why should he choose me?”
“Bakit, maganda ka naman ah…” (Well, you are beautiful….”
“Maganda naman ako, Big Brother, pero 50% lang….” (Yes, I am beautiful, Big Brother… but only 50%...”
On the positive side, there are women who are unperturbed by what the media projects them to look and act. They are the special women who, no matter what others say, are confident of who they are and what they can do for the betterment of this world.
Every day, I see such women. They are not that concerned about their weight, or their hair, or their skin. They are not bothered if they have flat nose. They don’t care if their legs are not that shapely… or if their skin is not flawless, or their breasts are not that big (who wants an extra size, anyway? My male friend once blurted out? He is a special kind of a man, I think).
These special women have the initiative to try and better themselves and build a better and healthier body that they can feel satisfied with. These are the women who believe that physical attributes alone do not make a woman beautiful, rather, it is a combination of many other qualities that make up the whole being of a woman.
What sets these confident women different from other women?
• Confident women are not know-it-all. They have their doubts and they make mistakes. They are far from perfect but they acknowledge their inadequacies and don’t dwell on them. They have good sense of humor. They put their problems on proper perspective, focusing on what they have done right, and not wasting on what they have done wrong.
• Confident women believe in themselves. They don’t try to suffocate others with their own ideas and beliefs. They are well informed because they read and learn and they respect their instinct and intuition. They realize that one doesn’t have to be an expert to believe in one’s own truths.
• Confident women don’t compare themselves to others. They appreciate their own strengths and accomplishments. They can acknowledge their own weaknesses without embarrassment. When something bad occurs, they turn it into a challenge, remembering to be grateful for the little things in life and their past accomplishments.
• Confident women know who they are. If they want something badly enough, they go for it! They know that it is not that easy, and they expect mistakes, blunders and failures; yet they know how to handle them. They learn from their mistakes and do not waste time torturing themselves over what “could have been.”
• Confident women don’t go with the tide. They don’t do things simply because others are doing them. They don’t say things because that’s what others think they should. They have an idea about something and are not worried or bothered if their ideas differ from that of the others.
• Confident women go out of their way to help others. They don’t confine themselves in their work. They always find a good reason to make others happy, by the little things they do.
• Confident women have time for themselves. They allot that time of the day they call their own. It is that time when they can just idle in bed, or in one corner of the house and relax. It could be the time for tending to their garden/plants, writing or reading, for organizing photo albums, reviewing old letters/notes…or simply listening to their favorite music.
• Confident women don’t stop learning. They believe that education is a lifetime endeavor. They find ways to enroll in courses or go for further studies. They continue to “study” and apply what they have learned.
• Confident women give importance to their families. They don’t stop communicating with their parents and siblings and kids. They remember special occasions… are thoughtful.
• Confident women are always smiling, because they are always thinking of positive, happy things of life. They acknowledge their priceless blessings.
• Confident women have hobbies. They go out of their way to develop their potential, talent and skills. They believe that using their God-given gifts takes them out from the doldrums of household chores, child-raring and other responsibilities to their partners and family members.
• Confident women take care of their health. They have good lifestyle. They exercise and watch what they eat.
• Confident women have strong faith in God. They trust their relationship and activities to a Higher Being.
Again, what makes a woman beautiful? Paris Hilton says, “If a woman is confident, she is sexy.”
I say, “if a woman is confident, she is beautiful!”
Do I feel confident… beautiful? Well, how I feel about myself is what really matters. Nobody can take that away from me.
And I believe that my being involved in the media, and my being a mother, have many other good reasons. That’s for me to further explore on… and hopefully, I could give and share more. # (Tess Superioridad Baluyos)
I would like to thank my Baha’I friend, Perla Somonod Daumar and the President of GA-PINGS, Ms. Emilia Andea, for inviting me as their speaker during their March 15 Convocation. It was an honor and a privilege to talk about “Women and Media.” The preparations opened my eyes and my heart to many other wonders of being a woman, and what else I can do, as a woman. Thank you, also to Misamis Oriental (Philippines) Governor Oscar Moreno and Vice Governor Nories Babiera and all the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. It was a rare opportunity for me to be personally interacting with you last Monday.