"Should I post this photo in public? Whatcha' think?"
I remember asking this question so seriously to my artist manager in Manila as if it was a matter of life or death. I looked at the photo one more time on my phone screen and asked again, "POST or NOT? What do you think?"
"POST! I think this photo is awesome! It's so YOU. Raw, strong and genuine. But still. It's up to you though... if you'd be okay with the possibility of some of your Filipino followers judging it. You know how it is here. So it's your call. We got your back whatever you decide," my manager responded.
This is one of the many artistic photos I shot when I was in Manila for my website JAYMEE WINS. Out of all the lay-outs, this pose came out to be the most controversial on whether to post or not for a couple of reasons.
First, I am topless and my boobs look small. Second, my body is not ripped and cut. Third, it's so simple that I'm wearing almost no make up and no accessories. Fourth, it's very minimally retouched. And fifth, my middle finger is up.
Don't get me wrong. I'm absolutely happy with this photo regardless of all that. But the fact remains that most of my social media followers are Filipinos... and I know the harsh reality of how judgmental Pinoys can be, which is what triggered me to leave the showbiz industry to begin with. The pressure to appear wholesome and perfect is TOO MUCH that it's way too suffocating for the soul.
As I mulled over on whether to publicize this pic or not, it got me disturbed.
If I were to not consider the Philippine culture, the open-minded Westerners would totally love this... my bravery to pose one month post-radiation where my body is not looking at its best, the minimal make up and retouching that shows how comfortable I am in my own skin and don't aspire for perfection, the raw emotions in my smile with the middle finger that shows my ironic "funny yet bitchy" personality and the overall "I'm happy I don't give a fuck about cancer or any negative bullshit" attitude. Most Westerners would get it and applaud.
But not the conservative Filipinos... okay, maybe not all, but some. They would judge it by face value... small boobs, no longer as hot as she used to be, trying too hard, cancer girl trying to get attention, immoral, notorious, desperate, and the list can go on and on.
Why are we so obsessed with perfection and wholesomeness anyway? Is it a form of escapism wherein we are in denial of our own problems, issues and imperfections that we seek some perfect image to voluntarily fool ourselves of the truth that all of us DO have flaws, life can be tough, it's normal to feel angry or sad and not everyone is genetically gifted or has the time and privilege to go to the derma and gym everyday to look like a centerfold model? That emotions, sometimes, cannot be contained and releasing or expressing them is the only way to deal with it?
Are people simply projecting their own unattainable fantasy of perfection towards the popular icons that's why we choose to remain in denial of their flaws? Or are they simply projecting their own lack of self-love which is why they are so overly critical and expect perfection towards the world?
Why can't it be okay to not be perfect, express how you truly feel and still be accepted anyway? Why does the society try too hard to pressure everyone to be put together and wholesome when it doesn't really exist? When are we ever really gonna grow up and confront the realities that NO ONE IS PERFECT and LIFE ISN'T EITHER?
Look. I'm not advocating that we all should just curse, air out our dirty laundry in public and dwell on the not-so-good things. But rather, own up to the flaws, embrace raw emotions, acknowledge hardships, confront issues, support one another, celebrate life's craziness and be happy anyway. In short, joyfully accept the beautiful imperfections of being HUMAN.
In the end, I posted the photo with full conviction along with a caption, "To cancer, menopause, and all the sickness, bullshit and negativity in the world... you deserve a finger. FUCK YOU I'M WINNING."
I'm prepared for the consequences of probably losing some followers, getting labelled as bad, evil or desperate, and losing some potential endorsements for no longer fitting the wholesome peg that Filipinos are so crazy about. But it doesn't matter. SO BE IT. I will not apologize for being me, HUMAN and keeping my emotions real.
"I'd rather be hated for who I am, than be loved for who I am not," my favorite rockstar, Kurt Cobain once said. And I live by that truth especially now as I am on my second lease on life.
After posting this photo on Instagram and Facebook and writing this blog, I feel this sense of liberation. FINALLY. I no longer have to keep up with the wholesome Brady bunch. I am ME. Imperfect, with emotions, HUMAN and real. FINALLY. I am free. What a WINNING feeling. :)
(NOTE: Kudos to Nice Print Photo c/o Stephen Pechon for this photo taken at The Concepts Room Studio along with Isabelle Silverio Dee for my make up and Renz Joshua Esguerra for styling.)
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