Sunday, May 25, 2008

Are you the perfect Pinay?

“Paglaki ko, gusto ko malaki suso ko…kasi yan po ang maganda at hinahangaan.” (When I grow up, I want my breasts to be big because that is what is beautiful and admired.)

My jaw dropped, nearly down to my knees. Although I did not hear the child say it herself, it was both a shocking and an enlightening piece of statement for me, for the host, and for the guest. I watched an episode of Media in Focus on ANC two weeks ago. Hosted by Luchi Cruz-Valdez, she talked about “The Perfect Pinay” with several guests from the media, most notably Emily Abrera, the incumbent Chairman Emeritus of advertising agency McCann Erickson Philippines. Abrera related to Valdez the results of a research they did on little kids aged five to seven. They asked the kids a lot of questions, one of which was what they want to be when they grow up. That was when a young girl dropped the bomb at their feet.

What the little girl said was not even close to what she should have answered but it definitely gave us an inkling as to how advertising has corrupted the most innocent of minds. We are raising a generation that is heavily exposed to mass media advertising. Television, print, radio, and the web all carry different kinds of messages that a young person absorbs, consciously or unconsciously each day. Due to the recurring nature of mass media, messages are reinforced, causing people to believe in them after several constant repetitions.

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder but in reality, people generally have a common notion of what is beautiful and what is not. One of my teachers used to joke around saying, “If you don’t have good self-esteem, don’t look at the magazines. You’ll only get frustrated.” The beautiful image, the image of a “perfect Pinay” always presented by media is one who is fair-skinned, slim, booby, and flawless. No wonder people spend billions and billions of money on liposuction, breast enhancements, whitening products, and slimming pills just to fit the high standards of beauty that media has set. What the people don’t know and we probably never will is how much enhancement is being done behind the glamorous commercials and photo shoots. We will never know, for instance, how much of the pictures we see on the glossies are edited with photoshop or how the models were positioned against the camera to hide the wrong curves. So you see, the very industry that tries to promote the concept of a “perfect Pinay” is struggling to meet the standards of beauty, as well.

What I just don’t like about this whole distorted image of beauty is its effect on a child, like the child who was the inspiration for this article. Children are still at their formative years, trying to establish their own identity – trying to establish the kind of person they want to be. Exposing them to the image of beauty like the one currently projected by mainstream media will affect the way they want their own image to be. I wonder if in the future, we’ll see more people looking like they just popped out of a magazine. Even so, this view of beauty is so superficial I think God would complain that this is not the way He envisioned beauty to be. For such a deep word such as that being equated to merely being white, slim, booby, and flawless – oh my, we have a LOT of serious work to do.

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