Ria Atayde grew up chubby and it was okay until she reached the secondary years in school, kung saan nagpapayatan daw ang magaganda n'yang kaklase sa Poveda.
Noon na siya nagsimulang mag-suffer sa tinatawag na body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), which webMD.com describes as a "distinct mental disorder in which a person is preoccupied with an imagined physical defect or a minor defect that others often cannot see. As a result, people with this disorder see themselves as 'ugly' and often avoid social exposure or turn to plastic surgery to try to improve their appearance."
Thankfully, hindi naman umabot si Ria sa pagpapa-retoke ng anuman sa kanyang mukha o katawan. But she did try getting thin. To no avail simply because her body was structured that way.
Surrounded by a loving support system and a love for science, na-overcome niya ang nasabing mental-health issue niya.
"At the start, I was so pressured to fit a certain mold. And then I realized, 'Wala talaga, e. This is really my body structure,'" pagbabalik-tanaw niya. "The most I can do is to stay fit. And that's when I kind of learn to embrace myself and my body more.
"Kasi if you look at my X-ray, my bones are huge talaga. Yeah, I have it there, my bones. I think I saved that as a reminder na no matter what I do I'm not gonna be stick thin and that's okey."
(Ria had spinal surgery in 2021 for herniated disc at tinago nga daw niyang souvenir and mga X-ray results niya that time.)
However, aminado si Ria that the journey to self-acceptance—flaw and imperfections included— wasn't easy. Kaya naman ayaw niya masyadong magmagaling sa bagay na 'yon nang mahingan siya ng payo para sa mga patuloy na nag-i-struggle magpapayat to "fit the mold."
"It's okey to not be completely happy with your body—but I hope you do figure out what it is that will make you embrace it even more," aniya. "Like I said, it took time for me to get to the place where I can say that I completely love my body and I could embrace it for what it is.
"But if I were to give a tip or anything, I think start with the little things," patuloy niya. "Like hydration, skin care... you know, maybe [taking care of] the more external things will lead you to changing whatever you might need to."
Paalala lang niya: "Just make sure that your blood chemistry is okey. I really think that's the most important, like you're okay medically. If you're okey medically, then you're fine. Learn the ins and outs of your body...'yon lang naman, e."
Mainam rin daw na armahan talaga ang sarili ng mga tamang kaalaman sa science.
"I love science. Like it's helped me through the whole process even more. Like learning about my body and like what makes me bloat? Like what makes me be alot more and all of that, you know. And I think it's about learning more about your body and focusing on the literal inside of it. And I think I that shines through after naman."
Dagdag payo pa niya, huwag umanong mag-crash diet.
"Don’t starve yourself because the bounce back is even worse. Crash diet is the worse. There is no short cut. It's a lifestyle change that you gonna have to do not just the diet like quick-fad diet type of thing. It can only work for so much. No instant fix."
Nang matanggap na raw completely ni Ria ang pagiging on the big side, mas naging health and wellness ang pokus niya at hindi ang pagpapapayat.
But we live a world na imbes na umangat ang kaisipan ng mga tao ay tila mas bumabalik sa pagiging crude. Kung noon ay mas polite pa ang pagpaparating ng anumang puna, ngayon ay mas tahasan at maaanghang. With the advent of social media, nakahanap ng pagtataguan ang mga anonymous users para lang makapang-bash at makapag-body shame.
Hindi na-spare si Ria sa mga ito. She's been called names and was described unjustly online
Ani Ria, unbothered naman siya because those shamers don't matter in her life. It's just that hindi niya ma-gets.
"Like ano 'yong point? You know, I always see this online and I always hear about this na when you talk to somebody, dapat you only talk about things that they can change within five seconds. So like if there’s...may tinga o kung tikwas 'yong buhok... mga ganu'n lang. But if it's things they can't change in five second, bakit pa? What's your point?" dire-diretsong lahad niya.
"Is it kind, is it necessary? Parang hindi naman. So, ano 'yong tina-try mong i-achieve? Does it make you happy to make others unhappy?"
In this regard, natutuwa si Ria na nakakuha siya ng ally with White Castle Whisky, na kinuha siyang Calendar Girl 2023. Inclusivity in beauty kasi ang overall campaign thrust ng WCW at sakop doon ang body positivity advocacy ni Ria.
Gone are the days na mga payat lang ang kinukuhang Calander Girls.
But still, nakatanggap pa rin ng bashing si Ria at handa naman daw siya emotionally sa ibabato sa kanya ng mga shamers na hindi makaka-gets ng punto ang ina-adbokasiya nila. She can handle them.
Mas affected pa siya sa ibang kagaya niya who also suffer the same ordeal na pinagdaanan at pinagdadaaana pa rin niya sa mga bashers at body shamers.
"To the people who are affected by body shamming, kaya ninyo yan," pambo-boost niya ng confidence. "I know it seems easier to say but it took me so long to get to a point where I could say I love body and I embrace it for what it is.
"So, take the baby steps that you need to take. Hydrate, maybe. Start with that. Maybe start counting calories a little bit, you know. Like instead of eating a whole box of pizza, maybe try with two [slices], you know. Just do things to make your body stay healthy. You don’t have to look a certain way, you just have to feel a certain way.
"And if it's people's comments that you're affected about, like I said earlier, only the opinion of those who matter to you should matter to you. Tune out the noise. Just focus on yourselves and focus on the people that actually matter and that love you because everything else doesn't count."
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