In honor of International Women’s Month this March, I’m proud to have been asked to be part of Guilty & Proud, a campaign by Queen City Plus. This movement champions body positivism and self-love in Cebu.

Guilty and Proud - PATTY by Kurt Fick
Photography by Kurt Fick / Shot on location at UVNS

Queen City Plus is the on-screen journal of Bea Evardone, herself a body positive and self-love advocate. A fellow Theresian few years my junior, I’ve always admired the tenacity of this lady ever since our elementary days when she would be running around campaigning to be student body president. Over time, we found ourselves working more together.

She was there one particular afternoon when I was lamenting to some people about having endured yet another body shaming remark. Little did I know she was already in the stages of planning Guilty & Proud, which she invited me to join.

I knew a lot of people at the photo shoot, but it was a complete eye-opener to realize that all these women I thought I knew—these amazingly beautiful women—also had to contend with having to live up to society’s standards. Reading their stories, posted every day on the Facebook page, was equal parts inspiring and intimidating, because while it was reassuring to know I was not alone after all, I felt my story did not live up to their journeys.

But this is not a competition. We are sisters united in the vision of raising awareness for body shaming, because no, it is not okay to just randomly throw out “You’re so fat now,” and other remarks that attack people for their appearances and choices.

Eventually, I found the heart and the right words. Here is what I have to say.

In medias res—Latin for ‘into the middle of things’—is a narrative that starts not at the beginning, but somewhere in the middle of the story.

In this case, my journey begins in medias res with a beautiful white gown with a daring plunge right down the front.

It wasn’t for my wedding, no. It was for a photoshoot celebrating something that stands for women’s rights. I felt I was making a statement that flaunting my curves does not make me less of an advocate for gender equality. I looked fine as hell and I knew it.

Then came the negative remarks. A stranger on Instagram commented that my dress, while showing off my cleavage, might as well be pointing to my vagina. An acquaintance took it upon herself to actually download the photo and send it as an e-mail to her friend and my former colleague, writing, “Maayo pa’g nag backless nalang siya kay wala siya’y yototch,” (She should have just worn a backless [dress] because she doesn’t have breasts) in the subject title.

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