Are Filipinos starting to embrace their natural beauty? Study thinks so

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 10 2017 01:49 AM | Updated as of Feb 10 2017 07:55 AM

Equating beauty with success isn't exactly a new notion.

But one study has found that Filipina women, particularly those based overseas, may have started to veer away from the practice of enhancing their outer appearance and instead have become comfortable with their own skin.

A study on Filipinos based in New Zealand found that beauty remains important, particularly to women who live in societies that do not much reward aging or a lack of physical allure. This is because most of the time, beauty allows one to have more access to luxuries, or even just better circumstances.

In their paper “Erasing/Embracing the marks of aging: Alternative discourses around beauty among Filipina migrants,” published in the academic journal Social Science Diliman, social scientists Michelle Ong and Virginia Braun said that practices to preserve or enhance beauty are considered “both a privilege and obligation” by migrant Filipinas. 

This is because they expect more opportunities for improvement abroad than back home, where people supposedly live in reduced circumstances.

“The body is taken to be the material evidence of a good life lived in New Zealand; youthful looks are framed as directly resulting from lifestyle changes afforded by migration,” Ong and Braun wrote.

Despite pressure to remain young and beautiful, however, Filipinos abroad have also said they resist or ignore pressure to maintain a conventionally beautiful body. 

“A number of participants endorsed a ‘natural’ look in old age (at least, after some point), implying an acceptance for wrinkles, grey hair, and changes in body shape and size,” Ong and Braun wrote.

The study says that the “alternative meanings” women place on beauty, such as a preference for a “natural” look as they age, help them reject conventional views on physical attractiveness. This shows that there is a potential for women and men to be more comfortable changing their standards of beauty.

The main hindrances to changing women’s tendencies prioritizing physical beauty include society’s typical expectations for women and consumerist ideas around body presentation, the study says.

Much debate has been brewing around existing beauty standards and their relation to success, exacerbated by the staging of the Miss Universe 2016 pageant in Manila.

Miss Universe Canada 2016 Siera Bearchell, for example, hit back at detractors who thought she was overweight.