MANILA - Iza Calzado is considered as one of the country's most beautiful faces, but beneath her seemingly perfect exterior lies a constant struggle with body image.
In a powerful letter on lifestyle website Metro.Style, the award-winning actress opened up about her path to self-acceptance in a beauty-obsessed industry.
Growing up, Calzado said she had a "destructive love-hate relationship" with her body.
"As a child, I never felt enough. I grew up in an unstable environment with a beautiful mother who was dealing with her own mental health challenges... and a father who was very loving but was not always present and had weaknesses of his own such as women and gambling," she said.
In her younger years, she was diagnosed with depression that led to continued weight gain.
"It was also around this time when I started hearing comments such as 'Sayang, maganda ka sana pero mataba ka,'" she recalled.
Feeling miserable about gaining weight, which at one point reached to 220 pounds, she resorted to starving herself and taking diet pills.
"Because the motivation was shallow, I ended up doing stupid things just to get results," she said.
When she entered showbiz, the tall, dusky beauty admitted going under the knife for her excess skin after her weight loss.
"I had previously gone through breast enhancement injections, so a tummy tuck and thigh lift were called for this time to address the loose skin," she said.
Under the public's watchful eyes, Calzado revealed she felt more insecure and constantly compares herself to other women.
"From the outside looking in, I was hot. I landed major endorsements and magazine covers, and was celebrated for my body. Deep inside, I felt like a fake," she said.
She finally came to terms with her insecurities in her 30's.
"It was a wake-up call to start accepting my body instead of pushing it to reach unrealistic goals at the expense of my health," she said.
Calzado, now an advocate of self-love and body positivity, wants to tell young people they are more than their bodies.
She concluded her message with a thoughtful reminder, "Perhaps the journey is far from over, and I have so many things I still need to address within myself to help me become a better version of myself. So I keep my head up and continue marching on, arming myself with self-love, compassion, and acceptance. But today, as I share my story, I can truly tell myself, 'I am enough'.”
She got married in December to her long-time partner, British entrepreneur Ben Wintle, in a private ceremony at a resort in Palawan.