MANILA – “Your worth is not defined by a number on a scale or in a label.” Plus-size model Kat Gumabao made this statement as she encouraged women to be comfortable in their own skin.
Gumabao, sister of actor Marco and volleyball player Michelle, recently joined Melbourne Fashion Week Plus, dubbed as Australia’s first plus-size fashion festival.
(READ: Meet the plus-size model sister of Michelle Gumabao)
She saw a casting call for the fashion show on Instagram, and she asked if she could audition even if she is not based in Australia.
“It was amazing!” she recalled in an e-mail interview with ABS-CBN News on Thursday. “The energy and positivity of everyone there was a very nice change. I was surrounded by over a hundred women genuinely promoting body positivity. And everything about it was something I wanted to take back with me.”
Her experience at MFW+ made her realize even more how the Philippines is “way behind” when it comes to the modeling industry. She noted that Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States are more open to accepting models of different sizes.
“We are not as bold, not as diverse and not as open as to how Melbourne, UK and US are… They have women sizes 16 to 22 on covers of their magazines,” she said, adding, “I don’t know when the Philippines will start being open to that kind of change. I hope soon.”
She went on to stress the important role of brands and the media in representing plus-size women in various platforms.
“They need to be braver… It will never change if brands refuse to change their marketing collaterals and put diverse images on their promotional materials. The image on bigger women will never change if the media will continue to say that skinny is beautiful,” she said.
“Everyone should be advocating health. Healthy is beautiful and health comes in different shapes and sizes.”
‘Not necessarily fat’
Gumabao has been a plus-size model in the country for almost five years. On top of these, she is also a talent manager and a makeup artist.
Debunking common misconceptions about plus-size models, she said: “Plus-size models are models that have body shapes that do not belong to the ‘standard or normal’ sizes dictated by clothing brands. [They] are not all necessarily fat.”
“Everyone has fat in their body. This is the biggest misconception, [that] plus-size equals fat. No, pwedeng bigger hips, bigger thighs, etc. Pwedeng due to fat, [pero] pwedeng ‘yun lang talaga katawan niya,” she explained.
Gumabao admitted that it has not been an easy journey for her, saying that her biggest challenge was “getting society to embrace and accept the fact that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.”
“Getting jobs here is a bit hard kasi not all brands think may market ang plus-size, kaya walang budget si marketing to promote it. Or plainly dahil they don’t carry the size,” she said.
(READ: Pia lauds first plus-size Miss Peru contestant)
Now a stronger and more confident woman, Gumabao hopes to score more projects both in the Philippines and abroad, and be an inspiration to women who have been bullied and mocked because of their weight.
“Go for your dreams. No matter what obstacles come your way, glorify God always. He will make your dreams come true,” she said.
“Beauty is fleeing. Looks, body and everything physical fade… It’s really what’s inside that counts.”