In the End

I was having a touchpoint with my boss when I got the news. She received a text message from another manager… about a Linkin Park member committing suicide. She knew I liked Linkin Park because it was only yesterday that she approved my half-day PTO, which I specifically scheduled for July 28th, the date of the Blinkin Park Concert (Blink 182 + Linkin Park). So, together, we did a search on her browser and found out that it was Chester Bennington – and it was suicide by hanging.

My boss seemed to be saddened by the news, too. She asked me if I knew Chris Cornell from Soundgarden and shared that she enjoyed their music and got the chance to watch them live. She said that it (suicide among artists) was happening too often. Then, awkwardly, we had to wipe tears from the corner of our eyes.

I’ve loved Linkin Park since high school, when most of the boys wore those dark polo shirts in salute of the group’s taste in fashion, despite the sticky Philippine heat. I borrowed my husband’s (then boyfriend) CD of Hybrid Theory and I later gifted him with Reanimation and Meteora. I never had a loud, raspy, screaming voice but for karaoke, I still sang all the Chester parts in their popular songs. I knew the rap, too, but often let my husband handle the Mike Shinoda sections.

I grew up with their music. I still put them on if I want to relax (yes, screaming and rapping is relaxing for me). Their music has evolved through the years but it still sounds pretty awesome… and I was truly looking forward to finally watching them perform live.

Chester’s gone though. Linkin Park as I know and love is no more. I mourn with his family and friends and once again, I mourn with everyone who lost a loved one to depression and suicide…

Strangely, hauntingly, below lyrics from my favorite Linkin Park song will never sound the same again:

“But in the end, it doesn’t even matter…”

R.I.P. Chester Bennington (1976-2017)

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Self-Image and Little Miss Philippines

When I was a child, I believed that I was beautiful – both inside and out. I wanted to compete in a popular pageant for young girls called “Little Miss Philippines” on a noon time variety show called “Eat Bulaga.” For some reason, I knew in my heart that I would crush it but I wondered why no one really advocated for me to join. That’s when it started… Between 5 and 7 years old, I began to question if I was seen by others as beautiful.

Fast forward to high school. Again, I found myself yearning to be nominated for a chance at the school beauty pageant. I waited for four years to be asked if I was interested but nothing happened. This was when it dawned on me – I just physically did not fit traditional standards of beauty.

It was also in high school that my self-image began its journey into distortion. For the first time in my life, I was told that I could be skinnier. So, at some point, I skipped lunch for a year to lose weight. Somehow, I started associating beauty with skinny (unfortunately, media and Philippine culture do too much to reinforce this). I was miserable and yes, I did stop believing I was beautiful.

Then, through college and through my first jobs, people kept telling me: I was gaining weight, I was getting fat. Even if my boyfriend (now husband) and best friends kept telling me I looked great, guess who I listened to? Guess what I saw every time I saw my reflection or looked at a recent photo of myself? I saw myself as overweight and unattractive.

The funny thing is… whenever I look back at those older photos now, I get so confused – why were people calling me fat? Why was I so convinced that I was fat? More importantly, why did it matter so much? As an example of what I mean when I say distorted self-image, take a look at the pic collage below. From the 4th photo onward, I’ve looked at each photo in the past and thought I looked fat due to either some feedback from the time or my own corrupted view of myself and yet, when I see these pictures now, I think: my BMI may not have been perfect but how come when I looked at these in the past, all I saw was weight I had to lose?

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After giving birth, breastfeeding helped keep the weight off for a few months. Then, my milk supply ran out and soon, I became the heaviest I’ve ever been in my life. Except this time, losing weight is physically and logistically not as easy.

I’ve been avoiding posting pictures of myself. If I do post something, I carefully choose what makes the cut, fearful that I’ll be judged. I have deleted comments about my weight before.

I’m trying really hard to lose weight again. And this time, I want to do it not to avoid getting hurt by what others think or say. I want to do it for health reasons and without regard for how skinny society wants me to be. Whether or not I succeed, I want to feel beautiful again. Deep inside, I know she’s still there – the little girl who loved and believed in herself enough to think she can win “Little Miss Philippines.” I have to find her. Because no one else can advocate for me better… than me.