Beauty slips: Grab it while you can
By Pennie Azarcon-dela Cruz, Executive Editor Sunday Inquirer Magazine LOOKS, some people say, is nature’s way of giving you a good hand. Excellent genes help, but are no guarantee. What if you have some recessive genes that suddenly decide to make an appearance three generations later? Which explains how two people of normal height can sometimes be blessed with a midget child. Being born to wealth might give you an edge when you decide on cosmetic surgery later, but good looks are never a monopoly of the rich. In fact, a sociologist friend once pointed out, the reason beauty pageants are so popular among the urban poor is that they consider good looks a singular blessing, a sort of sign from above that they’ve been given a rare opportunity to better their lot so they should go hop to it. If you can’t engineer good looks and they suddenly land on your lap via a fair and tawny-headed daughter, doesn’t that say that the gods have smiled on you at last, and your luck just might change for the better? Why not expose the girl then to beauty pageants where any number of rich unattached guys might be on the panel of judges and on the prowl for their girl de jour? Again, says this sociologist friend, it’s not only the colonial mindset that makes fair skin and skin whitening creams a winner. It’s aspirational. Among the poor, fair skin unblemished by insect bites, wounds and scars is kutis-mayaman, the skin of the privileged lot, and isn’t that what most people aspire to be? These days, with shelves stocked full with skin whitening creams, unguents and lotions, and with scores of botox and lipo clinics even at the mall, it’s almost a crime not to look good. Of course for those of us who have never been beauty queen material, the bigger crime is not realizing what we had until it was gone. Let me explain: There we were, college friends flushed with memories of the lean old days when making tusok-tusok the fishballs passed for lunch, and our svelte figures showed how we could have made a fortune of this enforced streetfood diet had we only marketed it under some fancy scientific-sounding name. “Look, look at that waistline,” Rina said, pointing to a mid-‘70s picture that we had spread out on the dining table. We had brought pictures from our college days for this school paper reunion that we were planning to attend, ostensibly to provoke nostalgia and help us identify friends and classmates missing in action. Deep in our scheming hearts however, we thought the pictures were a handy shield against the inevitable joshing about weight gained and cheekbones lost, the cruel prattle that fill in the first awkward moments when we turn virtual strangers into familiar faces again. Yup, we wanted to reprise that Winston Churchill- haughty English lady encounter we once read about. Haughty Lady, turning up her nose at the liquor-sodden Churchill: “Sir, you are drunk!” Churchill (with a drunken slur): “And you, my dear lady, are ugly. Tomorrow after I sleep this off, I shall be sober. But you’d still be ugly!” Similarly, what we wanted to say as we bandied around the ‘70s shots that showed us in the full glory of youth was: “Sure we’ve gained a few pounds, but as these pictures will show, we’ve always had good bone structure, smooth skin and slim ankles. A few sessions at the gym and we’d be as good as new.” Should make us feel better, right? Well, not exactly. Because, looking hard at the pictures, it suddenly occurred to us that yes, once upon a time when we were young, we looked good. Probably not movie star gorgeous, but hey we were no Ugly Betty. Probably because we were single and didn’t have to worry about the mortgage, tuition or the leaking radiator, we had unfurrowed brows, unfettered smiles and the clear-eyed look of the young who think that the world was just waiting yonder, for us to tame and claim. “Why, why didn’t someone tell us we had the figure to wear a bikini back then?” groused Ida, whose most daring swimsuit these days is a cap-sleeved t-shirt paired with loose puruntong shorts. “Sure we couldn’t afford a bikini back then, but at least, we could have flaunted that it was only modesty -- not layers of subcutaneous fat-- that prevented us from showing more skin,” Rina added. “Talaga naman, no justice in this world,” she added with a heavy sigh. “When we had the figure to gorge on sweets and rich foods, we couldn’t afford it. Now that we have the money, we also have grout, uric acid, diabetes and high blood.” As for me, reviewing the pictures where I might have passed for a Miss Talipapa runner-up only made me appreciate my mother’s wisdom belatedly. Whenever we wanted to hurl our newly-developed pictures against the wall because we spotted a double chin or a grimace, the good woman would caution us: “Itago ninyo yan. Balang araw, gandang-ganda na kayo dyan! (Keep those pictures. Someday, you’d realize just how good you look in those shots.”) Alas, that day was upon us that prickly night we inventoried our past and decided that, given such natural forces as gravity, it would be downhill from hereon. Whipping out our trusty digical, we toasted the night, laughed away our decrepit fears, and clicked the shutter. “There, we must remember to keep those shots,” Rina said. “Oo nga,” agreed Ida. “Balang araw, gandang-ganda na tayo diyan.” But of course, I said. “At least ngayon, me ipin pa tayo!" Check out the June 15 issue of the Sunday Inquirer Magazine.
TrackBack URL: http://blogs.inquirer.net/cgi/mt/mt-tb.cgi/6372