WITH the current times demanding serious conversations about issues in equality and empowerment in social media, a young woman took it upon herself to pose and post a piece of her mind on body positivity.
Last April 5, Cebuana Cherizar Maxine Magat posted a series of beach photos of herself in a black two-piece bikini. She posted the photo along with a letter to the “Fat Filipina Girl.”
“Summer is here and I just want to tell you: Your body is perfect the way it is. Your body is not a fetish. Your body is not something you need to change. Your body isn’t for other people’s pleasure. Your body is yours and only you decide what to do with it. Just because you weigh more than other girls doesn’t lessen your value as a living, breathing human being,” her letter read.
She continued: “Remember that the word FAT is not an insult but a describing word. You’re fat, I’m fat. Own it. The only standard of beauty you should feel like you need to live up to is your own standard, not theirs.”
Thousands of netizens appreciated the lesson she imparted in her post.
Magat had the funny feeling that her post, about loving one’s body despite insecurities and people’s unfriendly retorts, would bring netizens to share and connect to her story.
Her posts about body positivity, which started on Instagram and received varied reactions on Facebook, were actually her last step over years of journey toward self-acceptance.
As @cherry.esque on Instagram, 20-year-old Magat has over 22,000 followers. She posts sexy photos of herself in bikinis and other sexy outfits. Since December 2017, she has posted close to 60 photos on Instagram. Only two of them received less than a thousand likes.
But her viral Facebook post opened new possibilities for her. Magat is now a freelance plus-size model.
When her April 5 post received its first thousand shares, she started to get nervous.
“Because the bad comments started coming in... But despite the bad comments I was getting, I decided to keep it up.”
Among the many negative comments and messages the communication student received, one stuck out: “Stop glorifying obesity.”
“My message was clearly not about obesity at all,” said Magat. “I’ve heard it all before. There’s nothing that you can tell me that’s new. I’ll come up with the comeback when you come up with something original.”
Nevertheless, Magat added an additional note on her viral Facebook post: “I AM IN NO WAY PROMOTING OBESITY. I promote SELF LOVE. Self love / body acceptance is for mental health so we can move forward from trauma and bad experiences then move forward to taking care of our bodies. You can’t take care of your body if you hate it, believe me.”
Her favorite comeback to people calling her fat is that being fat is not the worst thing a person could be.
As a budding influencer, she said that although some people ridicule her for what she stands for, she is comforted by the knowledge that her image inspires young girls, and even men, to love their body.
“Girls from 12 to 40 years old, they come to me and tell me that the post inspired and helped them,” said Magat.
Magat also revealed that the photo of herself in black bikinis was also a liberating moment. It was the first time she wore a bikini in a public place.
Her resolve to advocate for body positivity came from a harrowing moment in her young life.
She detailed how she had always been bullied simply because she was a plus-size woman. Some people keep telling her how she would look so much better if she were thinner.
Magat said she eventually went to the gym; however, the experience didn’t do her any good.
The plus-size beauty said that although she was losing weight, she was also dropping some of her classes and almost developed an eating disorder.
“I was starving myself and I started to fear food,” she said.
Magat later discovered that she was showing signs of anorexia. She also got depressed.
But however dark the situation got, she said that she persevered and helped herself out of the rot. She did it for her mental health.
“You can’t protect your body if your mental health is deteriorating,” she said.
From all the bullying she received, she said, “All their insults are stale to me.”
Insulting words don’t make her crumble anymore. After years of dealing with them, she even developed three ways to deal with harsh criticisms: ignore it, address it directly, or give the bully a compliment.
Magat said she learned this from another woman on Instagram, who is also being bullied for her size.
“She responded to her bullies by complimenting them. It’s genius because her bullies actually felt bad. They apologized to her,” said Magat. “Evil begets evil. If they bully you and you bully them back, it becomes a cycle.”
Magat said that she draws out inspiration from the young girls, women and men who can relate to her message. Sure enough, people have been leaving messages for her on social media, to which she diligently replies.
In her new-found advocacy for self-acceptance and body positivity, Magat has surely come a long way, landing herself some modeling jobs through social media.
Magat said her first job was for a lingerie brand in Australia called Curvilicious Lingerie. She said the brand sends her clothes, which she models and shares in her social media accounts.
She gets a commission and free clothes from her job.
Magat is also excited that Fashion Nova, an online fashion brand for women based in the US, also asked her to model something for their plus-size collection called Fashion Nova Curve. She is just waiting for the clothes to arrive.
Among the local brands, she models for Plus Size Pinas.
Magat finds modeling interesting and hopes she eventually gets signed by a modeling agency. However, she still dreams about becoming a journalist. Eventually, she wants to write a book.
Body shaming is real. But Magat offers this advice: “Accept yourself. Work on loving yourself even if it’s hard because you just don’t like what you see—just try.”