I. The Importance of Categorization
Part of the reason why I have trouble with my identity is that I’m full of paradoxes. I don’t fit any mold. A big part of existing within society involves categorizing yourself. Wandering too far outside of one’s category results in danger or trouble.
For example, a gangster from Tondo will be utterly ill at ease if somehow finding herself at a nice cocktail party in Edsa Shang. A wealthy Chinese matron, now, completely enjoying herself at this nice cocktail party, will be completely dead if she dares to wander alone in the streets of Tondo.
For a less extreme example, students from ADMU, UP and La Salle quite rarely date students from UST. This is because students from the top 3 are snobs. ADMU students are intellectual and financial snobs; UP students are ideological and intellectual snobs; and La Salle students are just financial snobs.
(Btw, you can easily find out a group’s deepest biases by which group they will not date, because dating is the one aspect of social life wherein discrimination is still socially sanctioned. You will be attacked for saying you don’t like transgenders, but no one will fault you for preferring not to date them. The Philippines is very deeply racist. If this is not obvious from the term “kutis-mayaman” automatically meaning white, you can know this from the fact that most Filipinos will not date black people.)
II. The Lie
Since today’s culture, especially in the millennial generation (though I think this probably started in the 60’s, the illogical interpretation of the black rights and feminist movements), it’s considered horrible to explicitly categorize people, the categories now are completely unspoken.
The lie here is that sans explicit categories, you can be whatever you want to be.
That is not true.
Most of American and Americanized media, chiefly advertising, depends on people not knowing who they are. If you don’t know who you are, you can be easily convinced that you are something you’re not: and that carries with it many, many, many implications. If you don’t know who you are, you won’t even know what kind of clothes you like to wear. What kind of food you like to eat. What kind of TV shows or movies you like to watch.
Such an ad is completely confusing to a person who knows for a fact what “fat” and “fit” mean. You’re either fat or you’re fit. The person who knows what fat / fit means AND has the ability to honestly evaluate her own body will see no point in having a “beauty debate.” Advertising relies on the audience being unsure about facts, particularly facts about themselves, because then the product (or related products) can be offered to help convince the audience of what they want to believe.
I.e., you may be 50 pounds overweight and get winded whenever you climb a flight of stairs, but you’re not fat, you’re fit.
The people at the beauty debate said so.
Thanks for facilitating this conversation, Dove! I was really encouraged by the emotional support. It’s so good to know I’m not alone.
III. Me Again
I’ve managed to infiltrate many categories that would never mix. Not on purpose, I just really want to find somewhere I belong. I still haven’t found it.
1. FF and V (Atheists and Christians)
There’s this group called FF. I met their leader once and he was very pleasant. They have several chapters around the country, I think. About two or three years ago I joined their main FB group for discussions. The discussions were so vicious (and completely unproductive) that members were constantly having to get kicked out. I left shortly, but not before I gathered a few acquaintances from that group.
There’s a church called V. They have branches all over the country, probably at least one in every municipality. They count among their members many influential and wealthy people, including some celebrities. They have a lot of money. I know because they just built a huge building in BGC, one of the most expensive areas in the country for real estate. (Don’t worry, it’s for the glory of God.) Most telling, however, is that I know people who work for them full-time, who do nothing all day except talk to people about God, and they can afford to pay these people pretty well. They have some missionaries abroad, distributing Bibles or some shit, but strangely haven’t opened so much as a soup kitchen here in the Philippines.
2. Adults and Sex
Children are idiots who don’t know what’s good for them, and should not be allowed to make choices that have dangerous consequences.
For this reason, adults should not treat children like adults.
However, I started growing boobies at around 8 years old (I can remember the exact moment I felt them there – I was in school and accidentally bumped on something, and it hurt in a way it did not hurt before, so I felt my chest and voila, mammary glands – the fat was fully padded on by the time I was 10) and I achieved my current height at around 13 years old.
I rarely ever looked at myself in the mirror then, and few pictures of me from that period exist, but I know I was pretty.
I was pretty. I was tall. I had boobies. All this, at around 9.
And my parents didn’t really keep a very close eye on me. And there wasn’t a lot of communication going on. And I didn’t have many friends, but I was still endlessly curious about the world. So I got in quite a lot of dangerous situations, because I was so often alone.
One New Year’s Eve when I was 14, I was swimming at a hotel pool alone at midnight. There was a guy there. In hindsight I know he was flirting with me but at the time I just smelled danger and couldn’t really figure out what was going on. He offered me a beer. I poured it into the pool when he wasn’t looking. I don’t remember if he asked how old I was. But he spoke to me as if I were a woman, even though I was just a child. He made comments about my body. Eventually I made an excuse and left, rather disappointed that I didn’t finish my laps.
That was one of the times that turned out best. I don’t really talk about the other times except when I’m feeling cornered in an argument.
One of the most defining experiences of my young life was the brief relationship I had with my first girlfriend. (Actually, all them were brief, but the first was the most defining.) At the time I was too young to realize the dangerous implications of dating someone so much older than me, and she for her part was too lonely and too much distracted by how smart and beautiful I was at the time to care much about the dangerous implications (of which she was fully aware, I’m sure).
So I was a child who was treated like a woman.
I didn’t know I was a child. I pursued a woman because I thought I was a woman. I still don’t even know now if I’m a child or a woman (one of the reasons why I’m so hesitant now to date). Either way, for many pivotal periods in my life, I was perceived by others as a woman and treated like a woman.
3. Beautiful People and Non-beautiful People
This one is quite simple. It all depends on how much weight I have on. When I hit 115, I’m stop-and-stare gorgeous. Any more than 130, and I’m completely ordinary.
My weight has fluctuated quite a lot throughout my life. I have basically a fast metabolism, but it’s easily compromised by medication. In other words, meds make me fat. Since the meds are necessary, I don’t care when I gain weight. I also don’t really care much when I lose it, except I like being more comfortable in my clothes.
Hovering around 115, during casual interactions, people comment on how beautiful I am. If I’m walking around and wearing nice clothes (or sometimes not even); as I’ve said, people will turn and stare at me. I get what I want quite easily. Once I accompanied someone to the PRC, which is a hellish place, as are all central government offices here, and they took us into their room and let us sit there and wait for the processing, while the unwashed masses sat outside marinating in their own sweat – oops, I mean future doctors, lawyers, architects, etc. of the Philippines. Another time, I went to Makati city hall to fetch someone’s confiscated driver’s license, wearing a short dress. I paid a couple hundred and it was delivered to me right where I was waiting outside in 10 minutes. Once I put on a short dress, stockings and leather boots, and for that I met a billionaire in his hotel room, stayed the night with a group of people I barely knew and ordered thousands’ worth of room service.
And that’s just off the top of my sleepy head.
Getting closer to 150, hardly anyone is interested in anything I have to say, much less in giving me what I want. I get ignored in groups, even small ones. It’s like I become invisible.