While society recognizes women and their important roles in the family unit, the community and nation building, there are still those who are stereotyped into archaic definitions of a female. Famous as they are, actress Jennylyn Mercado, weightlifting champion Hidilyn Diaz, model-comedienne Wilma Doesnt and TV host Tricia Centenera experience this too from time to time.
They said so at the launch of Avon Fashion’s “Step Into Your Comfort Zone” campaign, held at exclusive Manila House Private Club, where they took to the runway dressed in the label’s latest intimate apparel collection. A symbolic way to show their victory over stereo-typing, these four amazing women openly shared their story at the end of the fashion show, full of hope that they will inspire others to break away from society’s labels and expectations and be truly empowered today.
Jennylyn Mercado: Not just a mom
Five years after winning the first edition of “Starstruck,” GMA Network’s talent-search show, this then-budding actress hogged headlines when she became a single mother in 2008. After settling into her new role, she returned to showbiz to earn a living and found herself typecast in maternal characters.
All the same, she held her chin up and refused to be affected by her new reality. Instead, she worked hard to let her passion and talent for acting shine through that soon enough, she regained her place among leading ladies, winning acting awards along the way for movies and television.
“Let’s face it, hindi madaling maging single mother. Pero hindi ako sumuko at napalaki ko ang anak ko mag-isa. Para sa akin, yun ang pinakamasarap na feeling,” the 30-year-old enthused.“At masarap sa pakiramdam na maging inspirasyon para sa mga babae lalo na sa mga single moms.”
Hidilyn Diaz: Certified champion
This Zamboanga City native ended the country’s 20-year Olympic medal drought at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics in weightlifting. It was a winning moment when she proved those who doubted her sport of choice wrong with the entire nation hailing her name.
Proud as she is of the feat, Diaz’ reality is this: “Ngayon naman, ang sinasabi nila sa akin, walang magkakagusto sa akin dahil yung mga muscles ko malalaki at panlalaki. Pero gusto at mahal ko ang sport na ito kaya naman proud akong ipakita ang bunga ng weightlifting sa katawan ko.”
As such, she stepped onto the runway that night with her head held high—every muscle in her body defined—and a smile that says she still believes in love.
Wilma Doesnt: In her own skin
In the ‘90s, fashion models made it big if they were fair skinned and well-endowed. Two things Doesnt never was. All the same, she decided to embrace her looks, which was something a modelling scout eventually spotted and took to the runways of top Philippine designers.
“Sabi ko sa sarili hindi ako papayag na parang they don’t know me but they judge me based on my looks so in-improve ko talaga yung craft ko,” said the fighter of a woman. “What I learned is that in order to be happy and to succeed you have to love yourself above all and be proud of who you are.”
Tricia Centenera: Beyond divorce
Centenera held her head high after a much-talked about divorced from her celebrity husband, Gab Valenciano.
She found herself amid a storm of judgement, married only for two years before they agreed to part ways. But so long as she know the truth, Centenera never allowed herself to be pulled down by detractors. Instead, she focused her energy on regaining her career as a TV host and fashion personality, even rekindling a friendship with her ex-husband.
“The end of a marriage will only be a bad thing if you let it,” she stated.