EXISTENTIAL BLABBER By Kara Ortiga The Philippine Star Updated March 16, 2012 12:00 AM
Don’t let appearances fool you. A goth like Marilyn Manson
and a bombshell like Erin Brockovich might surprise you.
As far back as I can remember, shampoo commercials have made long, silky, buhaghag-free hair the peg for perfection. It has always been the epitome of beauty, hair so long and silky smooth a comb can slide effortlessly from root to tip.
We hardly see girls bouncing their luscious locks or Twiggy bobs on TV. It was only quite recently that brands began to recognize the profit potential of girls with different hair types. Still, the curls or the bobs are not placed on a pedestal like the long straight hair is; they are merely presented as variety.
Until today, when many of this country’s favorite mainstream celebrities and famed showbiz personalities all don the same long, straight hair. From the girls gracefully walking ramps in beauty pageants, to the sex bomb dancers on noontime game shows, it is as if they have all been taken from the same cookie cutter.
Maybe we take it from Maria Clara, who pegged an image of what every Pinay girl should strive to be: defined by grace, subtle femininity and beauty. The image of the timid and conservative lady is so deeply ingrained in us that any image that departs from this is immediately cast away as “different” or stereotyped — anything to explain the disparity.
Take the example of Charice Pempengco, whose new hairdo and overall look met a range of inappropriate reactions from media and the general public. Charice says her new dirty blonde, sharp-edged, above-the-shoulder short hair and tattoo branding her arm “Love Eternally” was who she always wanted to be: a “rocker” with more of an edgy look.
Not a problem at all, especially for a girl who was plucked from normalcy, shoved into the spotlight and immediately dressed up and packaged before she could even dictate her individuality.
What is a little off-putting, however, is the media’s vague reaction to the starlet’s physical transformation, probing her with questions of sexual preference, as if it were directly correlated to her new haircut, or tattoo.
It’s a good thing Charice is able to respond with a level of maturity. “Why would you ask me that question? I think that’s a very inappropriate question.”
And it’s true. Charice’s new hairdo may have rubbed a few people the wrong way, but only because the status quo has long imposed how certain types of people are supposed to think, act and look. Most magazine covers, TV shows and advertisements feature more or less the same type of look, and anything apart from it is labeled as “different,” “edgy,” “rock,” “rebellious” or “comedy.” In the same way, the roles we play are dictated mainly by image, so much so that you are expected to act the way you look. As though everything is that simple. It’s almost unsurprising that the press reacted that way. We live in a society with a two-dimensional standard of beauty, or human characterization as a whole.
We live in a society where a guy who likes wearing eyeliner, earrings and black nail polish is free to be questioned about his sexuality, or branded a “punk.” Have you ever heard Marilyn Manson, the very unconventional rock star, conduct one-on-one interviews? Have you seen him interact with his fans on the streets? He is more eloquent, insightful and friendly than some of your pretty boy band members.
We live in a society where a girl in short skirts and spaghetti straps is, of course, promiscuous, slutty and immoral. So what about Erin Brockovich, who wore short skirts and push-up bras, yet helped win a lawsuit against a giant corporation in favor of thousands of sick families?
We have put so much human value into the way we look or dress, that everything is perceived at a superficial level; where the color of our skin, our height, or the clothes we wear become measurements of someone’s character. How a new haircut became the basis of judgment for sexual preference is quite odd, very inappropriate, but also proof of how shallow our perception of image and character is.
Wish we could all just be like Charice, when she confidently brushed off the media with a definitive statement, “This is the look that I want. The only thing that you can do is move on.” It doesn’t matter how you look. Prove people wrong with the quality of your character. Amaze them with your unique perception, your generous sincerity and your wit. And when they throw back at you low blows or facile judgments, do as Charice does and just tell them that this is who you are, either accept it or move on, people, move on.