you don’t alter your pinayness, you alter yourself to fit being a pinay

NOT ONLY did esposa hermosa not find a recent article I read about bridal tube feeding an alarming commentary on the lengths women will go to look “acceptable” on her wedding day, it actually inspired her to do something similar to fit into a picture-perfect party dress that she declared was the ONLY outfit that would satisfy her norm in looking good for an event.  I didn’t believe there was actually a pop culture adage to the effect that you don’t alter (a certain fashion designer’s dimensions), you alter yourself to fit (that designer), certainly commercially-conceived consumer hyperbole, but I saw it brought to life by esposa herself, declaring a one-day fast (save for smoothies and crackers) just to look fabulous (she already looks fabulous to me) for said event.

Which just brought to mind the various pressures women are subjected to just to prettify themselves and therefore give themselves the veneer of acceptability (let alone beauty) in civilized society.  It would all be very well in absolute terms, but we all know that men are not subjected to this pressure to paint our faces, finger nails and toe nails, put on at least half a dozen different substances on multiple layers to moisturize, lighten and strategically shade spots on their faces, specifically eyes, cheeks and noses;

Routinely in weddings, debuts and formal occasions, nobody gives us men a second look (even in our supposedly virile 20s, 30s and 40s) with our beer bellies and five o’clock shadows, but these same men would thumb their noses at their mates if the latter came out with anything less than flawless complexions and hourglass figures.

Obviously with my resume’, I can only speak for Pinays, so I hope there are some parallels you can draw if you’re other-Asian, Caucasian or of some other persuasion.

Depending on the amount of time a poor girl has before a big event, she can either pick out an outfit she’s never worn before or buy a brand-new one, usually worth several paycheques, pick out or buy shoes that match said outfit, replenish her store of makeup and hair care products or outsource the hair-and-makeup job to a professional who’s paid by the minute, and don’t forget the sidetrip to buy accessories, real jewelry and fashion jewelry, all the above to attend an event that besides the celebrant, no one will remember, to partake of food that will be a distant memory the morning after, and attended by people half of which she doesn’t even know.

And her boyfriend / date / partner?  He gets to wear the same suit he’s worn for Junior-Senior prom, graduation, his wedding, and probably the same suit he’ll be buried in (sorry to be morbid).  A sprinkle of face powder, deodorant and some after-shave, if he’s saved some from last time comprises the full range of aesthetic preparation he will undertake for the same occasion.

Nothing new for him, but hopefully everything will be freshly laundered.  All he needs to do is keep his shirt free from wine and ketchup stains, prevent scuffing the dull sheen of his loafers, and comb his unruly hair every now and then to avoid negative comments about hair gone awry.

On the other hand, his mate, harrassed Pinay, has a thousand-and-one items on her inbox.  Hair in place?  Check.  Face perfect?  Awesome for now.  Gown, bag and shoes coordinated? OK.  Now just hold that pause for the next three hours for the pics and Facebook posts so we can get this show on the road.

Sigh.  It’s hard enough to be pretty and sexy.  Harder when you’re young and eligible.  But it’s truly a challenge to be all that, and Pinay.

From Megamall 2 Downtown Wellington : Mahal’s 1st full-time gig

Clothes, accessories and things that make a girl prettier. It won't really be work for her.

The place that offered Mahal her first full-time job. Medyo malayo lang. McDo above is a bonus. 😉

[ Pssst… if you read this and are a friend or acquaintance of the subject of this particular blog, don’t tell her OK?  🙂  Belated happy birthdays to dear friend and Blitz-mate Dodie deGuzman – Gutierrez, and kabatch Danny Lua and Michael Tan, now let’s cross our fingers for the All Blacks ! ]

IT”S BEEN a whirlwind 18 months for esposa hermosa, time almost seems to have flown by (forgive the trite hyperbole), but how else would you have described it if in said span of time you experienced your first international flight, settled in her first foreign home, worked in a first-ever foreign job, gotten married, a first in almost everything in fact, and had she not paused in her spinning-top daily sked to take stock of what she’s done so far, wouldn’t even have realized the enormity of what she’s done.  Still it’s worthwhile to celebrate a milestone here and there, and probably as good a milestone as any is her first offer of a fulltime job.

To put it in context, NZ is currently suffering one of its worst unemployment situations in recent memory, hovering between 6 to 10 percent the last eight quarters, and superskilled and ably skilled Pinoy compatriots have endured the Sisyphean dilemma of choosing between vacancies that require unrealistic qualifications and accepting job offers that are several notches below professional and educational credentials.

Perhaps it was just as well that E.H. wasn’t aware of these realities, because she was prepared to accept the first gig that came her way.  I guess it shouldn’t be too surprising that anything involving fashion, cosmetology or the various arts dedicated to prettifying the fairer sex would be close to heart, she is after all a typical Pinay who loves looking and feeling confident, and what better way than to make herself look beautiful?

Nope, Gwen S wasn't their client, but this type of nail art was available in her first gig.

That’s how she got her first job as a nail technician, needing only skills that she’d been familiar with since her teens.  But because the idea of pre-set, template-style nail designs didn’t catch on, after a few months it became obvious to her that she needed more income and the only way to do this was either get a second gig or work more hours from her present job.  Since the second alternative wasn’t about to come soon, she sharpened her eyes for a vacancy.

It hadn’t occurred to her that her skills and confidence level were good enough for a full-time job, and when I mentioned the tantalizing prospect to her, she merely shrugged her shoulders que sera sera-style and said kung uukol bubukol.

An unlikely gig prospect revealed itself : somebody had been looking for a no-nonsense, energetic and preferably Asian worker to fill shifts at the neighborhood mall’s biggest sushi bar.

Why no-nonsense?  There was no time for banter, clockwatching or long breaks, as the sushi bar was a pagoda of activity (a little pun there) from opening to closing,  Kiwis having found out the little secret of the Japanese : sushi rolls are an inexpensive, nutrition and energy filled lunch takeaway ideal for every sort of meal away from home.  And the famously tasty wasabe and soy sauce combination certainly didn’t hurt.

Why energetic?  Well, in the nature of non-stop, New York minute type of jobs, there was an excess of activity involved, and if you were the brooding, deliberate kind of worker, you probably wouldn’t last long in the job.

From sunup to sundown, the sushi rolls flew off the counters...

Why Asian?  The answer, as Mahal beheld the Pinoy, Korean and Chinese (but curiously, non-Japanese) roster, simply lay in image.  Just as staffers without olive skin wouldn’t be a good fit for Indian restos, anyone who didn’t remotely look like someone from the Land of the Rising Sun didn’t lend much authenticity to the product.  I know it’s a subjective comment (like all my other comments) but that’s how I rationalized it.  So E.H. familiarized herself with the sushi rolling pad, the giant rice cooker and the bento bar, and joined the ranks of sushi soldiers while serving the hungry but taste-conscious Kiwi workforce Tuesdays, Thursdays and weekends.

***               ***              ***               ***               ***

The most recent job offer as you might think appealed to her womanly inclinations almost instantly.  Retail selling of fashionable Clothes, bags and accessories.  Would you know any Pinay who wouldn’t be attracted to such a job?  Nope, she answered, and she was certainly no exception, as she marveled at her good fortune.  All it would take was more than a passing interest in the merchandise, to be a quick study in the pricing and size definition of the brand, and an eye for whether the item of sale looked good on the potential buyer.  Could Mahal nail the requirements?

Hello? and raised eyebrow were all I got from her.

Given the pamasahe, the long-term consequences, and job stability issues, Mahal is as of now still deliberating between her present job, which she loves, and her new job offer, which she suspects she will enjoy.  Whatever she decides, all I know is that she has already gone far beyond the first few steps she made on the Wellington tarmac,  just a year-and-a-half ago.  Congrats, Mahal !