So many people love Nadine for different things.
My reason can be seen as completely superficial:
I love Nadine the most for her looks.
Before people begin writing five page long essays about why Nadine is far greater than her looks, and how she’s accomplished so much in her life- let me explain.
Nadine Lustre is everything that I needed while growing up in my early teen years, and she’s everything I never really found.
I needed someone like Nadine while I was in middle, and throughout high school. Hell, I need someone like Nadine now.
She’s someone I didn’t even know I needed, up until someone posted an instagram picture of her fresh from Greece with a comment along the lines that said:
“She’s tan yet stunningly pretty”
And that “yet” rubbed me the wrong way. Whether or not it was intentional, or maybe they just used a random word, it implied that being tan and dark makes it difficult to be pretty. That somehow Nadine broke a norm that tan girls aren’t pretty. That one word just didn’t sit with me right. And the person who commented probably didn’t even realize what they were typing, they were just complimenting Nadine.
This is when it really personally hit me how much we’ve looked down on dark skin. And how much I appreciate Nadine because she helps others realize that our tan skin and non-western appearance isn’t something to be ashamed of.
LACK OF FILIPINA REPRESENTATION IN AMERICAN MEDIA
I do want to talk about how the lack of filipino representation in american media relates to Nadine.
So of course you guys know the big issue about representation in the media. And how important it is for young girls etc etc. I always agreed that it was important, but I always chose to view this issue as an outsider. I was a third person in the audience that held a banner agreeing with the cause, but I felt like a person who never really suffered from the issue.
It just never felt like a big deal for me- I never really felt excluded from the media.
This was because the fight for representation in my eyes, has always been strongly associated with the black community, and the latinx community. And yes of course the asian community. But whenever I click on videos regarding the representation needed for asian americans, I never felt like it applied to me.
BUT I am an asian american. I am a filipina. Filipina’s are not a normal part of american media. So how come I never felt like representation was a big deal to me?
- Because I never knew what it meant to be represented in the media. I never knew what it felt like to say, “Hey that person looks like me, and it feels good” until I saw Nadine on screen. I never felt like I had to fight for representation in the media, because I didn’t really know the importance of what the cause was fighting for.
- In my eyes, as long as people looked like me in real life, sit didn’t matter if they didn’t look like me on the big screen. That’s that what I’ve been conditioned to think. Be satisfied with what I have, and all I have is representation in the real world.
- Because the voices fighting for representation of asian’s in the media did not look like me. It is primarily the Korean, Chinese, Japanese actors and actresses that are the faces of the fight. I haven’t seen filipino actors or actresses fight for representation. I haven’t seen filipino actors or actresses voice their opinions on this. I think it’s because it’s hard enough as it is for asian americans to get a role in american television and movies, and it’s even harder because there is such a strict format for what an asian american must look like in order to even get a role. And deep inside me, the filipino face is not the typical asian character the american industry wants.
So yes, Nadine isn’t big in american media. But she’s gaining a lot of attention from filipina fans overseas. And for those fans overseas who are lacking filipina representation wherever they live and not even knowing it, Nadine is a breath of fresh air. Hell, she’s a breath of relief. There is a celebrity out there who looks similar to me and people like her. And look up to her. And she’s the reason why I slowly realized that there isn’t much filipina representation in Philippine media.
LET’S GO EVEN DEEPER FOLKS: LACK OF FILIPINA REPRESENTATION IN THE PHILIPPINE MEDIA
Wait what? What is this title? How can there be a lack of filipina representation in Philippine media?
And what’s heartbreaking guys.
I realized that I never really felt like I was represented in the Philippine showbiz industry. In the PHILIPPINES guys.
This is the ultimate root of why I never questioned the lack of representation in american media. It’s because there’s a lack of filipina looking women in Philippine media.
We all know it’s because of the western beauty standards that dominate the industry with an iron grip. Western beauty became so normalized. It became a routine, that celebrity after celebrity, you see a very western looking filipina woman, to the point where no one really questioned this phenomena.
If the celebrities in the Philippines look similar to the celebrities in america, then of course I wouldn’t feel like I’m excluded from american media. We look up to western beauty so much that it felt normal to have fair-skinned american women on-screen 24/7.
Actresses who I loved and looked up to like Kim Chiu, Anne Curtis, Tony Gonzaga, Marian Rivera are all beautiful filipinos- but they just don’t look like me.
When you google “filipina actresses”, a list of beautiful and well-known pinay actresses pop up- all with the same fair skin & some with very western features. Come on Philippines! Let’s not shut out our fellow brown-skinned girls or send them straight to belo.
I do not feel represented in Philippine media simply because:
- I am short.
- I am dark.
- My nose is flat.
Most of the actresses in the Philippines are:
- Short (something we can relate to. Unfortunately, angles & heels have fooled me into wanting to look tall like them.)
- Fair skinned.
- Sharp nosed.
Am I bashing on the beautiful celebrity women in the industry? NO. NO. NO.
I’m not shaming the women who are great actresses. I know it’s not their fault that they look the way they look. (That would be ridiculous). I’m saying that the Filipino industry and society has formed and accepted such a narrow standard for what’s considered beautiful in the Philippines, to the point where they exclude women who look similar to the average filipina woman. Filipinos come in all shapes and sizes. We come in different packages.
The problem is I can’t say that I feel represented when I see Anne Curtis on-screen, because I will never feel like I can relate or even grasp the type of beauty Anne Curtis has. Even if I buy five hundred liters of whitening soap, or pinch my nose with clips for hours, I can’t embody the different type of beauty someone like Anne Curtis has.
But Nadine’s confidence with her body gives me that encourages me to accept my image that says “hey, maybe my dark skin isn’t so bad”. Maybe my filipina features aren’t something that I should erase, but instead embrace.
Nadine is finally, finally a celebrity in the Philippines that has dark skin and filipina features that can be an idol for young filipina girls out there who are suffering from insecurities that stem from their appearance.
But after finally having an asian filipina woman like Nadine Lustre grace our t.v. screens and become such a large idol, there was surge of pride and joy in my heart that I couldn’t explain until now.
WHY I EVEN BECAME INVESTED IN NADINE/JADINE
The reason for that is the convenient formula that the love team Jadine has formed that appealed to me. Basically one of the main reasons why I was curious about the love team is because of James.
I know what your thinking: “Of course.”
I became invested in a love team because of the guy. But not for the reasons you might think. Now while James is attractive and all, the reason why I was first curious about James is because he’s from Australia.
No, I’m not from Australia, but I found it kind of funny how a guy who couldn’t really speak tagalog became such a star in the Philippines. He grew up abroad just like I did and it was a link that I was curious about. I was wondering how a guy who grew up in another country can suddenly adjust to the Philippine culture & language. Not that it’s new-Sam Milby right- but this guys closer to my age range. It was one small factor that piqued my curiosity, and ultimately led me down a road to appreciate this love team.
Like I said, this love team had a fantastic “formula” that hooked me in. They ‘re both near my age range, James has lived abroad most his life just like me, and Nadine ultimately hooked me in with her charm.
It wasn’t until later that I realized how important Nadine can be to young filipina girls out there.
I’m going to be honest- I’m not as big of a super fan as other jadines out there. I’ve only discovered them around their OTWOL days. But I think that’s the beauty of Nadine, you don’t have to be a super fan to get that positivity from her.
I love her for all the same reasons her fans do. She’s a great actress, good dancer/singer, she’s funny, she’s naturally charming, sweet, and humble. I’m sure you can find tons of blog posts written about why she’s a great person and why fans look up to her.
And I’m here to tell you why is it that I chose to pinpoint her appearance in this post.
It’s because I’m just exceptionally happy that I can finally have that one special filipina celebrity close to my heart who successfully represents the way I look. She carries her body in a way that screams confidence, comfort, and acceptance.
Her tan skin, dark black hair, and her not-pixie-sharp-nose all come together to physically stand in solidarity with filipinos out there who don’t check the boxes of western standards.
And just as an extra little side note that my insecure middle school self would have swooned at? The fact that Nadine can wear normal looking glasses and still be beautiful. I cannot tell you how excited I was to see Nadine wear glasses in the trailer for Till I Met You. They’re not these chic hipster glasses that are worn for style, they’re actual glasses that people wear. They look exactly like the ones I wore for years in high school.
I can’t tell you how much I hated those high school glasses. I’ve cried several times over how ugly I felt in glasses.
Because even glasses in the philippines are unnattractive. I can’t tell you how many times I visit the philippines and people comment on my glasses. I’ve had people request me to take them off, or look at me with so much pity I wondered why correcting my vision was so awful. My grandma doesn’t like them, my grandpa doesn’t. I hated visiting relatives because I would get tense after they hug me and look at my face, because I already knew what they would comment on.
And you know what?
If Nadine can wear those type of glasses without caring, then so can I. Because she wears them with so much grace and confidence. Plus, she wears that type of glasses in real life too!
I can’t tell you how much I needed someone like Nadine while I was 13. I needed her while I was a younger teen (hell when I was nine), and hated going out in the sun because I could literally feel the melanin in my skin turn myself several shades darker. I felt like the longer I was out in the sun equally reflected the amount of comments I got regarding my skin tone.
I needed her when I felt insecure about my shoulders in middle school. (Some guy made a dumb comment about how broad shoulders were ugly). It would have been nice to look at Nadine and say: “hey broad shoulders are f*cking awesome!”
I needed her when I got comments about how flat my nose was. I needed to look up to her when I helped my friend pinch her nose with clothespins in an effort to make her nose thinner. Or when I would take secret selfies looking or the best angle to make it thinner and pointy. Or when I would feel defeated that when I smiled my nose became flatter. (And I know Nadines got a much nicer nose than I do, but its still got that bit of pinay in it and that’s all I need.)
I needed to look up to someone like her during senior year of high school where for the first time in my life I felt chubby. Not really fat, but not as thin as I wanted. I needed Nadine to look up to. To see that you don’t have to be stick thin to look gorgeous, that if you have thicker thighs that’s alright!
I needed her when I felt so uncomfortable with my body, whenever I was too shy to let loose and laugh as hard as I wanted. To be silly. And Nadine has shown me it’s okay to be all these things.
And as you know, I needed her during years and years of low-key hating my glasses.
Even Nadine can’t escape the scathing criticism of negative haters out there that comment on her appearance. But her strength and ability to deflect the hate and carry on with her life is another reason why I look up to her. She doesn’t change herself to fit into what might please those who comment negatively about her.
And after years of looking up to beautiful white women who are equally just as strong as Nadine, it feels fucking great to have someone of your own ethnicity and race to look up to. I finally understand the importance of representation in media.
So why is Nadine my favorite filipina celebrity? Because of her beautiful personality, acting abilities, and something that I hope sounds less superficial: her looks.