Being a beauty queen isn’t just about wearing the most glamorous dresses and looking beautiful, it comes with the responsibility of using your platform to advocate for helpful causes. In the case of Miss Universe Philippines 2021 delegate Ayn Bernos, the goal has always been to redefine beauty standards and empower women of all sizes, skin color, and walks of life.
However, Ayn’s Miss Universe candidacy wasn’t exactly perfect. For one, she revealed that joining the pageant definitely affected her body image. “I was immediately made aware of how much weight I had to lose because of a few acquaintances I met along the way,” she shares in a recent YouTube vlog.
“I’ve gotten feedback from so many people about what I should be doing. One in particular that stood out was somebody told me that I need to get to 105 pounds to look tall on stage. At that point, I was at 118 [pounds] […] I felt like physically, I was very fit, and yet I was told on the spot that I needed to lose that much weight in about a month.”
On top of being told to lose weight, the entrepreneur was also advised to get her cheeks done. “A lot of people were telling me that I looked big in interviews because of my round face, and then I was also told to get veneers because they could do something about the positioning of my teeth so that I could look slimmer."
She continued, “What that experience really taught me was how restrictive the kind of beauty standard people are looking for when you talk about pageants. Now, I’ve seen a lot of beauty queens who vary in the way that they present themselves, but at the end of the day, the norm is still tall, skinny, and that’s it.”
While Ayn knew how pageantry worked, she admits that she had no idea about the emotional impact it would have on her and her fellow candidates.
“I realized that people are not used to seeing girls like me, when in fact I’m pretty common! So if you think I’m not qualified, then you think a lot of other Filipinas are not qualified.”
Even after the competition ended, the challenges continued for Ayn, especially when her body image started deteriorating. She shares, “Once all of that was done, no more pressure from the pageant itself. The next few months was where the body dysmorphia really sank for me. It really slowly evolved and the body image deteriorated slowly after the pageant.”
Now, the beauty queen reveals that going to therapy and changing her mindset about how her body should look really helped in her healing process. Ayn’s new perspective is that our bodies are ever-changing, and it’s something “we can never avoid.”
“We have to be comfortable just existing in this body, because it’s just a part of us, this does not define who you are as a person. I’m learning that I’m a whole person, and I am not just one part of myself. I am not just my body.”