Gabbi Garcia is proud of her morena skin. But the 21-year-old actress admitted that growing up, she used to feel insecure about her skin color. More than a dozen times, she auditioned and got rejected because the part went to a mestiza.
In BJ Pascual's vlog, she said, "I remember when I was a kid, I was so insecure because di ba iyon iyong time na sobrang uso iyong mga VTRs? Yung mga ganun-ganun."
'Tapos magha-hop ka sa Makati 'tapos mag-o-audition ka, magvi-VTR ka for a commercial. Out of mga 30 plus or 40 plus VTRs, parang tatlo lang iyong commercial ko. You know why?" Gabbi shared.
"I was so insecure when I was a kid kasi laging iyong mga kinukuha, iyong mga may lahi. Iyon iyong mabenta before, eh di ba?
"I was just this cute kid—cute talaga?—'tapos sobrang morena ako, as in. Parang iyon iyong laging final callback. 'Tapos laging hindi ko siya nakukuha because iyong mga nakukuha, laging iyong mga may lahi, iyong mga 'half-half," she said referring to mestizas.
Initially, the experience took a toll on her confidence. "At first I was so insecure na parang, 'Bakit ganun? Wala bang spaces, wala bang spot for, like, Pinay beauty?'"
But instead of aspiring to become fair-skinned, she decided to accept her morena skin. "So growing up, iyon talaga iyong sinabi ko. Especially when I entered the industry, sabi ko, 'I will not change my skin color. I will love my skin,'" Gabbi said.
"That's why everything that I do about, for example, for like brands for like shoots, talagang I maintain my skin color."
The Beautiful Justice star revealed that embracing her color was not without a struggle. Colorism runs deep in the showbiz industry. "When I entered the industry, I was in 4th year high school, graduating ako. Nung high school ako, I didn't care that much about skin color. Parang wala lang siya sa akin," Gabbi shared.
"Tapos nung pumasok ako sa industry, 'dun ko talaga na-figure out na... in the industry maraming mga sabi-sabi na, 'Alam mo kailangan mo magpaputi para makuha ka ng ganito...' or 'Mas okay kapag maputi ka.'"
Nevertheless, she did not want to get caught up in society's expectations and standards. "Doon ko na-realize the importance of loving yourself and your skin color, na hindi ka magpapa-sway sa ibang tao," Gabbi said.
"Kasi it's like crushing your own confidence. Imagine people around you telling you, 'Your skin color is not good enough, you have to be whiter.' Kaya parang, when I entered the industry na nakita ko maraming taong ganun, doon mas nag-build up iyong confidence ko na, 'Hindi, I'll love myself even more because of these people around me.'"
Gabbi clarified that she sees nothing wrong if a person chooses to whiten his or her skin. But it's important to do this for themselves and not to please others. "Nothing against the people to take the whitening soaps. I mean, if it's your choice then go for it. Pero iyong taong nag-iisip na, 'Do I have to take these whitening products to fit in?' Ayun na, dun tayo nagkakatalo."
"If you're just using these whitening products to fit it, then think twice. Ngayon kasi, mas open na iyong mga tao when it comes to skin color, which we all appreciate, di ba?"
*This story originally appeared on Pep.ph. Minor edits have been made by the Preview.ph editors.