Alexa Ilacad, who we chatted with a year ago over pets and Dua Lipa, recently went viral over the weekend after talking about her struggles with her body image issues.
In case you’re living under a rock, Ilacad is on the latest edition of “Pinoy Big Brother,” now on Kumu. She’s been a breath of fresh air amidst the usual drama on the reality show. She’s bonded with fellow housemate Karen Bordador, who gave her advice on her love life like a wise ate that knows that men ain’t shit. She’s had Alyssa Valdez and Chie Filomeno cheering her on when she felt like she was contributing to her team. Women supporting women, we love to see it.
It was on the show where she opened up about her issues with her body image. “All my life, lalo na growing up in the industry, all I’ve been hearing is, ‘Ang taba mo, magpapayat ka… wala kang project kasi mataba ka.’ That’s stuck in my head forever,” she said to housemate Benedix Ramos, adding that even if Justin Bieber himself told her that she was beautiful, she wouldn’t be able to accept it and that she’s starved herself for as much as four days.
Thankfully, the show got her to talk to their resident psychiatrist. Hewas able to diagnose her with major depressive disorder caused by body dysmorphia and give her the information and advice that she needed, as seen in an episode aired last Nov. 19.
“I see myself differently than how it looks. When I look in the mirror I feel disgusted. I despise the person I see in the mirror,” she said in her confessional. “I just never got the help that I need. Now, I know ito pala ’yun. I’ve been in the industry for more than half of my life, starting as a kid. I never was the thin type. My body type was different from all the other girls. That made me hate myself. I tried all kinds of diets and workouts. I’ve been told so many things like ‘hindi ka kinukuha sa ganitong shows kasi mataba ka. Kayong love team mo, mukha kayong number ten, ikaw ’yung zero.’ Maybe just having to go through that for so long led to this.”
It’s heartbreaking hearing all this from Ilacad, especially since she’s such a ray of sunshine to others. She’s so beautiful and unique and talented. And she’s also so young.
For context, the comment about her love team could’ve been either about her current love team with Gab Lagman which started this year, or her former love team with Nash Aguas. The latter was formed in 2013, when she was just 13. That was also the same year she entered “Goin’ Bulilit.” She could’ve been receiving all those comments as early as then.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record: We need to do better. Ilacad’s confession is a much-needed wake-up call that the industry still continues to chew up and spit out young girls. Alexa shouldn’t have had to feel this disgusted and ashamed about her body. She shouldn’t have had to feel any of that at all.
It’s a wake-up call for us viewers, too. It’s not just a problem with the entertainment industry. Fatphobia is still very much alive, and even though many people are taking steps to promote body positivity (or neutrality, if that’s more to your liking!), it’s not enough. Just last year, so many netizens went ahead and shamed Angel Locsin for gaining weight. A few months ago, Belo released an ad that shamed women for gaining weight in a f*cking pandemic.
It takes nothing to extend kindness to others. In truth, it’s so, so easy to not be sh*tty.