In the entertainment industry, sex appeal still continues to sell. And perhaps more than ever in this age of influencers, a lot of artists are being treated as products to market.
How can an unwillingly labeled “sexy” actor fare in such a cutthroat environment? Cristine Reyes opened up about her experience with objectification and why she’s done with sexy roles in an interview for the podcast “An Open Mind with Liza Soberano.”
In the second episode of her mental health podcast which aired on Jan. 23, Liza Soberano had a chat with Reyes about releasing pent-up emotions and healing from trauma.
At the beginning of the show, Soberano asked Reyes if she felt that she needed to keep her private life private as a public figure. “Now, I realize that I have suppressed some emotions that I carried all throughout my life since I was 6 years old,” Reyes said. “Now I’m at the point in my life na parang, I have to let it go. I have to just not cover this up.” The 32-year-old actress first spoke about experiencing verbal abuse as a neglected child back in October 2021.
While she’s focusing on her journey toward healing, does Reyes plan to continue her acting career? “I would still want to do it until I get old. The only thing that hinders me from loving my job is doing some roles that I [am] not comfortable [with], movies that are advocating about affairs, and endorsing something like liquor [while] wearing a two-piece. For me parang, god, I’m so tired. And I don’t want to do it anymore. It makes me uncomfortable, first. Second, parang you lose your self-respect,” she confessed.
“I’m always seen in a different light. That I’m an object. When I got back from [doing a self-help course in] L.A., I got offered another movie with a dream director. As I was listening, I was shocked kasi I already voiced out my sentiments [against] doing those kinds of stuff and here we go again. I cried,” Reyes said about still being typecast.
“Am I going to be pushed over again? ’Cause I’m scared [that] if I decline, would I still [get] work? When I went to L.A., I really had to step up and learn to value myself more. So I said, no. I did it and I was so scared. I think I’m just so blessed because the next day, they offered me three projects that are really, really good,” she tearily recounted. “I’m a single mom. Nobody’s supporting me. It was big for me.”
Reyes clarified that the sexy image she was made to project wasn’t her choice. “I was forced to do it before. I was always being compared with a lot of my batchmates in the industry and they were all doing it. I was so against it,” she said. “I had no parents with me [when] I entered show business. I entered the business not because I wanted to be famous or to get a job. I entered the business because I wanted to escape my reality [at] home.”
“I was 14. I had to swallow it. I had to go in a bikini and pose for the camera for a magazine. I was helpless. I was portrayed as ‘one of those girls,’” Reyes recalled. “There [were] consequences, I got dropped out of school because it was run by nuns. Obviously, they wouldn’t accept it. My last resort [was] to enter the business and get out of my home.”
Reyes added that being oversexualized also pushed her to keep to herself. “With me, I’m more irritated with men. You know how they portrayed me in movies and TV commercials. So whenever a guy looks at me, especially in the gym, I’m always pissed. That’s me. That’s why I always have this angry face.”
Soberano pointed out how it’s unfair for people to judge artists, especially younger ones, for sexy projects. “It’s easy for other people to say, ‘Ah, gusto naman niya. Ah, siya naman ang may gusto niyan.’ But they don’t know that at the end of the day, we have mouths to feed and a life to live.”
She further pointed out, “Behind the camera, each of us are given a certain brand or a certain image that they want us to stick with. We’re human beings. We evolve. We change. What we want in life will change. I feel like in our industry, especially here in the Philippines, they need to learn to start respecting that. You can’t just keep portraying an image that you once had. They can’t force an image upon a person if it’s not authentic and if it’s not something that [the person] wants.”