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Body Unfiltered: Iza Calzado Opens Up About Her Emotional Journey Into Body Love

She Talks Asia Co-Founders (from left): Iza Calzado, Victoria Herrera and Lynn Pinugu

 

When asked about her specific definition of “body positivity," actress Iza Calzado considers it for a moment before responding, thoughtfully, “I [prefer] to say ‘body love.’ I feel like there is much more forgiveness and kindness in that word: love.”

Having been very open about her past struggles with weightloss, Iza’s not quite satisfied to just share her story. This year, she serves as the fourth founder of "She Talks Asia," a women empowerment and leadership summit. Her main objective is to spearhead the highly-anticipated "Body Love" campaign, of which she will be leading the panel discussion.

“If you ask me, ‘Why the [Body Love] campaign?’ Because I wanted to speak to the little Iza, who needed guidance, but never had it. I wanted, at the same time, that the 35-year-old me would get so much value from the messages that we [at She Talks Asia] are dishing out as well," explains Iza, stressing the importance of fellow women having these conversations to support each other. “We’re trying to heal ourselves; and in the process, if we can heal others as well and have those people try to heal others, then it’s just a domino effect of putting more light into the world.”

 

 

She Talks Asia covers an array of women’s issues, from work, education, business and tackling sexual harassment; but Iza’s Body Love campaign is definitely one of the most anticipated. It remains a hot-button issue among Filipina women, who, according to award-winning educator and co-founder Lynn Pinugu, suffer a “strong culture of shame.”

To combat the negativity, the ladies of She Talks Asia aim to promote self-love through affirmations. “The best thing to come out of She Talks Asia was when we released the Body Love video," says Lynn. The 2-minute video featured several celebrities and society personalities talking about how they embrace their unique physical attributes, and how they are grateful even for their imperfections. The video was released on Valentine's Day to promote love for oneself. The responses from viewers have been moving, with hundreds of grateful messages coming into their inbox.

 

 

For Iza, the journey to body confidence has been a long emotional journey, one which is still an uphill battle. Having thrived in the fashion and entertainment industry, in which unrealistic beauty expectations often run amok, she now treads a fine line between keeping up with the show and staying true to herself. But all that just makes Iza a more powerful voice for the Body Love campaign.

“I also always felt like I was part of [the beauty standards]," admits Iza. “I talked about my weight loss, my struggles, but people only see perfect photos of me all the time! That’s why it was very difficult for me. Because Iza the celebrity, I felt, looked like this and had to look like this; but Iza the human being was totally not that. So there was a disconnect.”

Nowadays, though, Iza is grateful to her fans and supporters, who have encouraged her to share her story and push to change the messaging of body image. She shares with us, “Maybe one day, I will be courageous enough to share photos of me that are hardly retouched, or not retouched at all. That will come eventually, ang hirap kasi!”

The difficulty comes in knowing that there will definitely be harsh reactions; Iza knows this because she did a little “study” on her Instagram. She recounts the incident vividly, “[Around] Christimas, I posted a not-so perfect photo of myself, and I knew. So I said, ‘Positive Vibes Only’.”

 

 

Positive Vibes Only ??

A post shared by ?? DREAM BIG ?? (@missizacalzado) on

 

As expected, the comments came flooding, with a few bashers remarking on her cellulite and loose skin. But even with the little vitriol, she did not expect the post to have gone viral, picked up by multiple news outlets as a case for self-love against body-shaming. Iza remarks, “It was me testing the waters for Body Love.”

Yet, rather than focus too much on the negativity, Iza is elated that the majority of the comments she received have been mostly positive, with supporters cheering for her cause. “My biggest challenge to myself is to appear as myself, on TV, without having to cover my stretch marks; because all these years, I’ve been made to do so," says Iza, imagining the possibilities and conversations she could raise for Body Love and She Talks Asia. “I always dream of having a role where I can have this body. That’s to come. I haven’t encountered a script yet, but perhaps that is a script we have to make ourselves.”

 

Photo from @missizacalzado