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Metro Body 2023: Ria Atayde Champions Body Positivity

“If you’re able to accept and embrace yourself, then everyone else will because it will shine,” the Kapamilya star says

It’s no secret that such names in showbiz have the power to shift the conversation, especially when it comes to sensitive subjects and issues of utmost importance. Body image, for one, is indeed a broad topic to touch on, but not everybody is eager to embrace a brand new stance on self-acceptance. To actress Ria Atayde, body positivity is something that she takes pride in standing for. “I’m a big advocate of body positivity. I strongly believe that representation matters,” she begins.

“Personally, if I’ve seen people my size more in the media when I was younger, then maybe my self-image and body image would’ve been a lot more positive,” Ria continues, her fire set aflame. “This is something I really stand behind; it’s something I truly believe in.” After her stint as the fiery 2023 calendar girl of liquor giant White Castle Whisky, the Kapamilya star is now setting another track record as the top act of Star Magic’s “Hot Summer: LaHot Sexy” event. 

The summer event, which is slated to happen on May 4, 2023, is a rendezvous of ABS-CBN’s hottest household names and promising newcomers alike. With the aim of putting out a healthy perspective on being confident in one’s own body, LaHot is celebrating its star-studded line-up of artists like Chie Filomeno, Maymay EntrataEnchong Dee, Jake Cuenca, and of course, the headliner herself: Ria. “I’m most excited about seeing everybody be confident in their own skin,” Ria answers, when asked what she is anticipating in the Kapamilya affair.

Growing up in the public eye as showbiz royalty, it dawned on Ria that coming up with examples who personify glory no matter the nature of their built is what bridges the gap. “It’s not easy, given how the standards of beauty in the industry—in society—involve more skinny. I guess that did affect me at some point before,” Ria shares with Metro.Style, genuinely speaking her truth. She tells us, “[I] definitely [have] a lot of insecurities growing up.”

Now 31, Ria’s new outlook enables her to outmatch the demons that she has been dealing with as an adolescent. “What it took for me to kind of get over it or move on from it is really the support of the people around me, because if they’re able to accept me looking the way I do, then why can’t I accept myself?” Apart from what’s being seen on the surface, Ria best believes in building around what a person already has. She, too, takes her health seriously and has a high regard for rest and restoration.

“I do try to work out at least three to four times a week. That’s including tennis and strength training with our coach, Culver Padilla,” Ria says. “[My workout routine is] more functional—more sports-specific so that I can avoid injuries.” As to what diet she sticks to, Ria emphasizes that eating to nourish oneself is her newest state of mind. “You eat to nurse yourself and not because you hate yourself,” she stresses.

Being in a mold that is bigger than the usual tradition, Ria admits that she has tackled almost all diets available. It was only then, though, that she changed the way she operates. “You know, you shouldn’t be depriving yourself, and you also work out because you’re happy for your body—not because of your body. It’s really that—it’s a mindset; it’s a lifestyle.” Having sustained four surgeries in the past, the Kapamilya artist predicates self-love on strength. “What do I love most about my body? It’s been able to endure everything it’s been able to endure.”

Ria Atayde - Metro Body 2023

“I’ve gone through a lot when it comes to my health and it’s still here. It’s still standing, and that’s all I can ask of it,” Ria states. “Even though I look like this, if my health is okay, then I’m okay.” On the subject of feeling sexy, however, Ria suggests that the first thing that should top the criteria is comfort. “In order to feel sexy, you have to be comfortable with what you’re wearing. Kasi ’di ba, you can’t be wearing the most revealing thing and you’re uncomfortable [with it.]”

Ria’s idea of “sexy” is an internal matter rather than a momentary one. To her, if a person is not proud of his own skin and what he has to offer, then it doesn’t translate into sexiness. Stepping out of one’s comfort zone and carrying himself/herself as he/she pleases is what the body positivity advocate is going after. “At this point kasi, [there is] nothing to comment on. It’s all noise at this point. Of course, before, I used to be a lot more affected. Like I said, it was a process. It’s like a constant work-in-progress.”

“There are days where you kind of take a step back and it does affect you, but for the most part, it’s okay,” she adds, imparting advice to the youth. Now that she has yielded more experience and has matured into a grown-up from an innocent girl who used to have mental unrest, Ria is setting a fresh standard in the beauty and body industry. “First off, don’t be bothered by the noise,” she kicks off, with the intent of uplifting every unique shape and size.

“People would say a lot of things, especially [that] they feel so entitled to comment about your body, but that’s yours and as long as you’re able to embrace it, celebrate it, then you’re fine,” Ria encapsulates her thoughts. “You should not let other people’s opinions of you and how you look affect you. I know it’s easier said than done, but really, acceptance starts from within,” she expounds, highlighting the importance of inner health, peace, and self-perception. “If you’re able to accept and embrace yourself, then everyone else will because it will shine.”

Photography by Seven Barretto

Art direction by Erwin Botin

Photography assistants: Gillian Claude Villahermosa and Dariel Miraflor

Styling by Danae Dipon 

Makeup by Effie Inigo 

Hairstyling by Anton Papa