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Two Vancouver sisters are tackling harmful attitudes around body-shaming, colourism and language on a podcast catered to millennials who identify as Filipino.

Filipino Fridays, a mix of panel discussions and guest interviews, aims to air out these culturally sensitive issues on a media platform accessible to millennials, which make up the majority of the show’s audience.

It’s a deeply personal project for the hosts, Archierose and Archia Angeli Natividad, who have faced these attitudes first-hand.

“The first [time] you walk into a Filipino party, the first comment is not even ‘hi, hello,’ it’s just ‘ang taba mo,’ said Archia.

“Which means like, ‘hey, you got fat,'” Archierose added.

Another issue they’ve covered is colourism, the act of discriminating against someone of a darker skin-tone.

“So, the beauty standard for Filipinos is usually a lighter complexion with a narrower nose, which is opposite from what our native facial structure and characteristics [are],” said Archierose.

“When you have those qualities, that means that you are of a higher social standing … that outdated standard has now impacted how we look at ourselves and how we accept … each other.”

Archierose and Archia Angeli Natividad discuss how decades of colonialism have shaped beauty standards in Filipino culture and how that has been harmful to young Filipinos. 1:39

Hannah Balba, a recent University of British Columbia graduate who mentors Filipino youth in high school, says confronting older relatives about these issues is difficult.

“I’ve had my share of being body-shamed by relatives … and just receiving unsolicited comments about my appearance and my judgments about my life,” said Balba.

“There’s this understanding among Filipino youth to … respond with respect.”

Archierose says this respect for family structure runs deep in the Filipino community. 

“It’s very, very hard to speak up and say to your tita or your lola [aunt or older relative] … please stop commenting on my weight, it’s really hurtful,” she said.

Archierose experienced this herself when her aunt gifted her a kitchen appliance designed to chop salad, which she took as a veiled attempt at body-shaming.

She said it prompted her to have an honest conversation with her aunt about how hurtful it was to be constantly shamed for her weight, which her aunt received well. She has never made a comment about her body since then, Archierose said.

Starting the conversation

The Natividads believe the best way to start a healthy conversation about these attitudes is to first recognize why older generations of Filipinos might still hold onto them; namely, keeping a sense of social familiarity or desire to fit in with others in their community.

“We need to encourage [younger people] to also be guardians for our family and start the conversation,” Archierose said. “There are so many traumatic experiences from uprooting and immigrating and settling here.”

She’s hoping the discussions and guests on Filipino Fridays, which has hundreds of listeners in both North America and the Philippines, can provide some sense of community for those who might be unable to start these conversations with their older relatives.

“These are topics people are not maybe comfortable with,” Archierose said. “But … what do we do with discomfort? You make a podcast.”

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