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Power Dressing

bayong1I don’t know about the Western culture but I read and heard a lot of stories of discrimination, based on how you dress and how you look, from where I came from. The most popular story being told and being passed on to generations in the hope of teaching a lesson is that of  a man from the province, dressed as a typical provincial lad, carrying a bayong (a handwoven native bag). He went to the city and entered several banks but he was not entertained. The last bank he went to entertained him and the officer was surprised to discover that the bayong actually contained money. The money was from his harvest and he was actually a rich man from the province. I am not really a good story-teller but I hope I delivered the lesson behind the story.

Of course, it is not an everyday occurrence but I am sure not one of us can say that we have not been guilty of judging a person by how he looks. It is human nature, I guess. We tend to give more attention to those who dress well and look good.

It is a reality and there is no sense in getting angry over the fact that Filipinos are all-over the world doing menial jobs. We have been subjects of joke over that fact and overly-sensitive Filipinos are prompt in their negative response. Generally though, Filipinos doing these menial jobs are highly-regarded.That, to me, is very important and speaks a lot about the value of hard work.

Sadly, because of this, it is easy to generalize that Filipinos working abroad work as domestic helpers, construction and factory workers, etc. What of the professionals?

A Filipino expat here in Seoul had a story to tell over coffee. He was travelling with his British counterparts. The Brits were dressing casually while he had a suit on. He was asked why. In his mind, he had to say, “That’s because you are not Filipinos!”. Sad but true. Dress casually and most of the time you will not be given the kind of attention you will be given when you are in a suit.

We don’t have to look too far. Even in our own country (the Philippines), the difference in the attention one gets based on how he looks  happens… frequently. And most often, it isn’t about how much money you have in your pocket or in your bank account. It is about the aura you exude… and the amount of respect you can command.

Power dressing is important in this superficial (oh yeah, no sense in denying it) world. I don’t take it against people who value how they look in public. Others may have a different perspective. But working in a corporate environment for eight years before I settled into my current domesticated life, this lesson was well-received.

I am not an expert in make-ups and my wardrobe does not consist of the latest trends but I don’t hide the fact that I have a penchant for dressing up and wearing make-up. Others may smirk and even theorize that people who can’t go out of their house without make-up on are insecure. LOL. For me, that’s just the most insecure excuse I have heard. You can always say that you are not comfortable in wearing make-up but theorizing about the insecurity of another is another matter:-).

Others may claim that you dress up so you cannot be associated with the “lower class”. That’s just the most pathetic comment, so far… and so narrow-minded.

Every morning, I think about what to wear for the day. I don’t think about me being a wife or a mother. I am Me and I dress up according to how I feel… and how I will feel. Donna Karan says it well “Power dressing is now designed to let the woman inside us come through”.

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4 thoughts on “Power Dressing

  1. Hi there. I’ve been following Buhaykorea for over a year now and only recently did i take interest on clicking other links to this blog. So now I’m religiously following the blogs of Filipinos there in Korea.

    I would assume that what prompted you to write this blog was in relation to the comment you posted on the recent blog of Betchay and apparently, someone reacted to it.

    You know, physical appearance does matter especially when you are projecting a certain image. But what’s bothering is when you’re judged based on what you wear (and skin color as well).

    In my observation, very few countries discriminate people on what they wear. USA for instance, they aren’t really different from us when it comes to dressing up. Other Asian countries dress like Filipinos. I’ve not been to Korea but I had/have students who always tell me that Filipinos aren’t fashionable. In this case, I always find myself repeating to them the reasons why we aren’t fashionable. I tell them that Philippines is a tropical country. The weather is very hot all year round. We can’t wear what people in cold countries wear. At least we are wearing the most appropriate get up for the right weather.

    When my students ask me this question with a discriminating tone I get back at them. I simply tell them that many Koreans in the Philippines are dressing up the wrong way just so they could catch attention. And this makes them the laughing stock of Filipinos. Imagine, at 35 degrees, they are wearing thick, striped, knee high socks.

    Aside from that, I also told them that in the Philippines, we are not impressed by the brand or how one matches the pieces of clothing. Filipinos are more particular about the face and the body figure. In fact, we look oddly on people wearing thick make up and girls wearing mini-skirt with “curvacious” legs. And with that, my students keep quiet.

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