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Iza Calzado: Woman Empowered

With February nearly coming to an end, we wrap up our feature on our #CalyxtaGirl, Iza Calzado, who has been so wonderful and so generous in sharing her stories with us—from using her voice to inspire and empower others in our first cover, Year of the Woman, to talking more about The Body Love Revolution and her role in She Talks Asia, to her journey as a bride-to-be and Becoming Mrs. Wintle.

In this final cover story, Iza emphasizes her definition of a woman empowered, and discusses what she’d like to change about our society to empower others, advocacies she fights for aside from body love, and what her goals are for 2019.

What’s your definition of an empowered woman?

I think an empowered woman, first of all, can make decisions for her own life, and is totally responsible for herself. Sometimes, even for others. Right? But more of she can be responsible for herself, she is confident in who she is, especially to the point that she doesn’t need to pull down others in order to feel good about herself. Because there are people who are confident but need to pull down others in order to feel confident. An empowered woman cares—cares about what’s happening around her. For me at least, this is my definition because you’ve been blessed enough to be an empowered person. That means in some ways you can also empower others. An empowered woman also treats her counterparts justly and fairly. Self-sufficient, too. But when she needs help, she knows when to reach out.

If there’s one thing that you can change about our society to be able to empower more women, what would you change?

I hate that there’s injustice. I hate that there are people suffering. But at the same time, I tell you that I enjoy everything that I have as well. But my wish is not for me to let go of the things that I enjoy, but for everybody, if everybody could just have even just the basics—like three meals a day or whatever they want to eat, they can eat. Clean bathroom, clean bed to sleep on—basic things like that. Let’s not add having a Chanel anymore—that’s on a different level already. But the basic comfort, necessity, and rights of a human being—like access to health care and all these things, I wish we could all have it. Everybody in the world. But sorry, your real question is?

If you can change something about our society to empower more women, what will you change?

What would I change? I feel like a lot of women are empowered now. Actually, our biggest fear in She Talks Asia is people might be tired of all our empowerment movements. It’s hard—is it just a fashionable thing? No, because some people have fought for women’s rights. I think, yes, because the Philippines is one of the places that it can be a matriarchal society as well, but the patriarchal society is actually just really stronger. I don’t know the statistics. I wish I had my partner in She Talks Asia to give you the statistics (laughs). But there are still a lot of women who don’t get to enjoy basic rights or are stripped of it because of their belief that a man is more rightful to do these things towards them or you know, a man is entitled to cheat. Little things like that. Like it’s normal. So maybe what I could do, and it’s one of my dreams, because in She Talks Asia, we do a lot of conferences, but actually you need money to attend because we charge, because we need money to make an event. We hardly make anything at those events, and we have sponsors already. But I would first like to really go to the barangay level. That’s really where change needs to happen because I feel like a lot of women who have access to the Internet are not going to look for this. They’re not there searching for, “I want to feel empowered. What are the steps to becoming an empowered woman?” They’re searching videos of this or that. You know, they’re watching other things, which I don’t blame them for wanting to watch these things. They just have to know. So I guess my thing is I would love to be there and be part of educating them. But first, I need to educate myself as well because I need to be able to explain it to them right. Plus, I’m nowhere near where I need to be in order to be giving those talks. I’m a long way from that, but that’s the best solution really—to educate people. It’s also a way out of poverty, because once they find out that that’s how it is, and that they’re entitled to that, don’t you think it will be a revolution? They just don’t know it yet.

Aside from body positivity and self-love, what other advocacies do you fight for? Or are close to your heart?

Well, I’m with WWF but I don’t get to spend as much time with them as I do with She Talks. Because with She Talks, I’m part of the company. With WWF, I’m an ambassador. I don’t run things. I only get called when there’s something that we need to do. I want to be able to give it more time because I do care for the environment. I don’t know if people get it but self-love for me is a part of Mental Health. So for 2019, the biggest theme for She Talks Asia is really mental health, which I identified in March of 2018. It was shortly before Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. That’s when I really said that we really have to prioritize it, and it comes from a very personal thing. Maybe I’ll be sharing it this year, but that’s the reason why I’m very, very passionate about self-love. Of course, body love is the first step. If that’s your issue, right? But the self-love is so important for your mental health. That’s one area that I feel like I can also make a difference in people’s lives and in my life. Self-love advocacy is not just for others, it’s for myself as well. It’s been very helpful. I think I would have been more bridezilla if not for self-love.

My goals, I have a lot of goals, like I said: #BecomingMrsWintle. I’m trying to do a vlog. I want to learn how it is to become a housewife or just somebody who’s good at home, like to cook. Basically, I want to be independent. I have a lot of areas—I don’t drive, I don’t ride the bike, I don’t cook, I don’t clean, well hardly. I iron clothes though! I’m pretty good. Ben’s mum was pretty impressed with my ironing skills. She said I’m actually better than her, win! Celebrate small victories. Wait, let’s celebrate all victories—big or small. Ben’s mom is such a good homemaker. She cooks so well, she has so much style, she decorates the house really well, she’s clean, she’s neat. Not that she pressures me; not that Ben pressures me, but of course that’s what Ben got used to. It’s not that he really expects it of me, but of course I know that deep down in his heart, I know that it would make him happy. In the same way that there are things about him that I would like to see that would make me happy as well. I’m sure he’s putting effort into doing certain things to make me happy. He actually cooks more than I do. He was the one who taught me how to do scrambled eggs. Goals, I have a lot of goals. I’m part of a film that’s going to be quite demanding physically and thank God I don’t have to wear a swimsuit. I just want to be really, really fit for the action scenes. I know that my body will not be like Robin Wright’s body, because her body’s different so I’m not trying to target her body. But I just want to be as bad ass as her. So one of my goals this year is to really focus on that—strength work and just movement. Yeah. And honeymoon! We haven’t booked it yet, but it’s been my dream ever since and it’s because of Vicky Belo. Years ago when I was a new Belo endorser, she was taking about the most beautiful places she’s been to, and she said, “Of all the places I’ve been to, South Africa is really the most soulful experience.” So I googled it, and it looked so nice. The safari and all. I’ve always felt that I’m a wild animal, and I want to be with my fellow wild animals. (laughs)

You know how victim shaming is so prevalent now, how do you think we can eradicate that?

We can try our best to educate men, and to educate ourselves. I mean, I’m conflicted in some areas because I understand what they say that if you wear short shorts—that’s not an invite to rape, and that’s true. But when you go to the barangay, the men are not educated enough so that’s why I go back to education. We have to educate men AND women; not just women. The men have to really understand that this does not mean you can touch my thighs or my butt, or just because I’m showing my cleavage, I want you to rape me. In some ways, if you dress a little sexy, we’re all guilty of wanting to look good, but it doesn’t mean I want you to touch me or violate me. That’s what they don’t get. Really, the best way to do this is to educate—but it has to come from the top; from powerful people who have powerful and loud voices in the country. We follow our leaders, that’s all I can say. So I think it would be nice to see the leaders of this nation address these things, and really address it and help all of us make a difference when it comes to, not just victim shaming, but to equality.

Last question for this week, do you have any resolutions for 2019?

Oh my gosh. Resolution? Stay away from the oatmeal cookies. (laughs) I that already. You know, I like resolutions. Actually, it’s not a resolution. I call them my goals. I never write my resolutions. I don’t focus on what I don’t want to do. I always focus on what I want to do. A resolution is, “I’m going to quit this, I’m going to stop doing that.” No. I identify what I don’t want, but if I write it down, it’s from a positive perspective. Amen? Amen! I honestly have to stop swearing. (laughs) I guess, yeah.

Cover Story: Gretchen Gatan

Editorial Assistant: Maan Fernandez

Art Direction: Margaux Cortez 

Video: Richard Webb

Photo: Kitkat Pajaro

Makeup: Gela Laurel

Hair: Mong Amado

Styling: Yzza Hablado