February has always highlighted celebrating love with our significant others. But we at Calyxta have consistently been big believers of self-love, which we know isn’t about indulging in wine, bubble baths, or face masks—but more so being kind to ourselves, acknowledging our vulnerabilities, and yet still choosing to move forward and do better.
And this cover story focuses on just that. #CalyxtaGirl, Kylie Verzosa, is a self-love starter who shares that it’s important to put yourself and your needs first. In our interview, Kylie talks about developing self-love through various means and debunking the notion that self-love is a glamorous and indulgent journey.
February is the month of love and yet self-love can be underrated. For you, what does self-love mean and why is it essential?
Self-love means you can be selfish at times. Sometimes, it’s very important to think of yourself first. I always say, “How can you give love (to others) if you don’t have love for yourself?” So, it’s important to always put yourself and your needs first, before anyone else. Self-love is treating yourself nicely; talking to yourself nicely; accepting who you are including your flaws, and I guess learning how to spend time by yourself. I’m an introvert so naturally, I love spending time with myself—and this is the time I use to reflect and set my goals.
The art of self-love can be developed through various means depending on your own lifestyle and personality. How do you cultivate a deep and loving relationship with yourself? What are some hobbies and interests that help put your self-love into practice?
I love music. I love listening to music. Music grounds me. It can set the mood. It can set the tone whether I’m acting or I’m just doing a photo shoot. Music can set the tone of what I want to be or where I want to be. I love reading books as well. Because sometimes, I have a difficult time trying to find the right words–so when I read a phrase or when I read something that resonates with me, I’m like, “Oh, she gets me.” I love self-help books. When I read, I always want to learn. But recently, I also got into reading more fiction. I love Paulo Coelho books because, for some reason, his books are always in the female point of view.
He gets what a woman goes through—all the hardships. And as a woman, I feel the same way. I love writing. When I write, it makes me feel like me again. Because I have so much thoughts and emotions stuck inside me—that I have to write or put it out there. And honestly, exercising makes me feel good about myself! Not only physically but emotionally and mentally as well.
Many think the act of self-love is a glamourous, indulgent journey, but true self-love is allowing yourself to be vulnerable and work through your problems. Can you share with us a moment or an act of tough love that you had to undergo for yourself and how it helped you grow as a person?
Recently, I got into acting. And you know—who likes being a beginner at things? This is the time where you make mistakes, where you’re so vulnerable, you’re eager to learn but you’re still new. I guess this is where you’re most vulnerable, but also, it’s a beautiful stage because this is where you get to discover new things and discover new things about yourself. This is where you begin to feel challenged again, and be excited about learning again, and trying new things. I mean, it excites me even if I’ve fallen flat on my face a couple of times in public. I mean, it’s never a nice feeling but these are things that make you learn.
Self-love can be challenging at times, especially when it comes to dealing with other people’s criticisms. How do you handle these backlashes? How do you keep yourself going even after these low points?
It’s never easy handling backlashes or negative comments online. I have to admit—sometimes, as much as I try to stay away from them, I can’t help but scroll through one and then feel bad about it. But I always try to remember that they don’t know who I am. They don’t know the whole story. As much as I want to fight back or I want to talk back, I just keep it to myself and probably use that anger, or channel that somewhere else. I try to stay away from it, and if it’s true, I try to make myself better. But I always just listen to the people who are closest to me; the people who are important. For example, maybe in the acting department, it’s my directors, it’s my co-stars. Maybe at work, it could be your boss or your handler. But never look for validity online. I think that’s very, very dangerous, and that’s not good for your mental health. I think that’s one mistake that kids do these days. They look for approval through social media, and I think that’s not a healthy thing to do.
Living in a digital age, social media has reinforced insecurities and anxieties on many levels therefore making it harder for people to love themselves. What advice can you give to the youth struggling with these issues?
Never look for validity online. I’m actually glad that there’s this movement now where Instagram has been hiding likes, and I’ve experienced it because I handle Mental Health Matters and for some reason, it hides likes but on my personal page, I still see likes. I feel like it’s so much more peaceful when I don’t see likes because we tend to see the numbers. Know that what people post online is the perfect version of everything; the perfect version of themselves. What I want them to know is to find their own beauty or know that even without social media or even without validation, that they are valuable.
Being a beauty queen and actress comes with prestige as well as responsibility. You were gifted a platform wherein you can use your influence and voice to create a positive impact on other people’s lives. Besides taking care of one’s mental health, what are other advocacies that are close to your heart?
I really care about the environment. I try to consume only what I can. I also don’t eat a lot of meat because I know how strenuous that is for the environment. I try to do simple things. Like when I go to the grocery or when I do buy something, the simplest act like, “Ma’am, paper bag?” I’m like, “No, it’s fine. I can carry it, or I can put it in my bag.” What else? I love children. I have to say I love children. Any opportunity I get to help them or make them happy even just for a second, I’ll take the chance. I love anything in the fitness category. I’d join a fun run if I could, and if I do have time. What else? If there was an opportunity for me to save the oceans, or do an ocean clean up, I would. I’d take it. Those are the things I’m passionate about.
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Cover Story: Gretchen Gatan
Art Direction: Julia Benito and Trixi Ruiz
Makeup Artist: Anthea Beuno
Hairstylist: Mong Amado
Wardrobe Stylist: Adrianne Concepcion
Photographer: Charisma Lico
Videographer: Andrew Apuya