Kat Gumabao’s personality is as mighty as her size, and this I write matter-of-factly with no intentions of offending her. In truth, this is what anyone would pick up from listening to her talk to a crowd for more than 20 minutes. (The Gumabaos really have a way around public speaking, I reckon having seen Kat’s younger sister and my friend Michele Gumabao do it several times.) Kat recently spoke at Concentrix Philippines’ first ever Network of Women symposium, one of the BPO company’s projects that support and advocate women’s rights in the workplace. The 30 year-old plus-size model—chic in in her loose shirt, bomber jacket, skinny pants, and boots—excited the crowd of mixed genders with her tips on diet and fitness plus her fearless insights on what self-love really means.
With a society so obsessed over unrealistic ideals of beauty, Kat—given her success in international fashion—strives hard to make a difference. But how exactly does she do it? I got to pick the following #realtalk points from her very inspiring talk!
[related: In Focus: Concentrix PH Launches Network of Women]
Have a constant support group. Kat recognizes that your younger years can be really chaotic, confusing even. There are bullies, and so come the insecurities, she would know. So, how to endure through it? Turn to your family. “The reason why I was able to shake everything off was because I always came home to the loving arms of my mom and dad,” she recalls. “Unfortunately,” she continues, “not everyone has that type of support. Sometimes, the people we love the most are the people who hurt us the most. They are the first ones who will tell you, ‘What happened, you gained weight over the summer!’
Change your environment. Having overcritical and judgmental people is all part of it, and so Kat suggests completely ditching them in your life. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent,” she quotes Eleanor Roosevelt. “Because no matter what other people say, if you know your worth and value then what they say will never matter.” Apart from keeping it fierce on the runway, Kat is a volleyball player and a makeup artist for beauty brand NARS.
Improve yourself only for yourself. But Kat also says not to discount what others have to say about you, especially if it’s for your own good. “Improving yourself doesn’t mean you hate yourself. Make a change, not because you hate your body but because you love it,” she declares. She stresses that moderation is key—always. “Exercise to be fit not skinny. Eat to nourish your body. It’s okay to eat. Always remember that something excessive will always lead to something bad.” Kat herself tried a lot of diets that didn’t entirely work out, but cultivated her self-discipline anyway. Because of her hard work, she will fly to Paris and walk for Pulp Fashion Week. She is the only Filipina on the show. Right now, Kat is in New York for the Torrid Model Search, a branded modeling competition where the finalists will be walking at New York Fashion Week! Talk about living the dream!
Be your own kind of ‘unique.’ People come in different shapes and sizes—it’s a cliché but otherwise effective message that Kat imparts best in her speech. “Beauty does not have a weight limit. I want you to remember you are not a color, size, or shape. You are not an image, you are not an advert because you are a woman… I hope everyone in here aspires to be men and women who are soft-hearted but strong; self-aware but sure; respected for your mind and admired for your heart; honest, open and raw.”
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Photographs taken from Gumabao's Instagram