“Don’t let anybody tell you you’re not beautiful. Know that you are,” athlete Gelina Luceño firmly speaks. With social media bombing our feeds with the ‘ideal look,’ it’s easy to get yourself onboard the insecurity train. But the NU rookie appreciates self-love. As she believes, if you want to see wonder in the world, you need to start seeing it in yourself. And that’s exactly what’s she’s doing.
Growing up, the 5’11 star spent years being overweight. At her biggest, Gel weighed 81kg. Though her height compensated for her mass, being body-conscious is inescapable. The standards in beauty are seen everywhere—on billboards, the television and movies, and on your phone. Just a quick scroll on Instagram, and voila! The neverending photos of the "ideal girls" will pop on your feed, with their "almost perfect" features. But the 19-year-old knows better than perpetually beating herself up for comparison. Kindness to yourself is key.
It’s how she consistently keeps her body issues at bay. She confesses, “Up until now, I think I still care about how much I weigh or how I look.” Now that she’s an emerging athlete, she’s able to lose the pounds. Gel is presently at her leanest, after working her body out for five to six months. “I really pushed myself to be able to get into the same level of fitness my other team members had,” she adds. There are days when she sometimes wouldn’t eat as much and think she’s fat, but maintaining a balance is a must. She’s keen on sustaining an equilibrium—of a sound mind and a healthy body.
Gel understands that people come in different shapes and sizes. The bullying and self-image problems most of the young ones encounter cause them to copy others, resulting to an ill relationship with themselves. What you can do, as Gel advises, is to surround yourself with a great support system who accepts the real you. And you can start with yourself.
“If you love yourself, things would just go differently. You can see the world in pink and be fun, rather than looking yourself and see it as gloomy. You won’t appreciate what life brings upon you,” she muses. The Bacolod native also shares her pampering routine, in case you need a love-yourself starter pack—a vanilla-scented room, a Rihanna-and-Beyoncé playlist, clay masks, nail polish in an array of colors, and a selection of her favorite sweets. Curate this according to your liking; what’s important is you enjoy and relax on your own, using that alone time to nurture and create a bond with yourself.
Her sport has also taught her the best self-love lesson. “I think the best way, in order for you to improve yourself, is to accept criticism, judgement, as well as your mistakes. Be open, that’s all. And be strong,” she spills.
Indulging in other pleasures and interests add to one’s enrichment. In Gel’s case, she dedicates her free time in singing and writing. Never doubt the things you want to pursue, she relates, and gain as much experience as you can. The constant pursuance will mold you into a better person.
It’s not giving up and finding beauty within that makes Gel strong. A battle with yourself is hard, it’s true. But never resign, take your time, and soon you’ll find peace and comfort inside your walls. Gel did—you can, too.
Photographed by Erwin Canlas
Creative Direction by Madel Asuncion
Art Direction by Mikka Caronan
Styled by Aldrin Ramos
Assisted by Daphne Aranilla and Sammie Rodriguez
Makeup by Janell Capuchino, Andi Sapina, and Jean Lim
Hair by Francis Guintu, Nikko Bruel, and Jhear Abellar
On Gelina: Dress and jacket by H&M, Body bag by Priscol
Catch the UAAP Season 81 Women's Volleyball games starting on February 16 on ABS-CBN Sports+Action.
ALSO READ: #TheStrongSide: These UAAP 81 Volleyball Stars Get Real On Embracing Their Truest Selves