About a month or two ago a colleague shared an article on his FB page about how people have a fascination with super heroes – Halloween is the best manifestation of how humanity tries to find a superhero in all of us. The flip side of being a super hero is that of our alter egos, mimicking real life, our real life kryptonite, if you will. When I read the article, it had dawned on me why I loved and always wanted to be my dream super hero.
Most people won’t remember the name Diana Prince, but will remember her super hero name, Wonder Woman. While my go to Halloween costume is to be Wonder Woman every year and any year, I related more to Diana Prince. Diana Princes’ character was that of a military intelligence officer who was often sought out for her problem solving and investigative skills – she was admired for her intelligence. Growing up and all through high school, I was the sister that was the smart one. My sister was smart as well, but when asked recently, “Who is the smart one and who is the pretty one,” my answer was, “I’m the smart one; my sister is the pretty one.”
I knew this because despite the fact that both my sister and I were both high achieving scholars throughout high school and in college, my sister always had the boyfriends – and when you’re young and naïve, having a boyfriend – especially having a number of interested suitors – meant you are desired because of your beauty. I was not this beauty, or so I believed. While I love my family, Filipinos can be too blunt and honest – especially when you’re younger. Whenever we went back home to the Philippines as kids, I was more on the chubby side compared to my skinny sister, and as a result, was often told by relatives how much fatter I was, or how I needed to lose weight. They even had a nickname for me, “Tabah” which means, “Fatty.” As you can imagine, this didn’t help my self-confidence and why I continue to struggle with weight to this day. So, I wore my badge of honor of intelligence like a steel armor and played my role as the smart one really well. I mean I have three degrees, one of them being terminal, can we say “over achiever”? I focused on what I knew I was good at, because I knew this was my strength.
Diana Prince also wore her badges of intelligence well, wearing her hair in a bun and hiding behind thick, black framed glasses. But when she transformed herself into Wonder Woman, twirling herself round and round in circles, into this beautiful goddess who lived on Paradise Island and flew in a see-through glass jet for transportation, I so wished I had her power. I so wished I could be her, to be Wonder Woman. I wished I had her power of transforming from the smart girl that I only knew how to be, into this beautiful super hero, who was not only smart, but powerful. I recognize beauty is not everything and it is only skin deep. But when you’ve grown up believing that intelligence is all you have, that you’ve never been the pretty one in the family, it’s hard to see what others see in you.
As I write these words, I know there are many out there that could not imagine that I would think that I was anything less than pretty or desired. But it is true, there was a time I would not have the confidence to even think of being in front of a camera for a photo shoot or a print ad. In the last 3 years, I have accomplished both – nothing high profile, but enough to let me know the epitome of Wonder Woman does exist inside me.
We all battle with issues of our past, that’s why I try not to judge because I don’t know where a person’s been, or what they have survived. Sometimes the way a person is, is because that’s all they know who to be. Luckily, we have super heroes all around us, amongst our friends & family, to model the love and kindness that we are all capable of owning and sharing. Fight your Kryptonite. Trust the love of your friends & family who uplift you – their belief in you and of you are more important than your critics. There IS a super hero in all of us. In the words of Wonder Woman, “Keep faith, trust to love. Fight with honor, but fight to win.”