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Manila, Philippines

Rica Peralejo-Bonifacio

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

Regrowth and white hair told me I needed to drop by the salon before the shoot. However on the day of my appointment with the hairdresser, sleep and cuddle time with my boys won me over. I know I would rather this for three hours instead of spending it in the salon.

My dentist warned — coffee will stain your teeth. Quit or drink with a straw for whiter teeth. But there is calm in directly sipping from my early morning cups of perfectly roasted, freshly brewed, and proudly local, coffee. I guess I would rather keep the ritual than a “perfect smile.”


"An image that comes from vanity is but a shell. It is hollow. It has nothing inside but has everything outside. On the other hand, beauty is not without story that connects with the soul. "


Last night I had my nails painted and the color didn’t make it to my toes because it felt too long a time to spend just on nails. (We were about to go for two hours.) I was already hungry, and wanted to see my friends. Food and friends over fingernails, always.

Killer looks really take pains. Vanity costs a lot of time. Money. There is a high price for those who see beauty as the source of security and I am not one of those who are willing to pay for it.

So, here I am. In my aging skin and ugly tan. Here I am with the side most people want to cure, fix, or hide. Here I am without anything to enhance the face, to fake the frame. Here I am without the usual work up we get when we are paid for trying to look like more than the “average Filipino.”

It is the side not all are delighted to see. A side that invokes filthy minds, dirty hearts, nasty mouths. The side only a few will understand. An uglier side, yet a truer side. While the other one covers, this won’t lie and yet some hate it. How strange. That others would rather be fooled for as long as they are pleasured.

But such is a good thing. When we sift between the eternal and temporal, spirit and skin, we know that we’d like to keep and which to discard. Those who only want to see you at your best only go as far as that. But those who would be willing to see you even at your worst, have the privilege of knowing the whole you and journeying all of life with you.

The pursuit of beauty is very different from the pursuit of vanity. We are made for the first, and ruined by the second. The New Oxford American Dictionary says, vanity comes from the Old French word, vanite, also from the Latin vanitas, well as vanus which means empty. An image that comes from vanity is but a shell. It is hollow. It has nothing inside but has everything outside.

On the other hand, beauty is not without story that connects with the soul. Dulce et Utile — Horace believed that a good piece of literary work must be both enjoyable and instructive, delightful and purposeful. I believe the same goes for beauty. It is a fuller expression when it is both pleasurable and inspiring. My unplanned tan lines, crow’s feet, white hair, saggy boobs, wrinkled abs, dry skin, cracked heels, fat loss, are all stories of strength and choices. I have chosen people and peace over a well sculpted shell and there is depth and richness in my relationships which I call, well, a thing of beauty. Beauty for in my 40’s is something deep, enriching, and experienced.

So to cap this off Dear Reader, here are a few reminders.

  1. Beauty and vanity are two different things.

  2. Vanity costs you much. One must ask the self: what does it take from me and am I willing to pay for it.

  3. The pressure to be vain is real because it is more celebrated.

  4. Beauty that is perceived through story is less preferred.

  5. Rarely anyone delights in the nuances of beauty, because it includes authenticity; truth can be offensive.

  6. Use this as a guide for life. Choose the ones who see you through everything, and discard those who only want to take what is eye-candy, less messy, and more manageable parts of you.

In the end, beauty cannot exist apart from love. All of us have it hidden in us, but only those with the eyes of love know how to find it, seek it. When s/he finds you, keep and never let go.

1 Σχόλιο

Wonderfully written. I didn't expect a 3-minute read article to challenge my perspectives about beauty, love, and everything in between and how they can inspire us to be the best version of ourself. Thank you, Rica.

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