The body is a testament to God’s creativity. It can hop, skip, run, stretch, jump, leap and bend– all in a matter of minutes. It has neurons and veins; vessels, capillaries, and an aorta that regularly pumps blood. It begs to be marvelled at. But the daily grind of everyday life — stress, hunger and fatigue — conceals its greatness. Once the body is seen as commonplace, people tend to wreck it.
Stacy and Danah Gutierrez love their bodies. Not with a half-hearted appreciation, but with great and passionate gusto. The twin sisters, 19-years-old, have been active advocates of the Body Appreciation campaign for practically a year already. In 2009, they began a self-empowerment blog called The Plump Pinay to encourage other Filipinas to love themselves completely, no matter their weight or shape. It has attracted over 500 followers to date.
“Why don’t you see yourself as blessed for having a complete and healthy body?” Stacy writes in the second entry of the weblog. “Stop conforming. You were made that way for a purpose: to exude your beauty and show this messed-up world that you are unique and you choose to disregard the media’s stupid demarcations on beauty.”
Of course, the girls didn’t always feel that way.
In their third year of high school, insecurity started to get the best of Stacy. Her twin was thinner than her, and people were starting to notice. “I loved eating,” she wrote in a speech for Toastmasters International, a non-profit educational organization. “At the same time, I wanted to mold myself to become a modelesque teenager. So after wolfing down the entire kitchen cupboard, I rushed to the toilet and stuck a finger down my throat. I did the same thing after lunch the next day, and after having dinner too… this was where it all began.”
Danah, on the other hand, began an obsession with calorie counting. She would also exercise daily — sometimes even twice a day — in an effort to shed pounds.
After two months, Stacy lost 30 pounds off her original weight. “I started getting attention,” she says. “And it definitely stoked my ego.” While their individual efforts to lose weight led to VTRs and commercial ads, bulimia started to take its toll on Stacy. Six months after she began bingeing and purging, her teeth began to discolor, and her nails began to blacken.
It was only when Danah caught Stacy in the act of throwing up in the bathroom that things started to turn around. Their mom rushed Stacy to the hospital, and the road to recovery for both of the girls finally began.
“I had to stay in the hospital for one week. I wasn’t allowed to go to the bathroom alone. It sometimes got on my nerves, but I had to pay for the consequences of my actions. I regressed thrice until I eventually understood the word ACCEPTANCE,” Stacy recalls. “I had to accept my body. I just had to. There was no point in forcing my body to become something that it just wasn’t made to be. I realized that beauty truly is from the inside and feeling good about your body is the key to looking beautiful.”
Danah recounts when the girls began to know the Lord more, shortly after Stacy’s hospitalization. “Friends would invite us to church events,” she says. “And slowly, we began to know more about what Jesus did on the cross.” The joy they have now, the contentment and peace that they have, come not only from winning an internal struggle with themselves, but from finding their worth in a God who epitomizes beauty. Danah states: “It’s realizing that we are Princesses of a King that changed things.”
It makes sense that only upon encountering Real Love did real love for self begin. Today, the twins pioneer a revolution that aims to reach out to girls who struggle with their self-image. It is the dream that God has put in their hearts. They aspire to put up a clothing line that will cater to women of every size and, hopefully, later on, a magazine.
The media’s opinion fluctuates, but God’s standard of beauty is eternal. What we see as ordinary, He sees as majestic. The body that can hop, skip, run, stretch, jump, leap, and bend was made to worship Him. It was made to seize greatness, to be humbled, but most of all, it was made to bring awe. Stacy and Danah, two extraordinarily beautiful women, are proof that when the psalmist wrote: The King is enthralled by your beauty, he was talking about you.
For more about Stacy and Danah, visit: www.theplumpinay.com