Style Living Self Celebrity Geeky News and Views
In the Paper BrandedUp Hello! Create with us Privacy Policy

Here's what drives Ayn Bernos to defy beauty stereotypes in pageantry and elsewhere

By JUSTINE PUNZALAN Published Mar 15, 2023 9:02 pm Updated Mar 15, 2023 9:15 pm

Opportunity was all that Ayn Bernos needed to fulfill her dream of joining beauty pageants. When the content creator finally got it in 2021, it did not come will all the glitz and glamour one would expect from pageantry.

Ayn has been wanting to become a beauty queen since she was a little girl but knew that she was "not qualified," given that she stands five foot three—one inch short of the minimum height requirement of local beauty pageants. 

When Miss Universe Philippines lifted the requirement entirely in 2021, the proud morena worked her way to be one of the pageant candidates that year and finished her journey in the top 16.

Apart from the extensive training before reaching the pageant stage, the MUPH 2021 candidate had to cope with all the negative feedback thrown at her, with regard to her physical appearance.

She revealed this to PhilSTAR L!fe and other members of the press who attended Lactacyd's #IAmWoman event at the Maybank Performing Arts Theater on March 8.

The beauty queen began, "When I joined Miss Universe Philippines in 2021, at 5'3", a lot of people said, 'Ang liit liit mo. Who says you can be a beauty queen? Who says you can be this, that...'"

"And I was like, 'If you are saying that about me, you are saying that to every Filipino who looks like me,' which is quite a lot 'cause I'm very common," she said with a laugh.

Ayn Bernos (middle) with TV host Bianca Gonzales, actress and model Cheska Kramer, and co-founder of Queer Safe Spaces Roanne Carreon at Lactacy's #IAmWoman event.

This is only one of the many instances Ayn was shamed for her body, as it doesn't abide by the "norm" of beauty pageants. She talked more about it in her YouTube vlog back in November 2022.

She said, “I’ve gotten feedback from so many people about what I should be doing. One in particular that stood out was somebody told me that I need to get to 105 pounds to look tall on stage. At that point, I was at 118 [pounds]."

Not only was she told to lose that weight in as fast as one month, but Ayn was also told to "shave" her cheeks off because she "looked big in interviews."

"I was also told to get veneers because they could do something about the positioning of my teeth so that I could look slimmer," she added.

While it's not easy to turn a deaf ear to all the naysayers that continue to call her "feeling vlogger, feeling beauty queen, ambisosya" up to this day, Ayn revealed at last week's event that she keeps on going, driven by her desire to represent and be an inspiration to all Filipinas.

And having the opportunity to become a social media personality has allowed her to do just that.

She said, "That was really something I had to struggle with growing up kasi I wasn't used to being in the spotlight, but I wanted to be... and now that I also get to be a person of influence, I guess I want to be that person as well for others."

"That is why it's very important, especially if you have your own sphere of influence, to be as confident as you can, to embrace yourself as you can because you're not just representing yourself but other women as well who are following your footsteps," she continued.

With that in mind, Ayn started her business Morena the Label in 2018, which offers merchandise designed to empower Filipinos with brown or dark skin. 

Five years later, Morena the Label is planning to transition into a non-government organization that will persist in raising awareness on colorism not just through its merchandise, but also by conducting studies and providing the youth with avenues to learn more about the social issue.

"We want to move forward with the advocacy and we really want to have more impact outside of awareness. Kasi when I was younger, first step was awareness, we wanna talk about it. And now everyone's talking about it, we wanna see what we can do," Ayn explained.

"What we hope to achieve is yung mga tangible effects of colorism, of discrimination. We want to do more research-based projects and at the same time, really change people from the grassroots level."

With all the unfavorable feedback Ayn has received in the past and will continue to overcome in the future, she advises everyone facing the same challenges as hers to learn how to step back and always look at the bigger picture. It is in this way that you'll be able to make a good impact not just on others, but yourself as well.

She said, "I always ask myself this question, 'What course of action is going to result in the best impact?' because honestly, I tend to also have this emotional response to a lot of things. Parang gusto ko magsabi ng masasamang words," she said jokingly. 

"But then you know, of course, sometimes we have to understand, maybe this is beyond us. Maybe this isn't personal, maybe it's just a reaction. And so I ask myself, 'What can I do now that can actually have a good impact as opposed to immediate response or immediate relief?'"

"When I think about that, I realize na, 'Okay, maybe there's a bigger picture. Maybe it's not about me, there's something else na we need to focus on.' And that really helps put things into perspective," Ayn concluded.