Stacy Gutierrez’s biggest insecurities were always about her body.
“Growing up, it's always been about my weight,” said the model and podcaster during the 2021 #YouGotThis: Rewrite Your Story summit. “We’re really fat in our family. I don't even want to censor the word ‘fat’—it is what it is. Tabain talaga kami sa family. Growing up, even my own mom would tell me I was pretty but I needed to lose weight.”
She heard that kind of comment all throughout her life, even from her own relatives. “Hearing it at such a young age, and with no one really guiding you through it, you just take it and accept it,” said Stacy. “And kids are such sponges. My mom would always complain about her weight, she would always point out the issues about my weight… I didn't know any better so I internalized it as truth.”
Stacy grew up believing that she wouldn’t be enough until she lost weight. She tried all the diets she could and became obsessed with losing weight when she was in high school and college. "I didn't know much about health and nutrition back then, so I thought I would just starve myself,” she recalled.
The longest Stacy went without eating was three days. She was so weak and hungry on the third day that she started binge-eating, and then she thought she'd just purge. That became the start of Stacy’s eating disorders. “I reached a point where my hair was falling off and my nails were turning black,” she said. She didn’t know at the time that her eating disorder had gotten so bad, it was already at a near-fatal level. An intervention came in the form of her twin sister, Danah, who had caught her and told their mom about it. “I hated her for it,” quipped Stacy, but acknowledged that she is grateful for it today.
Stacy and Danah may be familiar faces because they pioneered the body positivity movement in the Philippines several years ago. Their advocacy started as The Plump Pinay and evolved into a (now defunct) web magazine, Plump.ph. In 2016, they released their book “The Big Fat Book of Self-Love.”
This advocacy was a huge part of rewriting their story of “I’m not enough because of my weight.” Stacy said, "We were vocal about body acceptance—because there are some things you really can't change anymore [if it’s part of your genes or your makeup]. We also encouraged women to not compare and not shame thin girls.”
The main message Stacy and Danah wanted to put out was, “Don't judge bodies, don't shame bodies and don't assume anything about bodies, because you really can't. The way a body looks is just the tip of the iceberg.”
But they came to a point where they found themselves rewriting that story again and moving away from their original advocacy. As the concept of self-love became more prevalent and more talked about, they found that the body positivity and self-love movement in general was taking a direction that they didn’t resonate with. “We had to regroup and rethink how we were going to position ourselves in this movement now,” she said.
They currently host their podcast, Raw and Real with Danah & Stacy, which features candid conversations on faith, life, and womanhood. "We just keep evolving and evolving and evolving,” said Stacy. “I think that's a beautiful thing. I think that's a good thing, that you're not stuck where you are and you can also learn to humble yourself enough to admit when the message is no longer right.”
Discipline and accountability are a big part of how Stacy defines self-love today. “Self-love to me now is looking at the ugly parts of yourself and confronting them. I get that affirmations are important, especially if you're insecure and your mind gets muddled with [negative self-talk. Affirmations] have a healthy place in bettering yourself, but you also have to take a good hard look at the ugliest parts of you, because we all have them,” she said.
Part of this process is being very honest with yourself, said Stacy. “Sit with yourself, take a good hard look at where you are, and have that healthy dialog with yourself: ‘What should I do to improve this? What should I do to change this?’ If I'm just going to keep covering it up with my good qualities, then I'm not evolving into a better person.”
She added, “Self-love is also learning when to stop and rest and when to push myself to be better. [It’s also] learning to give myself grace when I need it and constantly forgiving myself for all my mistakes in the past.”
Additionally, Stacy said self-love for her is “having the discipline to put in certain areas of your life,” and since the pandemic started, she has been practicing self-love through a consistent fitness regimen. She began by simply walking for 15 minutes a day and now she’s working out for an hour and a half daily. “I love it and I'm not even doing it to lose weight, it's really more of the consistency, the strength, the discipline,” she shared.
Aside from working out consistently, Stacy is currently a huge fan of journaling and reparenting herself. “Reparenting yourself means there's a kinder voice in your head that you use to talk to yourself. This voice is very helpful because it helps you to observe your thoughts first. I'm learning, whenever I have an intrusive thought, to detach myself first.”
Reparenting herself brings Stacy more awareness to the dialogue in her mind and frees her from being a slave to her thoughts. “It's difficult learning to detach but we have to realize that we can change our own minds,” she said. “To be the person you want to be, you have to reparent and talk to yourself.”
Her message to people who are struggling with body image and insecurity? “When it comes to dealing with your body issues, you have to ask yourself why other people's comments are so important to you anyway, why do you give them so much weight.
“We cannot control everyone’s comments. At the end of the day, what you can control is how you internalize these messages and how you react to these messages. Learn to deal with your own reactions and to know whose comments to accept. You don't have to accept every comment as truth. You don't have to accept every criticism as truth.”
“I've lived a very shameful life in terms of my body and it's a very sad way to live, it's so limiting,” Stacy said. “There is so much freedom in accepting your body and your looks for what they are and not letting it affect how you live your life. How we love ourselves will really determine how others love us, too.”
Watch the full interview with Stacy, titled “Fall in Love With Yourself: Cultivating Self-Love Through Consistency and Discipline,” here. (You can start at the 49:45 mark.)