Two Cents · Unpopular Opinion

The Bayo “What’s Your Mix?” Campaign: this post is 80% rant

For days now, I’ve been trying to figure out why I was so outraged by Bayo’s “What’s your mix?” campaign. It may have been the first paragraph:

This is just all about MIXING and MATCHING. Nationalities, moods, personalities and of course your fashion pieces. Call it biased, but the mixing and matching of different nationalities with Filipino blood is almost a sure formula for someone beautiful and world class. We always have that fighting chance to make it in the world arena of almost all aspects. Be it Fashion, Music, Science and Sports. Having Filipino lineage is definitely something to be proud of.

I was outraged at the atrocious grammar, sentence structure, and word use. Ha! Aside from that, let me count the ways:

1. I don’t like the idea that the term “mixing and matching,” which definitely applies to fashion pieces, can be used to refer to nationalities, moods and personalities. Fashion is an art. You can’t use the same concept in mixing and matching the right nationalities to create something aesthetically pleasing. It’s a bad analogy. It’s not even a metaphor. Goodness, Filipino blood is not a plaid shirt.

2. I don’t like the use of the phrases “this is just all about” and “call it biased”. It sounds like linguistic hedging for me, but instead of softening the impact of the words, I am even more fully convinced that the ad is biased — and condescending.

3. I don’t like the idea that mixing Filipino blood with foreign blood is a “formula”. I think most of us can agree that a lot of part-Filipinos really are good-looking, but I disagree that it’s some secret magic formula that everyone must mix in their chemistry sets to ensure beauty and success in the future. For me it’s like, “You like beautiful progeny? Here’s a formula — marry a foreigner!” Dammit, but I will bear brown-skinned kids with “pure” Pinoy blood as beautiful as me. Ha.

4. I don’t like that sentence, “We always have that fighting chance to make it in the world arena of almost all aspects,” coming right after that sentence about Filipino blood. See, it seems as though bearing part-Filipino children gives us “that fighting chance”.

Okay, I won’t pretend to be self-righteous because I’ve fallen into the pit of colonial mentality one too many times. Heck, I still buy a skin toner and a moisturizer that supposedly erase dark spots and give me a rosy-red glow. Aside from that, the mentality has become a harmless part of my culture, as over the years my loved ones and I have either teased or self-deprecated ourselves about our color or noses. My family would lovingly tease Papa about what he himself calls his makalat nose. Some of my co-teachers and I would call ourselves “Brownies” and say that the room is getting darker when we’re all together. We’ve all seen our high school students harmlessly tease each other that way — sometimes we even join in. It’s an irreverent sort of good, clean fun, and I like to believe we’re all aware of that and of how it’s not going to affect how we deal with people. But, obviously, the implication of the more attractive race is still there, or else we wouldn’t be teasing ourselves about it.

Also, sadly, a few friends have had experiences in which less open-minded in-laws would comment about how, say, dark my friend’s skin is compared to her mestizo husband’s. At first I couldn’t even believe there still exist people like that. How naive I’d been.

I think the media has been especially instrumental in promulgating this thought. It’s rare to see a female star with dark skin on Philippine TV, and if there is one, a month later she would have visibly lighter skin. Every commercial break is sure to feature a whitening product — that features an already tisay actress — as if advertisements are truly bent on dumbing us down! But apparently, they sell. They work on me. So I guess, in a way, this whole “What’s Your Mix?” brouhaha has done what many other adverts have not: got people thinking twice about the way they perceive beauty. I hope I’m not being overly idealistic when I say that this could be a tipping point toward a change in our outlook.

The last part of the Bayo advert, by the way, needs to be mentioned:

We at Bayo believe that the key to your fashion is knowing

What’s your mix?

And lastly, BUY FILIPINO

It’s really funny how the last line looks like it was an afterthought: “Oh, by the way, after this lengthy and incoherent exposition, BUY FILIPINO!”

Meanwhile, I’m stumped because I’ve never cared about my “mix” whenever I buy clothes. And because my sense of fashion is part of my identity (to my thinking), suddenly these last three lines seem to be a statement of identity. I don’t like the implication, either — do I dress as I do because I’m “100% Filipino”? Am I who I am simply because I’m of the Malay race? I don’t think so.

We’ve got to go beyond thinking that one’s identity has to do only with one’s race. I could even argue that we are a hybrid culture (not a hybrid race) anyway, so there’s no point in putting percentages on our Filipino-ness or Australian-ness or whatever as we simply can’t quantify the “amount” of foreign culture that we have.

Actually, there should be no point in the very idea of such percentages in the first place. If you love the Philippines and would do your best to improve its condition above all, then you’re a Filipino. That’s who you are; that’s your identity — and you’d be crazy to put percentages there.

#

Some links:
The Tyranny of Tisay Beauty is inspiring: “It’s okay if you’re not mestiza. Really. That is one of the most profound truths I wish to impart to my 6-year-old daughter.”

Bayo apologizes, says ad “unintentional”. Tonight, at least one advertising agent won’t be able to sleep.

The 7 best Bayo parodies online. What can I say, it’s more fun in the Philippines.

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4 thoughts on “The Bayo “What’s Your Mix?” Campaign: this post is 80% rant

  1. Right, right… Copycat Bela Padilla’s situation (FHM magazine racism)… They wanted BBC coverage for free, eh?

    1. It really is poorly conceptualized! It could have done with a catchy sentence or two without sounding like we’re quantifying race and equating it with fashion/identity. The “50% Australian, 50% Filipino” was bad enough, but that pseudo-essay totally ruined it.

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