Hidilyn Diaz is primarily known as a champion weightlifter so she wouldn’t usually be top of mind when talk turns to modelling or getting all glammed up. Seeing her walk down the runway during Avon Fashions’ Intimate Apparel launch would have you thinking twice, though. Wearing a bra top, wide-leg trousers, and a stylish blazer, she held her own beside seasoned models and well-known personalities like Wilma Doesnt, Tricia Centenera, and Jennylyn Mercado.
She would be first to admit that this kind of comfort did not come naturally to her. “Hindi drastic ‘yun. Dahan-dahan siya.”
Hidilyn hails from Zamboanga, and holds the rank of Airwoman First Class in the Philippine Air Force. As a weightlifter, she has competed in several Summer Olympics and is an Olympic silver medalist. While being an award-winning weightlifter is something to be proud of, it brought insecurity when it came to her self-image.
“Noong bata ako, talagang hindi ako kumportable sa kung sino ako,” she recalled. “Talagang macho ako, so insecure ako sa sarili ko. Tingin ko sa sarili ko, pangit ako.“
Her muscular physique would prompt people to criticize her, as if she was less beautiful because of it. “’Yung kahit lumabas lang ako ng bahay na naka-sando, sasabihan ako ng ‘uy, ang macho-macho mo.” These painful comments would make her feel inadequate and insecure. “Pagbalik ko, naka-jacket na ako. Nahihiya ako.”
An injury led her to be taken out of the National Team, and it was then that she realized that she not only did weightlifting because she was good at it or because she had to, but because she actually loved it. “Na-realize ko na mahal ko ‘yung ginagawa ko, at kailangan mahalin ko din ‘yung sarili ko.
“As a weightifter and an athlete, kailangan nating tanggapin ang katawan natin,” she said. Hidilyn has come to realize that her body is not something to be ashamed of, because it is a product of her hard work. “Natuto akong mahalin ang ka-machohan ko at ipinapakita ko sa buong mundo na ito ‘yung hard work na ginagawa ko.”
Hidilyn shared what she learned with other women. “Umalis kayo sa comfort zone nila. Kung sino man sila, mahalin nila kung anong meron sila. Dalhin mo ang sarili mo at ipakita mo na confident ka.”
This acceptance and love of self makes a difference. “Kung may tiwala ka sa sarili mo, kung ay pagmamahal ka sa sarili mo, ma-aachieve mo din ‘yung panagarap mo.”