Exclusive! Cai Cortez Bares It All About Bullying, Fat-Shaming, And Self-Confidence

Exclusive! Cai Cortez Bares It All About Bullying, Fat-Shaming, And Self-Confidence

Cai Cortez speaks exclusively with HerStyleAsia about her brand of humour, her work as a body positivity icon, and what she hopes millennials would do online

Filipino celeb Cai Cortez wears many hats. She's is a successful actor, comedienne, a family gal, the daughter of veteran actor Rez Cortez, and most importantly a body positivity advocate. Her class of funny doesn't come from self-deprecating humour, but from self-acceptance, which is what makes Cortez a millennial role model. 

She credits her confidence to her parents, who she says instilled it into her and often encouraged her to fight back bullies. This helped her develop her fierce and unabashedly honest personality. 

Cortez spoke exclusively with HerStyleAsia about her brand of humour, her work as a body positivity icon, and what she hopes millennials would do online. 

Body Positivity Advocate Cai Cortez On How She Got Into Comedy 

 
 
 
 
 
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HSA: How did Carissa Cortez become comedienne Cai Cortez?  

Cortez:Ever since I was a kid I always saw myself in the entertainment business. If not an actor, behind the scenes. So for college, I took up theatre in UP Diliman. (Plus), my father, Rez Cortez is an actor as well so I was always drawn to the business. I didn't really choose comedy, I'd like to believe it chose me. 

HSA: Did you face any challenges in becoming a successful female comic? 

Cortez: No. I didn't feel any difference. 

HSA: What change do you wish to bring about with your comedy? 

Cortez: That finally, a big girl isn’t poking fun at herself just to get laughs. I'd like to believe that my comedy is sassy and witty without having to bully someone else or myself. 

HSA: How do you use comedy to spread more meaningful and important societal messages?

Cortez: Making at least one person smile in my opinion is enough to prove that I am doing something right. Just one plus size woman, that tells me that i inspire her to be more confident, validates my cause. Because when I was younger, there weren't many big girls representing my body type, so there weren't any examples for me to follow and say, hey! I am pretty! 

Or I'm sexy! So i guess just being here shows girls who are like me that they can reach their dreams too. No matter what body type you have. 

HSA: Do you see any change in the mindset of people, especially regarding weight? 

Cortez: Yes of course. Just the fact that there are more people in the industry that aren’t a size zero shows society is more inclusive when it comes to what is 'beautiful.' 

Cortez Fought Bullying And Fast-Shaming With Confidence 

 
 
 
 
 
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HSA: You've mentioned several times that you fought bullying with your confident fierce personality. How did you do that? 

Cortez: Ever since I was young, I never tolerated bullying. Yes, I can take jokes regarding my weight but I always stepped in whenever I felt that someone is being bullied even if its “just for laughs.”

Thankfully in my school, bullying wasn’t that bad so I guess I saw first hand that its possible to be in a school setting that upholds respect and love. So when I got to college mejo nakakaculture shock (I got a culture shock).

But at the same time since my standards are high on how people should treat each other, I never hesitated to speak my mind and voice my opinion on how people should treat other people. 

HSA: How did you deal with fat-shaming as a young girl?  

Cortez: I never saw my mum get affected with comments like that, I learnt that other people’s opinions of me doesn't matter. 

HSA: How did you deal with it?

Cortez: Smile lang. And remember, nothing's impossible. Because even big girls can be sexy.

 
 
 
 
 
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HSA: You are a body positivity role model yourself. But who do you consider your role models? 

Cortez: My parents. My mum is a big sexy woman and I guess I got my confidence from her. (My dad naman obviously, passion ang acting and ako yung nagmana sa passion niya.) Obviously, my dad. His passion is acting and I inherited that from him. 

HSA: Why must millennials wake up to the ill-effects of fat shaming, with urgency? 

Cortez: Because bullying is never acceptable. It ruins self esteem, which make people hate themselves. Therefore, hating on other people. And the cycle goes on. 

HSA: What's your message to millennials about fat-shaming? 

Cortez: Just lead by example. Wearing whatever I want and not letting any fashion 'rules' take over my choices. And I often post funny inspiring messages on my Instagram that thankfully girls read and message me that it helps then build more self confidence. 

Feminism Is All About Respect: Cortez

 
 
 
 
 
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A vocal advocate of feminism, Cortez also spoke to us about her notion of feminism and what she thinks millennials ought to do to bring about more awareness on the subject. 

HSA: What is feminism to you? What role does it play in your life?

Cortez: Feminism is respect. 

HSA: Do you try to teach your kid about feminism? Or will you? 

Cortez: Of course. Again by example on how my husband and I treat each other, hopefully our son will do the same if not more, when he grows up. 

HSA: How do you think millennials can contribute to make this a more equal world?  

Cortez: Talk. Not fight. Not insult someone with a different opinion. Our generation is fortunate to have a platform wherein we could voice out our opinions and also listen to others. And I find it beautiful whenever I see meaningful, important topics being discussed respectfully online.
 
In this day and age, the pressure to excel is much heavier because of social media. Comparing yourself to your peers or idols who seem to have their whole lives all together wrapped neatly with a cute bow, easily makes us feel like we are inadequate, or 'left behind.'

Comparing yourself to others may sometimes be a catalyst for us to strive to be better, but most of the time it becomes a toxic blanket that just weighs us down and leads us into a rabbit hole of self doubt and hopelessness.

Just because a person looks happy in their profile, does not mean they are successful in all aspects of their lives. So go live your best life without comparing yourself to anyone, live it at your own pace, with your own rules. 

Cortez, Omega's Newest Brand Ambassador 

 
 
 
 
 
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HSA: How has being a part of the Omega family changed your life? 

Cortez: Being an ambassador for Omega showed me that there are many ways to show how much you care for your loved ones and one of them is by using the best tools to serve the best people in our lives. Serving my family their favourite food is really an expression of how much I love them. Because it is a labor of love, and what better way to better this experience by using top of the line, durable, and beautiful cookware and dinning ware without breaking the bank. With Omega’s products, working the kitchen has been a breeze. 

I am so thankful that I get to be a witness to OMG moments in our online series because I also see how a person’s self confidence improves when Omega gave them the tools to express their love for themselves and loved ones. Thank you Omega! And I hope more people get their OMG moment soon. 

Also read: How This 28-Year-Old Filipino Lost 30 Kilos In Six Months

Written by

Deepshikha Punj