Venus Raj: ‘Ladies, your worth is not defined by your weight!’

Published September 15, 2021, 6:57 PM

by John Legaspi

The former beauty queen opens up about gaining weight and losing confidence

Many people may not see it due to their grace and poise, but beauty pageant candidates carry a lot of pressure on their shoulders. Competing is more than just looking, and more often, just like in sports, the most challenging part is the mind game. We are not talking about the Q&A portion of the contest, but the pre-show. Self-doubt can throw any off their game. And in a pageant-obsessed country like the Philippines, the mental challenge and fitting into crazy beauty standards continue years after they competed.

Venus Raj wearing Francis Libran (Photo by Jacques Arado)

That is what Venus Raj candidly shares in her recent post on social media. Being a former Philippine representative at Miss Universe, the one who started the country’s longest semi-streak in the pageant, the Bicolana beauty felt incompetent as a model after not doing shoots for a long time and gaining a few pounds.

She begins by asking the question, “You know that feeling when you can’t do the things that you used to do excellently?”

“Let me explain to you what I mean by that. It’s been a while since I did a photo shoot. [The] truth is I can’t remember when was the last one. So recently, this shoot was organized. And we finally did it,” she continues. “How did I feel? I felt so rusty! Lost the confidence to model in front of the camera. [I] was so conscious about my body because I gained weight. And a bit sad that I can’t do excellently this thing that was so easy for me to do in the past.”

The 2010 Miss Universe fourth runner-up expressed her frustration and also wonder how many women feel when they hear the phrase, “Uy! taba mo na ah! (You’ve gained weight!),” or when they are unable to do things they do successfully in the past.

But instead of focusing on the negative, Venus wants to let every Filipina know that they are beautiful and that they should never let the digit on the scale pull down their confidence. She does it while embracing her new self wearing an art deco-inspired Filipiniana by designer Francis Libiran, posing in front of photographer Jacques Arado’s camera.

“Ladies, I feel you. But let us not allow others and even our self-perception to steal the joy in our hearts,” Venus muses. “Yes! Let’s live a healthier life. Eat healthy food. Exercise for the right reasons. Ladies, your worth is not defined by your weight! This shoot has been an instrument for many realizations.”

After her reign as Binibining Pilipinas Universe 2010, Venus went on and got a master’s degree in Community Development from the University of the Philippines Diliman in 2017. Last June, she graduated from Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics (OCCA) in Oxford, England.