Is more really more? Our May cover babe does some self-introspection to stay in check
In this industry, it’s hard not to get wrapped up in its glitz and glamour. With all the shoots, press conferences and the ever-important social media presence, it becomes a little difficult to forget that not everything depends on a pretty picture. There’s a level of consciousness required to remember that depth matters, too.
I had worked with Gabby Padilla on a previous project that pushed her to be vocal on issues that matter, which includes (among other things) representation in entertainment, women’s rights and the future of the industry. From the get-go, it was clear to me (and everyone in the room) that the now 25-year-old actress has a lot to say.
Navy tulle dress, MIKE YAPCHING, black lace socks and silver cowboy boots, FOREVER 21
She was refreshingly vocal then and, thankfully, vocal when I sat down to interview her, one-on-one, for Wonder’s May cover. We talked at length about our month’s theme—Treat Yo Self—and how, in a society that’s generous with call-outs and yet called out for being too sensitive, one tethers the line between self-care and (excessive) self-indulgence.
We started things off simply enough. Knowing we wanted to work in a personal part of Gabby’s definition of treating herself, we asked her to bring an item of “self-indulgence” for the shoot. She came in with a sloth stuffed toy she endearingly calls Mr. Bartleby and explained that he was a representation of sleep, rest and relaxation.
But isn’t treating yourself synonymous to luxury, excess and purchases made out-of-the-norm? Sure, not everyone can save up for branded items, but sleep? Seems a little too within everyone’s reach.
“Growing up, [treating myself] was always enabling the voice in my head that said ‘Get it! Get it in every color!’ But as I grew older, it evolved into self-care,” explains Gabby. “It’s really just about being more mindful about what you let into your space and in your life.” And as she went on, I learned that sleeping is something she’d give herself more if she could.
Same, Gabby. Hard same.
“It’s really just about being more mindful about what you let into your space and in your life.”
Pink tulle skirts (worn as a dress), FOREVER 21, pearl chandelier earrings, AC +632, metallic mint green socks, FOREVER 21, blue green single-strap heeled sandals, CHARLES & KEITH
When we talked a little more about what she does to treat herself, Gabby quite freely admits that she sees a mental health professional when she feels a little overwhelmed. “Let’s say I have a reservoir and it’s filling up, and I need to unload,” she shares. “I sit down and talk it through.”
Being conscious of herself and knowing her own limits has evidently helped her a lot, but the casualness in which she admits needing help once in awhile caught me off guard. And it’s not even about scheduling an appointment for the actress; sometimes it’s about just sitting down with her mom.
“What I love about her is that she has this attitude where she’s always open to learning more about herself. And because we live together, I learned so much from watching that happen,” she says. “We have moments [when] we know the other kind of needs to slow down and talk…we just keep each other in check.”
But like we said earlier, our society isn’t the kindest and most forgiving when it sees you treat yourself to something good. People are made to feel guilty every day for buying things with hefty price tags. Strangers who have no right meddling in your buys will question why you didn’t just donate the money to charity instead. They’ll ask—as if you’re running for public office—why you’re on vacation when you could have been spending time with those in need. They’ll convince you that you’re okay when you aren’t.
It is this corner of call out culture that has a tendency to go a little overboard. But how do you shut it out?
Green cropped tube top, HANAMI MANILA, green floral printed silk slip, TOPSHOP, statement cocktail ring, AC +632, blue green suede heel, CHARLES & KEITH
“I guess self-care, in the age of social media, is learning how to be more deliberate with what you consume,” wonders Gabby out loud. “So whether it’s deleting an app, unfollowing, or taking a break from social media, I think it’s so important to be more mindful about what we spend our time and attention on. That’s one thing I’m still trying to learn, anyway.”
For Gabby, a storyteller herself, it also becomes a lot about the content that she creates and puts herself into. She asks: “Are we just adding to the collective noise?”
Pink ruffled top, HANAMI MANILA, white trousers, TOPSHOP, The Vermeer Shadow earring, THE FORE X PRANCA, basket bag, LOEWE
“I’m not trying to be a poster child for self-care or anything like that, but I do see [that] there’s this notion [that] self-care or treating yourself is all about indulging, indulging, indulging,” she points out. “But we really have to be responsible about it. [Myself] personally, I’m still learning how to do that.”
So yes, like the rest of us, Gabby Padilla does fall off the wagon when life hits a little too hard. She’s guilty of making purchases that provide instant gratification, especially when she knows that she’s put in the work and that she deserves it. But does this guilt have to be such a bad thing?
“Are we just adding to the collective noise?”
White gold studded long-sleeved top, TOPSHOP, white lace dress, SASSA JIMENEZ, pearl chandelier earrings, AC +632
“I think the guilt is a good thing because it keeps you in check,” she says. “It tells you, ‘Okay don’t go overboard.’” And it’s at that moment where you catch yourself for next time and ask these more important questions:
Is it really self-care?
Does it truly benefit me?
Will it help me in the long run?
Treat Yo Self doesn’t have to mean flashy or extravagant or expensive. Sometimes it’s just a matter of investing time in yourself—and that becomes more worthwhile than anything. A pretty picture is a pretty picture, but what is it worth if the feeling behind it doesn’t last?
Photography Wilmark Jolindon
Art and Art Direction Alexandra Lara
Interview and Cover Story Adie Pieraz
Fashion Direction and Styling Nicole Blanco Ramos
Beauty Direction Cessi Treñas
Makeup Sylvina Lopez
Hair Mong Amado
Location The Chroma Studio