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Tita Julie Shows Why Tita-Shaming Needs to Stop

by Ara Eugenio
Apr 6, 2021
Photo/s: Julie's Bakeshop

For its 40th anniversary, Filipino favorite neighborhood bakeshop chain Julie's Bakeshop jolted the internet with a jarring advertisement that carried an important message: #StopTitaShaming. 

What happens if you shame women who are middle-aged, but still capable of getting gym fit? "Tita Julie" will knead you into a dough, chop you into pieces, and turn you into a pandesal that everyday Titas love to have for breakfast with a side of coffee. 

The brand summoned masters of the bizarre, GIGIL ad agency, who since the pandemic, has pretty much earned its license to turn brands crazy, no matter if "serious" advertisers like it or not. In the end, they always seem to succeed at getting clients a shot at the viral spotlight.

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The ad trended for hours on Monday night and got people talking about one important topic which the brand probably hopes by now wasn't overlooked by the oddness of delivery: why do people shame Titas?

"Being tita is at the core of the brand," the ad's headwriter from GIGIL, Dionie Tanada, told reportr. 

"Like Julie’s, we want Pinoy titos and titas to embrace their age and prove tita shamers wrong. Like Mrs Julie Gandionco, kaya pa rin nilang abutin ang mga pangarap nila, anumang edad," explained Tanada about the spot's pure intentions. 


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Julie Gandionco founded the eponymous chain in her 50s. For the ad's creators, it was rightful that they launched the #StopTitaShaming campaign to celebrate her life that peaked at an age when most middle-aged women are typically relegated to the margins.

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Gandionco is proof that “when you say ‘Tita,’ it doesn't automatically mean you’re talking about women who are stuffy and formal. Titas can be cool and very dynamic,” said Marc San Juan, National Marketing Head of Julie’s Bakeshop.

How 'Titas' are shamed

Filipinos love and hate titas. Thanks to social media, the complicated legacy of these middle-aged, women figures that almost everyone has in their lives reached the confines of the internetinevitably at thatwhere they have since both been celebrated and scrutinized.

Perceptions of the "Tita" can vary across socioeconomic classes, and depends on who you ask, a 2016 University of the Philippines study said. 

After surveying over a hundred people across different age groups, what it found proved how so much has changed for the Tita. From its etymological roots, the Spanish word "tia", that only used to refer to a female sibling of one's parents, now, a Tita can be anyone as long as they look or act like oneno matter the age, it said. 

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"Kadalasan, ito ay ang mga nakakatandang babae na kung manamit at mag-ayos ay hindi gaanong pangkaraniwan, nakabihis pangsosyal o kaya naman ay nakasuot ng mga magagarang mga alahas," the study said.

The Julie's Bakeshop ad focuses on the following Tita stereotypes: they have a penchant for essential oils, an affinity for Zumba, well-maintained nail polish, and lastly, have no extra time outside their pamamalengke. 

These mirror bits of a stereotypical character that got so popular in the cyberspace, it has a dedicated Twitter account called "Titas of Manila" that has amassed over 200,000 followers since its creation in 2014. 

The persona reflects a more specific subculture of the broad "Tita trope"an urbanized, typically conyo and gossipy aunt whom you can trust to always find at the neighborhood Starbucks with her fellow Tita friends; if not, then they must be at S&R. 

This particular "Tita" is mostly seen as judgy, the kind you would want to stay away from in Christmas parties because of their usual "tumaba ka" remarks. But sometimes, they can also be very progressive (take Macoy Dubs' character "Aunt Julie"). 

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In defense of Titas

Midlife is cruel for everyone, if based on the prevalence of the so-called "midlife crisis", experienced by any gender. But maybe still not as cruel as it is for the middle aged woman. 

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Unlike men, who, in the context of online dating, tend to become even more desirable at age 50, perception of a woman's capabilities and worth diminishes with age. 

One study on employment sought a comparison between hiring desirability between men and women. They sent out fake résumés for job applicants categorized as young, middle-aged, and older. For both men and women, callback rates were lower for the older ones. But it also found that older women were significantly less likely to be hired, compared to older men.

When women do get described as having aged "like fine wine"—as in the case of popular celebrities like Ina Raymundo, aged 45, or in the U.S. Jennifer Lopez, aged 51it's only because they look a certain way: someone beautiful and "youthful".

So, maybe for these reasons alone, Titas deserve more kindness and patience from everyone, as Julie's Bakeshop's ad ultimately argues. 

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“I agree! #StopTitaShaming!!! Kalurx, di porket tita na kami, limitado na lang ang pwede naming gawin. Hahaha!”, Kris Aquino's popular impersonator and Youtube personality, Tita Krissy Achino, said in the ad's comments. 


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