I am happy with my body. It has taken me many years to be able to say that with full honesty.

Growing up, I had some insecurities. I hated that I had no curves to speak of, and felt so terrible about my skinny ankles that I would insist on hiding them under the thickest socks. This was exacerbated by being in a girls’ school, where comparison was rife. Being at that awkward, pre- pubescent age, where everyone’s body develops at a different speed didn’t help – I was a very late developer!

When I was spotted to model at 14, my insecurities were amplified exponentially. As a model, I was always told by my agency that I had to lose weight, and that I was neither tall nor thin enough for the runway (this was the era where the Kate Moss “heroin chic” look was in vogue – there wasn’t much room for the healthy, athletic look that is today’s ideal).

I joined the Miss Singapore Universe pageant in 2006 and, in the days leading up to the finals, I had never hated my body more. I lacked the enviable curves some of the other girls were blessed with, and the press noticed – and reported on it – as well.

The cruel irony was that I also felt “fat” watching some of the girls subsist on fruit during that period. Up to that point, I had never dieted before, but I felt pressured to do so for a week before the finals. Never mind the actual competition; I was fighting a losing battle over my self- worth, tied to my body.

I am not sure when I started to become happy with my body, but this definitely came with the passing of time. One of the joys of ageing is feeling a sense of acceptance and knowing that there is no point in coveting curves that I’m not blessed with – and learning to celebrate the parts of my body that I actually like.

Doing sports has definitely helped. While I have always done some form of competitive sport all my life, it was only as I got older that I became more thankful for how much my body can do, rather than how it looks. I still play competitive netball, in-line skate, rock-climb, hike, cycle and teach a weekly rebounding (trampoline) class. I also have much more energy than the average person! I will never be a curvy girl, but having a body fit and energetic enough to enjoy all of my favourite sports is more than enough for me.

This story first appeared in the July 2021 issue of Her World.