All these have brought about endless body image issues, poor self-esteem and online bullying.
I used to be chubby. Then, my peers would tell this “fatty” to go on a diet. I began to loathe myself, and I stopped snacking and took up more dance classes.
While I lost weight, the scars never went away and it later sparked a series of body image issues that affected me as an adult. It wasn’t until years later that I finally learnt how to love myself.
I spent four years in South Korea as a K-pop idol with the now-defunct group Skarf.
It was a dream come true. Dance is very much part of me. I was born into a family of ballroom dancers. My great-grandfather was Low Poh San, who introduced ballroom dancing to Singapore, and my parents are also accomplished ballroom dancers.
The time I spent as a K-pop idol was gruelling. While I enjoyed performing, the pressure was tremendous. My daily routine included practising up to 17 hours a day with my bandmates. There were (strict) rules to keep.
My manager took my weight every day to ensure that I was consistently losing weight. I couldn’t enjoy different foods, as I was put on a diet of mainly fruits and sweet potatoes. No meat, rice and bread, so they say.
I was tired, but I followed the rules. I saw it as a stepping stone to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. Inevitably, I allowed myself to be controlled by the unrealistic beauty standards.
Despite keeping in shape, I was pressured by the intense scrutiny on weight issues. I saw my industry peers being fat shamed online and that added on to my stress levels, as I was afraid of being the next victim. Yet I didn’t realise what was happening was wrong.
After leaving the K-pop industry in 2018, I was lost and even worked as a sales manager at a wholesale food company in Korea. I wanted to continue performing so I returned to Singapore.
I managed to receive callbacks from casting directors and that helped me regain my confidence. This time, I scored roles in local dramas and films that didn’t require me to fit into a size zero.
That’s not to say that I’m back to my old ways of incessant snacking. I’ve been more conscious of my health ever since. I’m also more aware of my mental wellness. Haters don’t get to me anymore.
This story was first published on Her World’s April 2020 issue.