Reaching new heights through fitness
Meet three hopefuls at this year's DreamGirl Singapore, a beauty pageant for petite women
Even though she holds a full-time job as a web designer, Miss Chen Simin still enjoys competitive cheerleading on the side, having been active in the sport since 2008.
At 1.5m, she is the shortest contestant competing in DreamGirl Singapore 2017.
However, she has never been insecure about her height - she embraces it.
Miss Chen, 27, told The New Paper at the media launch last Saturday: "I love my height. It is actually my confidence booster because short people like myself get to do many more things in cheerleading.
"It is easier for the base (people who stand on the ground to lift other members off the ground) to carry me and toss me into the air before catching me."
Now in its third year, DreamGirl Singapore is the first local pageant for petite women below 1.65m, with an emphasis on empowering women through fitness.
Instead of being assessed by typical beauty standards, some of the physical activities contestants have to ace - related to this year's theme of Protect & Empower - include Brazilian jiu-jitsu, catch-wrestling, kickboxing, pilates and even burlesque dancing.
The finals will be held on Aug 26, where the top 10 finalists face off in a sparring contest and execute a fight-choreographed dance segment conceptualised by former local actor Vincent Ng's martial arts school.
Challenging personal limits is not a problem for Miss Chen.
She is so serious about enhancing her body that she wakes up at 5am daily to work out at the gym before heading to work, and she has customised meals planned every night by her personal trainer.
She said: "When I first started cheerleading, I was around 46kg.
"It is considered heavy because others will not want to toss you as it is difficult.
"At that point in time, I was so stressed (because) I wanted to lose weight to meet the target weight (of below 45kg)."
In 2015, she hit 49kg, which made it harder for her to engage in cheerleading stunts.
Since then, she has abstained from fast food and also taken an interest in bodybuilding.
At the National Amateur Body-Builders' Association World Fitness Federation bodybuilding competition, Miss Chen was crowned champion in the Ms Bikini Model <163cm local category.
Last year, her cheerleading team - from Potong Pasir Community Club's Youth Executive Committee - took part in the Asia Cheerleading Invitational Championships and finished as champions in both the Asia and local categories.
She has also performed at the Asean Para Games and the Standard Chartered Marathon.
Miss Chen, who now weighs 44kg, said: "Through DreamGirl Singapore, I hope to boost my confidence and learn new things which I usually won't get to do because I have no time.
"I also want to influence others, especially short women, that they can also do lifting."
She loves risk and adrenaline high of sports
Since she was 10, Miss Melissa Ang has loved sports, from skateboarding to neighbourhood football.
She went on to take up taekwondo as a co-curricular activity in secondary school and Singapore Polytechnic, from which she recently graduated.
Having previously fought in various inter-school competitions, she also won a gold medal in 2013 at the Singapore Youth Olympic Festival and is a national youth taekwondo representative.
In addition, the 20-year-old does boxing two to three times a week and runs at least 1km twice a week, on top of rock climbing and kayaking once a month.
Miss Ang, who is 1.64m and weighs 54kg, told TNP: "What sparked my interest in these sports is the element of risk, I really love the adrenaline high and thrill I get from them."
It is her first time joining a pageant and DreamGirl Singapore's theme, Protect & Empower, drew her to it.
She said: "I feel like our current generation value themselves based on other people's judgment, appearance, or likes and followers on social media.
"But DreamGirl takes that away from you as it looks at your determination and abilities which are more admirable traits."
- CHARMAINE SOH
Forget being a princess, she'd rather be a warrior
Although she is still studying for a diploma in game development and technology in her final year at Nanyang Polytechnic, Miss Jenny Liang already has plans to sign on with the Republic of Singapore Air Force as a Weapon Systems Officer (WSO) after she graduates.
A WSO acts as the wingman of a pilot, and the job scope includes mission planning, flight navigation and manning the on-board weapon systems.
Initially, she had wanted to join the army as an infantry soldier or guard.
But the tough cookie eventually applied for the WSO position after finding out her personality suited the job through a career counselling session.
The 21-year-old, who is 1.65m and weighs 56kg, told TNP: "After doing research, I found that I like the job, as it involves observation and taking on leadership roles, which I am familiar with."
Miss Liang is in Safra's dragonboat team and is committed to training three times a week to "test her endurance" and "work on her core and back", on top of gym sessions, which takes up another three days.
She credits her strong physical and mental state for giving her the confidence she needs for DreamGirl Singapore.
Miss Liang said: "What makes me stand out from other contestants is that I want to be a warrior.
"A lot of girls say they want to be a princess or want to be called princess, but I want to protect myself and be able to save others too."
- CHARMAINE SOH