Miss Universe Singapore 1987: 'I took part on a dare'
Miss Singapore Universe 1987 Marion Nicole Teo was a tomboy
The year 1987 was one for the books.
It was the first time Singapore made it into the top 10 of the Miss Universe pageant. It was also the first and only time Singapore hosted the international beauty contest.
Miss Universe Singapore 1987 winner Marion Nicole Teo, 48, told The New Paper: "I was shocked as it is not always the case that the host country girl makes it to the Top 10...
"I do feel that Singapore does stand a chance as many of the (pageant winners) are confident, articulate, well-groomed and poised.
"We just need to keep a positive attitude and show our support for our girls."
TUTOR: Ms Marion Nicole Teo now trains others in skills such as etiquette and customer service. ST FILE PHOTO
Ms Teo, who joined the pageant at 19, said: "I took part on a dare from my junior college mates. I was a tomboy then, they thought it would be funny for me to join a beauty pageant."
She admitted she felt more pressure because Singapore was the host country.
She said: "I had to be prepped by the Singapore Tourism Board to know as much about Singapore as possible.
"My dressing then was very simple and I barely knew how to wear make-up or style my hair. I had to get a lot of help... and the modelling agency (I was with part-time) did a great job.
"I would say my saving grace was that I was confident in public speaking."
Her favourite memory of the contest was bonding with contestants from all over the world.
She said: "Although I didn't get to go overseas, it was nice meeting people from all walks of life who gave me lots of encouragement and support."
After her reign, Ms Teo, who is Chinese-Eurasian, attended the National University of Singapore and graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in biochemistry.
But she ended up pursuing a different career - grooming and training others "to be confident in themselves" - when she started her image consultancy business in 1998.
She is now a director at Peak Performers Training and Consultancy, where she trains and coaches people in areas such as professional image, etiquette, communication, customer service and interpersonal relations.
Ms Teo revealed that there was a point in her life when her own confidence was low.
In 2003, the mother of two sons now aged 21 and 19, went through a divorce. She lost her passion for work and became tired and sick easily.
In 2008, she started to lose a lot of weight - 15kg within two months - and even her hair.
"I went into depression and barely left the house or kept in touch with anyone for some months," she said.
She was eventually diagnosed with alopecia universalis, a medical condition related to a dysfunction of the immune system.
Her wake-up call came from her sons, who reminded her of their Catholic faith.
In 2011, Ms Teo shut down her company and rebranded her business. The following year, she met her current business partner, an EQ trainer and coach.
"He helped me work through my emotional issues and (writing a journal) was one method I used as it helped me see my state of mind," said Ms Teo.
This led to her writing a self-help book, Happy Once Again, which was published in 2014.
Joining Miss Universe Singapore is definitely one way to boost confidence, said Ms Teo.
Her advice for this year's hopefuls?
"Stay positive in the face of criticism and know that the journey is more important than the end result."