Singaporean wins international pageant for plus-size beauties
S'porean make-up artist wins Ms Top of the World Plus Size 2016. Her message? Embrace your curves
It was her first beauty pageant and Singapore's Fiona Tan Si Min was crowned Ms Top of the World Plus Size 2016 in Latvia, beating nine other contestants from around the world.
She was also the only Asian contestant in the competition, and emerged victorious over second-placed Ms Lulia Morgunova from Georgia, and third-placed Ms Tatjana Mackevica from Latvia.
Miss Tan, a 29-year-old make-up artist, told The New Paper she was proud to be able to represent Singapore on an international platform.
She said: "In Asia, you get more comments directed at your size.
"It was not easy to come all the way to here to take part in this competition, so I took this very seriously and tried my best in every criteria."
The plus-sized beauty pageant was held over four days earlier this month in Latvia. Contestants were judged based on different segments each day. (See report above.)
Miss Tan had been approached by a friend who knew the national director of event management company Eplanet Singapore, which was in charge of picking Singapore's representative. The friend asked her to audition for the pageant.
She said: "I was shocked when I heard I was chosen. I love fashion and there was a chance to influence people."
She shared that has been overweight since she was eight, but she was always confident about herself.
BEAUTY QUEEN: Miss Fiona Tan emerged victorious in the Miss Top of the World Plus Size pageant this month. She said she used to be ashamed of her weight but learned to love her body and be comfortable in her own skin. PHOTOS: PHOTOIF
She said: "I'm comfortable the way I am, why should I listen to what people say about me?"
Miss Tan recalls her father giving her a hard time about being overweight as well as making her exercise. She also grew up with her relatives and friends constantly commenting on her size.
Said Miss Tan: "It was out of concern and care, but it's hard to swallow because people kept saying that to my face."
When Miss Tan was 21, she made the drastic decision to go through with liposuction in Thailand.
She said: "I got super conscious of my own body, so I decided to do something that will make me lose weight."
Over three months, Miss Tan went from 94kg to 72kg. But instead of feeling satisfied, she felt as though she had "lost her personality".
She said: "I was unhappy, it all happened so fast... I felt like I lost myself. I didn't know how to dress well, or stand out. It felt so silly, because there are people who want to lose this much weight."
Looking back, Miss Tan felt she could have chosen healthier methods. Now, she weighs 102kg and fully embraces her body.
She said: "Don't let anyone dictate your life, you should be able to feel comfortable in your skin, embrace your curves.
"Don't try to force yourself to look a certain way."
Miss Tan is on holiday in Europe and has plans to write a book.
She said: "I want to help empower plus-sized women in the world and to share my experiences as well.
"It doesn't matter where you're from, it's good to be groomed, but you don't have to be constantly pressured to change yourselves for society's expectations."
FASHIONISTA: Miss Fiona Tan, who loves fashion, also designed the gowns she wore in the competition, including this green number with purple blooms.
Mr Tan Hock Seng, 58, Miss Tan's businessman father, said: "I'm very proud of her, she tried and she succeeded. As a father, I'm very impressed.
"And I knew she put in a lot of effort into this pageant, so I must take my hat off to her."
Mr Tan acknowledged that he had been very strict with her and would force her to go jogging with him at MacRitchie Reservoir.
He said: "But at the end of the day, there's no point in forcing her to slim down if she's not happy. As long as she's happy, I'm happy too."
About the pageant
The Ms Top of the World Plus Size was held in Latvia from June 6 to June 9.
Ten contestants from 10 different countries participated in the competition, where they had to take part in a swimsuit show, a talent showcase and a personal profile interview session before the finale on June 9.
Besides being crowned Ms Top of the World Plus Size, Miss Tan also won Ms TV Star for the personal interview segment.
Contestants had to make a two to three-minute video interview, where they had to introduce themselves and the country they come from.
In her video, Miss Tan recommended Singaporean food and places of interest, even touching on the issue of plus size girls.
The judges' decisions made up 40 per cent of the final vote, with online voting making up the other 60 per cent.
Ms Susan Koh, director of Eplanet Singapore which held auditions in Singapore for the pageant and which sponsored Miss Tan's trip, said Miss Tan was an obvious choice as the Republic's representative.
Ms Koh said: "We were invited to participate in this pageant and we found this title was different and unique from the usual pageants we had. After weeks of searching, we found Fiona, and what attracted us was her confidence and ability to stand out."
Miss Tan also did not make this trip to Latvia alone: her best friend of 12 years, 29-year-old boutique and cafe owner Denise Chai, was with her throughout the entire trip.
Miss Chai said: "I decided to accompany her to the pageant in Latvia, because she's so far away from home, so I wanted to be there for her, not just physically but emotionally too."