Taunted in primary school, she went on to be Miss Universe Singapore
Called 'fat' and 'ugly' in primary school, Ms Jessica Tan went on to win Miss Universe Singapore 2007 after friends encouraged her to join
Throughout primary school, she was overweight.
She went on to become Miss Universe Singapore (MUS) 2007, but back then, Ms Jessica Tan was constantly put down as "fat" and "ugly" by classmates and relatives, and her confidence was low.
As she started to believe the taunts, her self-esteem was completely destroyed.
But Ms Tan, who stood at 1.64m and weighed 64kg, had a dream.
"I watched (MUS) on TV and all those confident, glamorous girls on stage made me dream of doing it one day even though I felt that it was impossible. I wanted to be as confident as they were," Ms Tan, 30, told The New Paper.
When she was 13, she started to shed the baby fat.
WINNER: Ms Jessica Tan, then 25, beat 16 others to win the Miss Universe Singapore crown and the right to compete in the Miss Universe 2007 international pageant in Mexico City. TNP FILE PHOTO
Formerly a Singapore Airlines stewardess and now a model-actress based in Hong Kong, Ms Tan - who was also a The New Paper New Face finalist in 2002 - said: "That's when people started telling me that I was good-looking, which was something unheard of for me.
"When I was about to turn 21, my girlfriends told me that I should consider joining the competition. Never did I expect to win and represent Singapore (in Mexico)."
This year, Singapore's most prestigious pageant is back in a big way, with new presenter Singapore Turf Club and new imaging partner Canon Singapore on board.
And for the first time, The New Paper will be MUS 2016's official media partner and co-organiser alongside the Miss Universe Singapore Organisation.
The winner will receive a $10,000 cash prize and a Canon camera worth $1,000. Registration is now open to women aged 18 to 27. (See report above.)
Her fondest memory? Experiencing Miss Universe on the international level, which she described as "a whole different ball game".
"From the minute I landed in Mexico, I was picked up in a tinted-window limousine, driven to the hotel with at least five police escorts surrounding the car," said Ms Tan, who will wed a Hong Kong-based Singaporean lawyer at the end of the year.
She said: "Before joining MUS, I wasn't a very confident person nor was I comfortable in my own skin. It wasn't easy for me growing up as I had to deal with mean girls (in school) who shattered my confidence.
"After meeting so many different women (from around the world), I realised the most beautiful kind of woman is a confident one."
And what tips does she have for those thinking of joining MUS 2016?
GLAMOUR AND FAME
She said: "A lot of girls want to be Miss Universe Singapore only because of the glamour and fame that come with it. However, there's also a responsibility to present yourself well in public.
"It's not just about grooming confident and strong women, it is also a great platform for Singapore to exchange our country's pride and cultures with other delegates.
"Independent women who are beautiful both inside and out with the passion and commitment to be a good representative of Singapore are the best candidates."