Men who love My Little Pony
Men who are fans of My Little Pony say the animated series is more than just bright colours and happy songs
Mr Adwin Peh is a dropout who suffers from depression.
The former Institute of Technical Education (ITE) student was lonely in school, struggling to make friends, but today, the 18-year-old has a small group of about 30 - mostly in their teens to 30s - whom he feels comfortable enough with to share his anxieties.
The bond that keeps them together?
They are all bronies.
Bronies are men who like the animated television series, My Little Pony (MLP): Friendship Is Magic.
The current incarnation of the franchise, released in 2010, is the third time the show has been revamped since it first started out as a toy line in 1983.
For many children and a group of adults - men and women alike - the cartoon has grown to embody more than just bright colours and happy songs.
The ponies accept others for who they are and don’t judge them.Mr Yong Hao Ming
Mr Peh told The New Paper: "MLP helps you understand more about life - it puts social situations into context."
There are more than one million bronies, including lawyers and war veterans, in the US alone.
In Singapore, there is the official Facebook group called Singapore Bronies Society with 1,170 members.
MLP centres on the lives of six talking ponies who go on adventures to learn about friendship. Each pony represents a different element of friendship such as honesty and generosity.
The ponies also have powers including flight and telekinesis.
Mr Peh, who discovered MLP in 2015, aspires to be like Rainbow Dash, an athletic Pegasus who embodies loyalty.
He said: "I really admire her self-confidence and how she is so daring. I want to be as unafraid of speaking out as she is."
He said it has not been easy revealing a passion for something that was originally meant as a cartoon for young girls.
His sexuality was questioned, and he was teased by his ITE classmates, who even stole his MLP keychain and pencil case.
But he continues to profess his love for the show.
"People see the show only on the surface. They don't bother to understand the underlying messages beneath the pastel colours and magical talking ponies," he said.
Mr Yong Hao Ming, 23, is another brony.
He graduated from Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) last year with a diploma in digital game art and design.
He told TNP: "People were nice to me, but I didn't trust any of them enough to open up about being stressed. So I kept it to myself."
Mr Yong has been diagnosed with social anxiety and depression, and also has severe eczema, a skin condition that made him self-conscious.
He said his condition stemmed from failing a subject at his O-level examinations in 2012, and it worsened when he entered NYP in 2014.
He did not have any background in art and was shocked to realise that everyone in his course had experience with drawing.
He said: "It was quite discouraging because of the gulf in standards. I kept comparing my work to theirs and mine seemed so underwhelming."
Added Mr Yong: "Every time my classmates found out I was assigned to their group for a project, you could see the disappointment on their faces."
This further wrecked his self-esteem.
Then, in 2014, he came across MLP. His favourite character is Fluttershy, an introverted pony who represents kindness.
Mr Yong said: "I try to be like her as she tries to be more assertive and prevent others from walking all over her."
The show's themes of friendship and acceptance also appeal to Mr Yong.
He said: "The ponies accept others for who they are and don't judge them. Instead, they try to understand what they are going through."
When asked about the trend, clinical psychologist Carol Balhetchet sought to dispel the stigma attached to bronies.
She said: "It is perfectly fine, especially since it has a happy ending of good triumphing over evil.
"It shows that boys have a core, natural ingredient to be emotionally hurt as well, not just girls. So, having this interest shows they are human."
Bronies around the world
What do a mortgage conveyancer and an Iraq war veteran have in common?
They are both male fans of the animated television series, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, or as they are more commonly known, Bronies.
The duo are a testament to how far the cartoon has come since the first episode was aired in 1986, and how it has evolved into a global phenomenon.
Mr Sam Harris, 30, is a member of the Severn Bronies, a 200-strong interest group that meets regularly in Bristol to organise activities based on the My Little Pony franchise.
In a BBC interview, Mr Harris, a mortgage conveyancer in Cardiff, said the claim that Bronies collect the toys to "do lewd things to them... (are) sensationalist hype and completely untrue".
Mr Harris' friend Marcus believes the series helps ease his depression.
"Putting on something like My Little Pony, with its colours and its uplifting nature, I feel like that really helps in dealing with it," Marcus told BBC.
Texan war veteran Jake Hughes, 32, was more blunt in his assessment of critics of Bronies.
Mr Hughes told US media outlet ABC News: "They try to paint us as pathetic basement dwellers... (but) I am not some out-of-shape, lazy man-child.
"I have served my country dutifully for 11 years. I also like pastel-painted talking ponies. Got a problem with that?"
- LUCAS WONG