Wincci pole-dances to fitness
ADOLESCENCE often comes with sizeable doses of awkward moments and confusion.
For Malaysian beauty queen-turned-singer Soo Wincci, that uncertain period in her life saw a shy, insecure teenager often bullied over her weight.
"I was obese as a child. I weighed about 55kg at 10. The kids at school called me 'Godzilla' and 'Fatso'," the lanky 28-year-old from Selangor said.
"Then, I could eat up to five pieces of fried chicken at one go. Boys would do a crude imitation of a fat person walking whenever they saw me in the canteen."
She added: "My aunties and uncles would often tease me about my weight. I knew they were joking, but I would lock myself in my room afterwards and cry."
Soo was 14 when she decided she had had enough of being fat.
The teenager decided to do away with her usual diet, and survived on just watermelons and oranges.
"Whenever I ate anything else, I would immediately run off to the bathroom to purge," she said.
By the end of the first month into her "diet", Soo had lost over 15kg.
"I was reduced to just bones. My breasts were flat. Mum noticed something was wrong when she saw how often I was running to the bathroom after meals. That's when I had to stop."
She eventually gained back the weight that she lost.
But Soo was quick to get back in shape for the 2008 Miss World Malaysia pageant, which she won and went on to represent Malaysia at the global beauty pageant in Johannesburg, South Africa.
While she had been following a stringent diet, Soo, who has a law degree and a Master in Business Administration, said she never gave much thought to exercise until about two years ago, when she was attempting to break into the Taiwanese entertainment scene.
"After a while, just limiting my food intake didn't work for me any more and I had to exercise to lose weight."
Soo then decided to take up pole-dancing as a way to stay fit, as well as to rev up her performances onstage.
The multi-talented lass also went on to learn aerial dancing and, more recently, break-dancing. Aerial dancing involves exploring vertical and horizontal movements while dangling from the ceiling.
Soo recalled crying in her pole-dancing classes, because it was so painful. The pole left her with bruises across the length of her thighs and shins.
But she stuck to it, and her efforts paid off when she got to showcase her pole-dancing talents during a popular Taiwanese talkshow.
The performance garnered considerable attention from both the audience and the Taiwanese media, said Soo.
"They thought it was something special and they gave me the nickname 'steel woman'," she said with a laugh.
Despite her strenuous dance regime, Soo maintains a vegetarian diet to manage her weight and to avoid getting too bulky.
"I gained a lot of muscle from pole-dancing... I was starting to look like a bodybuilder," she said with a grimace.
"I had to stop taking meat to stop my body from getting too muscular. Most of the time, I eat only blended fruit with yogurt and honey. Sometimes, I eat eggs.
"I also take berries, pumpkin seeds and walnuts, as they help to boost brain power."
On top of that, Soo also runs on a treadmill for at least 40 minutes a day.
"All that cardio helps build up the stamina I need to sing and dance onstage," she said.
Today, the 1.7m beauty weighs only 55kg, but shares that it is a constant struggle to keep her weight down.
She said: "Stars in Taiwan are very thin, so I would look really fat standing next to them if I don't diet and exercise."
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK