The New Paper
Published: Sep 23, 2014
FATTY. GIANT. THUNDER THIGHS.
These were the nicknames junior college bullies used to taunt Miss Luisa Gan with three years ago. They not only hurt the 1.74m-tall student, who weighed 68kg then, but ostracised her.
She remembered how she always sat and ate alone in school. And because she had been treated like an outcast, she vowed to help bullied children once she had the means to do so.
On Sunday night, Miss Gan, now 20, realised her dream when she was crowned Miss Singapore Tourism Queen International at the Miss Singapore Beauty Pageant.
As the contestants had to pick a charity of their choice, she used the pageant as a platform for her cause by opting for the Singapore Children’s Society. The Singapore Institute Of Management business and management undergraduate will be promoting the society’s Bully-Free Campaign.
She has committed at least 80 hours of her time to manning the helplines for victims of bullying, and giving talks on the subject in schools.
A spokesman for the pageant said: “The pre-judging segment is very important and it’s where we find out how committed these girls are to charity work.
“It’s a turn-off when we hear girls naming charities and then not being able to tell us how they want to help. For example, if a contestant says she wants to stop hunger, we ask her how she’s going to go about feeding people. If she says she doesn’t know, she loses a lot of points even before the finals.”
Miss Gan’s experience with bullying, and her passion for helping kids in similar situations, touched the judges.
She told The New Paper: “If I could turn back time and go back to JC, I would tell myself to stand up for myself. But since that’s not possible, I want to educate children and tell them that they should not only stand up to bullies, they should also stand up for others who are bullied.
“I read an article that said that Singapore ranks second in the world when it comes to cyber-bullying. That shows how prevalent the problem is here.”
CHOKED BACK TEARS
During the pre-judging segment of the pageant, which constituted 50 per cent of the points awarded, Miss Gan choked back tears as she explained her choice of charitable organisation.
“Being called fatty, giant and thunder thighs — all these names got to me. I didn’t want to go to school,” she said. "I don’t want anyone else to live through what I did.”
Miss Gan told TNP that her weight really hurt her when she tried to get part-time jobs to earn extra pocket money. After she was done with JC, she went for modelling and acting job interviews during the holidays. Time and again, she was turned away because she was told she was overweight.
“They would tell me ‘you’re flabby, come back when you’re skinnier’. That was hurtful,” Miss Gan said. “So I had to lose the weight because I wanted the extra income.”
At the pageant’s finals, watching Miss Gan work her hula hoop in her dazzling red bikini to Shakira’s La La La, one would have never guessed that she had weight issues.
After a year of exercising and dieting, she now weighs 51kg and sports a flat stomach. Her waist size, which used to be 76cm, is now 61cm.
But with her new figure comes a whole new lifestyle.
“I walk 5km three to four times a week, and run and cycle in the gym,” she said.
“Food-wise, I don’t eat much carbohydrates any more. I’ll have a heavy breakfast, a normal lunch but won’t eat anything after 5.30pm. If my weight starts to go up, I’ll go on a strict diet that includes mostly fruit and vegetables.”
Apart from her looks, the judges were impressed with how she handled the question-and-answer segment.
When asked about the one thing that she was not allowed to do but really wanted to and why, she said: “I want to confiscate everyone’s electronic gadgets for a day because everyone relies on the Internet too much. This is so that they can spend face-to-face quality time with their families and friends, just for a day.”
Miss Gan was the biggest winner of the night, also winning four subsidiary awards — Miss Charity Queen, Miss Hodaka Motorworld, Miss Fabulous Aesthetics and Miss Nongsa 2014. She will represent Singapore in the Miss Tourism Queen International 2014 pageant in China.