Curvy Girls In Singapore

Here’s the harsh reality of society: everyone is judgemental AF. We grew up being exposed to media and having expectations of how others should or should not look like. Especially when it comes to appearances, body image issues have become a huge topic for the current generation, despite more efforts to encourage body positivity.

While it’s common to see small and petite Asian women, the curvier ladies on the other hand, suffer from the criticism of being “too big.” We spoke to six self-professed curvy girls in Singapore to find out the worst things they’ve been told and common misconceptions they face because of their body type. 

Some names have been altered to protect the identities of our interviewees.

1. “Curvy people in the media are always the ones being bullied, giving off the message that it’s normal”

Image courtesy of Cheryl

“Growing up, I was never a small-sized person, and according to my health checks, I was classified as severely overweight. There is a body size expectation for Singaporean girls, usually one that is petite, skinny and can fit into “free size” clothing, which is something I was never able to do.

In school, I was sent to the “fat” club during recess or before assembly. So when everyone else was having fun, I was one of the few that were singled out. 

“Why are you so lazy?”, “You have grown fatter”, and “Why are you so fat?”. These are things that close family members and classmates have said right to my face, and it was never easy to stomach it every time.

There isn’t a lot of representation of curvy people in the media either. And even when there is, they are the ones being bullied or made fun of. It gave off the message that it was okay for us to be ridiculed.

This has led to consequences on my mental health as I also self harmed when I was younger. In recent years, this has changed a lot for me. I am no longer affected because I have grown to be more confident in myself. There are still days where I feel ugly about my tummy and thighs. But the good outweighs the bad, and I am working towards a more active lifestyle, learning how to take care of myself better.” 

Advice to curvy girls in Singapore who are struggling with negative comments: “It is not easy, but most of the time, we are our worst enemy.” 

— Cheryl, 29

2. “I wore a denim jacket just to cover up my arms despite it being 35 degrees outside”

Curvy GirlsYan Ling before and after losing weight
Image courtesy of Yan Ling

“The sizes I usually go for while shopping range from L to XL. Singaporean girls tend to be more petite and it is common to see these girls wearing crop tops or mini skirts. 

Before I lost weight, I was 86kg at my heaviest and could not even fit into any XL sizes. I compared myself to influencers, models and even my own friends a lot, and felt sad because I could never fit into what they’re wearing. Even if I did, it would not look as nice on me because of my body type. 

Once, I wore a denim jacket just to cover up my arms despite it being 35 degrees outside — I almost passed out from the heat. Hearing that I should eat less, start exercising, avoid fast food and that I won’t be able to get married became a norm from the people around me. But why did they think this of me just based on my body type? 

I tried to lose weight for a period of time because of these comments. However, it was tormenting because I had an unhealthy mindset of counting calories. I avoided hanging out with my friends because the places that they were going did not have anything healthy for me to eat, which was a diet based on chicken breast and broccoli. 

This year, I am happier. I started following more plus-sized influencers and finding out what types of clothing would fit my body type better. I also bought clothes from brands that are size inclusive and became motivated to workout to be healthy, rather than the sole purpose of losing weight.”

Advice to curvy girls in Singapore who are struggling with negative comments: “Pick out clothes that you know will look good on you, instead of trying to fit into clothes that are in trend or meant for petite girls.”

— Yan Ling, 25

3. “I’ve been referred to as “the pui pui one” by an acquaintance”

I’ve always been plus-sized, and people have always pointed out, whether jokingly or otherwise, that I’m better-endowed than the average. I’m definitely not one of the waif-like girls who most fashion is designed for.

Most of the pressure, I’d say, is internal, depending on how much you let pop culture, peers, and the things family members say affect you. Personally, always being the bigger one in photos, and not being able to fit in a size S or M, makes me feel intensely ashamed of myself and my size. 

I was also in dance when I was younger, and I’d be constantly embarrassed because I looked less graceful or wouldn’t be able to fit in dance costumes. I’ve been told by my own mother to stop slinging my bag across my body because it makes my breasts stick out, and have also been referred to as “the pui pui one” by an acquaintance. 

I didn’t really manage to overcome these comments. They still weigh heavily on my mind, except that most times I try not to think about them. There’s only so much that education can do. There has to be a fundamental change in people’s mindsets, and sadly there will always be conservative people who think less of the voluptuous.”

Advice to curvy girls in Singapore who are struggling with negative comments: “Find yourself people who embrace you as you are. If they are concerned for your health, then they should be constructive, honest, and encouraging without being mean.”

— Sophie, 30s

Also read:

Overcoming An Eating Disorder ‒ The Pressure To Be “Skinny” As Shared By A Singaporean Foodie

4. “I get told that certain outfits don’t suit me because it makes me look like a mum of 10 kids”

Image courtesy of Isabel

“I always knew that I was on the chubbier end growing up. While more than half of my weight is contributed to muscle mass and bone density, I guess my weight and size overall defines me as curvy and plus-sized. 

Even when you are curvy, there is only a “right” way to be curvy: your chest and hips have to be the same size, or your waist has to be small like an hourglass figure. 

My fiancé and I are both plus-sized, yet I received more feedback on how I need to “be thinner” while it’s perfectly acceptable for him to maintain how he is. He gets to dress however he pleases, and I get told that certain colours, patterns or outfit combinations don’t suit me because it makes me look like “a mum of 10 kids.”

I used to let it bother me, but then I remember that I am still relatively healthy and I am on my own journey to be comfortable in my own skin.”

Advice to curvy girls in Singapore who are struggling with negative comments: “You are beautiful just the way you are. Know that you are not alone and you will always have a community of women behind you.”

— Isabel, 24

5. “A relative told me that being fat is ugly in front of everyone”

Curvy GirlsImage courtesy of Bernice

“Anybody can physically see that I’m more busty and have more weight on my body. A lot of the time, clothes are always too small to fit me. 

A relative of mine used to compare me to their children, in hopes that I would be encouraged to lose weight. They went to the extent of getting all my other relatives a T-shirt and purposefully buying mine one size smaller. They then made us stand in a line and told me specifically that being fat was ugly, and that I had to lose weight to get into the T-shirt. I was only 13 then, and it shattered me. 

Plus-sized girls are not all unhealthy. And gyms aren’t made for us, or at least based on my experience, it feels like it’s made for people who are already fit. 

Society should understand the struggles of a plus-sized female before giving her advice. If she didn’t ask you, don’t say anything. Unsolicited advice is just as annoying as an unsolicited dick pic.” 

Advice to curvy girls in Singapore who are struggling with negative comments: “If you want to make changes to your body, make sure you do it for yourself and not because someone else asked you to.”

— Bernice, 27

6. “I feel like I can’t eat what I want without being judged”

Image courtesy of Shan

“I am at least an M in most brands. Certain cuttings make me look pregnant. More often than not, I can’t fit cuttings in specific areas, mainly the bust. 

My family members are always saying I’m fat, ugly and no one will want me. My mother and aunts have also called me names such as “huge” and “pig”. It made me feel horrible and hurt. 

Every time I see nice clothes, I’m unable to fit in them. I also feel like I can’t eat what I want without being judged. I have low self-esteem and confidence, and it took a long time and hard work to slowly love and accept myself.

To some extent, I’ve overcome the majority of it, but it still hurts now and then when the comments are made. I do believe that God is fair and I count my blessings in other ways, such as the fact that I’m very confident about my teeth and smile.

A brand may show that it has XXL sizes when you click on the item, but the model is never a curvy girl. It doesn’t even have to be a curvy girl brand to show curvy models. Mannequins should be curvy too.” 

Advice to curvy girls in Singapore who are struggling with negative comments: “Our bodies cater to specific audiences who love it.”

— Shan, 29

These Struggles That Curvy Girls In Singapore Face Remind Us To Be Kind To One Another

These curvy girls in Singapore share common experiences of being called names and facing harsh misconceptions based on their body types alone. Through understanding their stories better, hopefully, we as a society can learn to be kinder to one another and not judge others’ appearances. 

Responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.
All images courtesy of the interviewees.

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