BEAUTY or model search pageants come and go but the experience stays for a lifetime.
This is the view of winners and non-winners after the D’Beaute Expo Phy Model Search finale on Sunday.
While first-place winner Stefanie Wong, 18, said she was overjoyed with her title and would continue pursuing a career in modelling, it was Kelly Chia, 24, a mother of two, who really stole the show.
Chia did not finish in the top three and did not walk away with any subsidiary title but she said she was the happiest of them all.
“This is my first time joining a pageant. I did not anticipate winning anything ... all I wanted was to learn a thing or two. It took a lot of courage, confidence and family support for me to do this,” Chia told StarMetro.
“I am indeed thankful to my mother and my husband. While I was preparing for this event, they took care of my little girls. My hubby Choo Bui Chin, who is an interior designer, has always been there for me.”
Asked about future pageants, Chia said she would like to enter more but added that her children were her priority.
Meanwhile, newly-crowned Wong said the win was a boost for her career. She has been modelling since the age of 15 years but this was the first time she had entered a pageant.
“I’m surprised. Even though I’m a bit familiar with the modelling industry, I’m not one of those girls with a lot of clothes. Everything I’ve worn in this competition were newly-bought plus most of my cat-walking experience was learnt off YouTube videos.”
Asked about her ambition, Wong said she would like to open a boutique after finishing university. “Right now, I’m learning about make-up while studying business management at the Open University.”
If there was one thing that stood out among the winners, it was their ambitions. Second-placed Kueh Mei Fung, 18, is hoping to be a Bahasa Melayu teacher.
“Bahasa Melayu is my best subject and I want to teach it,” Kueh said, adding that she had no qualms about being sent to schools in rural areas.
“I don’t worry about that. It’s a challenge to teach anyone, whether in urban or rural areas. The most important thing about teaching is to do it with passion and care.”
Kueh, who cried on stage when the results were announced, said there were similarities between teaching and beauty or model pageants. “For one, both are mentally challenging. You need to be brave to do both well, don’t you think?”
Make-up artist Ling Wong Lee, 23, who is also a part-time model, finished third. Modestly, she attributed her win to her height.
“In Sarawak and Sabah, there aren’t that many tall girls. In fact, I’m not that tall myself. I’m only about 165cm but that has given me an advantage, which then led to experience.”