MUS hopeful follows in beauty queen mum's footsteps
Miss Universe S'pore 2018 hopefuls include daughter of the first runner-up in 1994, a doctor and a financial consultant
In 1994, Ms Angela Lee, then 20, was crowned first runner-up of Miss Universe Singapore (MUS).
More than two decades later, her daughter, Miss Loo May Tia, 18, is following in her mother's footsteps.
The student, who is based in Brighton, England, said she joined the local pageant this year to fulfil a childhood dream.
She added that her 44-year-old mother, who also clinched the title of Miss Singapore World in the same year, "feels just as excited" for her.
Miss Loo told The New Paper: "She always tells me to be myself, stand up straight and smile. She was the one who encouraged me to participate."
The registration deadline for MUS 2018 has been extended to June 12, giving single women aged 18 to 28 who hold a Singapore passport a chance to represent Singapore on the world stage.
This year's winner stands to walk away with $10,000 cash, $15,000 worth of services from official beauty partner Beaute Hub, $5,000 worth of services from BeauteNails, a Smile makeover worth up to $15,000 from Orchard Scotts Dental and $2,000 worth of hair services from Apgujeong Hair Studio.
Miss Loo, a former national rhythmic gymnast, believes MUS will be a great way to raise awareness for her cause - children with learning difficulties.
She volunteered at Chailey Heritage School, a special school for physically and mentally disabled children in East Sussex, for nearly a year.
She said: "As someone who struggled with learning in my first few years of primary school due to mild dyslexia, I want these kids to believe in themselves and know that they can achieve their goals in life too."
At 1.73m tall and weighing 53kg, Miss Loo started representing Singapore in rhythmic gymnastics in 2012, competing both nationally and internationally.
But she had to stop a year later as her family relocated to various countries because of her father's job.
Over the past five years, she has lived in six countries, including Abu Dhabi. The family settled in Brighton in 2016.
Currently taking her A levels at Roedean School, she has been given a conditional offer to University College London but plans to take a gap year to pursue other interests.
She said: "I felt like I needed a break from academics to spend some time on my other passions, such as participating in MUS.
"I hope to continue (with ballet and contemporary dance) and learning more dance styles, and to find ways to help coach younger gymnasts."
Another big believer in helping others is Miss Jeslin Wong, a 27-year-old polyclinic doctor who volunteers at and helps run Tzu Chi Free Clinic, a two-doctor clinic that offers free medical services to the underprivileged.
She said: "It is a privilege to give, and I believe there is far greater joy in giving than receiving. It is a humbling experience when you hear about the struggles that our wider community is facing.
"It keeps you grounded and reminds you to be grateful for and appreciative of what you already have."
The avid yogi feels MUS is a great platform to show that beauty is more than skin deep.
"Being Miss Universe Singapore is about being a woman of substance, with a beautiful mind, heart and soul," she said.
The contest is "not about outdoing the rest", she added. "We should cultivate the spirit of bettering ourselves each day and learn to shine from within."
Miss Wong, who is 1.71m tall and weighs 54kg, thinks MUS is an chance for personal growth.
She said: "It is easy to stand in the crowd, but it takes courage to stand in front of them, to be in the spotlight and judged."
Being brave did not come easily for Miss Sushil Como, who is Punjabi.
Though her parents and grandparents were born and raised in Singapore like her, the 25-year-old financial consultant is irked that she has been asked far too many times about her race and ethnicity.
She said: "Some people go as far as to ask me what breed I am, so I tell them I am half dalmatian and half poodle.
"It is really rude."
Such remarks contributed to her growing up with insecurities and feeling like she stuck out "like a sore thumb", which she has slowly come to terms with.
Miss Como said: "I struggled with self-esteem issues (because of all that). When I was in my early teens, someone told me that because I have a distinctive look, people will either like it or hate it. There is no in-between. And that most people like familiarity, features that they are used to seeing.
"Unfortunately, that stayed with me all these years. I never forgot it, and I actually feel like that affected me in many ways subconsciously."
Miss Como, who stands at 1.65m and weighs 45kg, said her height was one of the reasons why she hesitated signing up.
However, she now embraces what makes her different.
"Like Manuela Bruntraeger, (who is 1.66m) and still won (the pageant) last year, we are more than our shape, colour and size.
"I am choosing to look past that," she said.