From her love life to her tattoos, Carrie Tan is breaking the mould
The MP-elect for Nee Soon GRC talks about women in politics and how her uniqueness is also her asset
Newly elected Member of Parliament Carrie Tan is not your regular politician.
Sporting her signature salt and pepper hair at the age of 38, she stood out among the 27 fresh faces the People's Action Party unveiled for the recent general election.
Ms Tan was an MP-elect for Nee Soon group representation constituency, replacing Dr Lee Bee Wah, and she was also one of the record number of 10 new female candidates the PAP fielded this year.
This year will see 27 elected female MPs entering Parliament - the highest ever.
Ms Tan told The New Paper: "I think it is encouraging and (having more female voices) in Parliament will hopefully help us push forward more policies that can be considered holistically from the female's perspective."
She joined politics to champion causes not just for women, but also to speak up on issues such as caregiving support and support for the sandwich generation.
Ms Tan is the founder of charity group Daughters Of Tomorrow, which she started in 2013 after ending an abusive relationship. She is now dating a divorcee and enjoys spending time with his two young children.
"I am really not very conventional, you know, (such as with my) relationship situation. I wasn't sure whether the party or the people would take to someone like this."
Some seniors in her GRC are also grappling with the idea that their new MP has tattoos - one behind her ear and another on her wrist.
"It is a bit confusing for them," she said with a laugh.
"But this is who I am and it doesn't detract from what I wish to do and can do for the community. I guess it is just another way of breaking the mould and helping people be more open to diverse people coming in to serve."
In fact, Ms Tan sees this uniqueness as one of her strengths.
"You will be able to relate to those who also may not be so conventional... and you can understand their challenges. I think this is the part I can bring into politics (to help people)."
Ms Tan said she gets comments all the time about her natural grey hair, which first appeared as a streak when she was 31.
Initially, she admitted feeling self-conscious, but she soon accepted it as the grey became more prominent.
Within the party, she said the female MPs have an informal peer support group where they talk about a range of things, from how to prevent wardrobe malfunctions in their all-white ensembles to the impact of politics on family.
Speaking out on the struggles female MPs face can encourage more women to join politics, she said.
"If there is a better acceptance of (leaders) to be more human (and vulnerable), it might ease the pressure on all politicians and leaders, and not just women."
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