Chirpy to be chubby, 11 plus-sized women put together nude calendar to teach obese women that it’s not the end of the world
By Kwok Kar Peng
November 15, 2010
PICTURES: BIG N BEAUTIFUL, SIT WENG SAN
THE Health Promotion Board (HPB) is worried about the growing rate of obesity among Singaporeans.
At the same time, a group of local women is celebrating – even promoting – their chubbiness with a nude calendar.
The B.A.B Calendar 2011 features 11 plus-sized women posing in the nude in classy black and white photos.
Cellulite, folds of flesh and thick arms and thighs are shown off proudly.
The calendar is the brainchild of Miss Erica Sim, 30, owner of the Big n Beautiful (B.A.B) online shop that sells accessories and clothes ranging from size XL to 6XL.
The women in the calendar are customers-turned-friends.
The female photographer is also a friend.
In an exclusive interview with The New Paper on Sunday, Miss Sim said the calendar is not trying to send the message that it’s all right to be obese.
‘It’s not a question of whether it’s okay or not to be plus-sized. We know that the obese are at risk for health problems,’ she said.
‘But if you are obese even after taking care of your diet, cutting down on junk food and sweet drinks, and also exercise, we want to show that it’s not the end of the world.’
CALENDAR MODELS: Clara Su, Regine Guo, Lisa Teoh and Erica Sim.
TNP PICTURE: CHOO CHWEE HUA
Last week, the HPB revealed the findings of the latest National Health Survey, showing that 10.8 per cent of Singaporeans are obese.
This is up from 6.9 per cent in 2004.
A person is obese when he or she has a body mass index of 30 or more.
Miss Sim claims she has been big all her life and it isn’t by choice.
When she was 10, a doctor put her on a diet of only one apple a day for a week. She ended up putting on weight instead.
She stands at 1.68m and weighs 114kg.
She and three of the calendar models we spoke to said they have no health problems.
Miss Sim, who says her boyfriend loves her curves, told us the calendar is part of a campaign to celebrate curves.
As she and her friends had been photographed in bikinis for the online shop before, the natural step forward for her would be to appear in nude shots.
She added: ‘I was inspired by a line from a romantic movie, the title of which I cannot remember, that the only time you are truly in love is when you can stand naked in front of your partner and not feel ashamed.
‘You love yourself only if you accept who you are and love yourself naked.’
Also in the pipeline is a fashion show with plus-sized models called The Military Mardi Gras Ball scheduled for Nov 27.
The calendar is now available for pre-order from the online shop and will be ready for collection on the day of the fashion show.
All profits from its sale will go to a Vietnamese teen, who is hospitalised here for leukaemia. His family isn’t well-off and sold their property back home to pay for the deposit for the bone marrow transplant.
However, he suffers from the after-effects of the transplant and has been warded in the intensive care unit several times.
The boy’s family is saddled with a hospital bill believed to be around $400,000.
Through the calendar, Miss Sim hopes more plus-sized women will step out of the shadows, embrace their size and enjoy life.
It wasn’t easy to find plus-sized women game enough to strip though.
Many turned down the invitation because they were shy.
We spoke to three women who took the plunge, and they told us posing nude was a personal milestone.
Added Miss Regine Guo, 30, a marketing executive: ‘I want to do something great in life so I won’t have any regrets. It’s something I can show my grandchildren in the future.
‘We are curvy too, but just bigger.’
She stands at 1.65m and weighs 98kg.
Another model, Ms Lisa Teoh, 36, an administrative assistant who’s also a partner in the online shop, admitted with a laugh that there’s a porn star in her.
She’s 1.65m tall and weighs 90kg.
‘I’ve wanted to pose for nude photos all my life but never had the chance to. I look into the mirror and often wondered what it would be like if I showed my body to other people,’ she said candidly.
‘I have a big stomach but I’m happy with it, although people sometimes think I’m pregnant. I like my buttocks too.
‘I was really happy when I took off all my clothes in the photoshoot. It felt very comfortable…the feeling is indescribable.’
Her husband agreed to her posing nude only if her face does not appear in the photo.
While their families have been supportive of their endeavour, some of their friends have called them crazy.
One of the models, Miss Clara Su, 24, a nurse, hasn’t told her mother what she’s done and will do so only when the calendar is out.
Miss Su, who is 1.63m tall and weighs 86kg, added that some of her friends didn’t understand why she did it, and chastised her.
Ready for criticism
All the women admitted that they have not received any harsh words yet, but said they are ready to face them head on.
‘At the end of the day, we did it for plus-sized women,’ said Miss Sim.
She added: ‘I can’t satisfy everyone. Even if someone from the plus-size community criticises us, it’s okay… As long as I can help one plus-sized girl, I’m happy.’
One plus-sized undergraduate who wanted to be known only as Miss Ho, 21, said: ‘I think they are brave because not many people dare to do this in a conservative society.
‘But there should be some censorship on the photos. Just because they are comfortable with their own body does not mean that people are comfortable looking at them.’
A polytechnic student who only wanted to be known as Intan, 19, added: ‘I’m quite disturbed by it.’
However, polytechnic lecturer Miss Jacqueline Woon, 24, feels the calendar is an accurate reflection of women on the street.
She told us she bought the calendar to support her friend Miss Su, and also in support of what women really look like.
Leena Salim from Beam Artistes, who’s also a plus-sized girl, applauded the women for coming out with the calendar.
Said the local singer-actress who’s in her 30s: ‘I’m very excited and happy for them… and hope it’s a stepping stone to something bigger. Big women are misunderstood, misrepresented and under-represented.
‘It’s much harder for them to fit in and they have to put in three times the effort compared to a slim person… It’s about time (plus-sized women) have a voice.’
The men whom we spoke to were also encouraging.
Mr Darren Lee, 33, self-employed, said: ‘There’s nothing to be ashamed about just because they are big. These women have a lot of guts.
‘They take the nude photos not for money but to show that plus-sized women don’t necessarily lose to others, and that they have a good side too.’
Student Wilson Chua, 23, added: ‘Singapore is a very conservative society. There will be a hoo-ha even if it was a slim model who took the nude photos.
‘If these plus-sized women are confident about how they look, why not? Beauty doesn’t mean beingslender, and big-sized doesn’t mean ugly.’
Additional reporting by Amanda Phua