By NOORSILA ABD MAJID
Nadine Ann Thomas, Miss Universe Malaysia 2010, hopes to be a role model for young girls.
THERE was a time in her life when Nadine Ann Thomas felt she was ugly. Growing up as a chubby girl in Subang Jaya, Selangor, the Miss Universe Malaysia 2010 knows how it feels like to suffer from an inferiority complex.
“I have big bones,” says Nadine of her physique, especially in reference to her broad shoulders. “I’ve always felt awkward. I was a lot taller than most of the boys in school and I was gawky. So, the boys didn’t really look at me.”
It certainly didn’t help that she had “jewellery in her mouth” (teeth braces) and a major acne outbreak then.
“I had really bad skin, especially when I was in Form Two. I even went to see a doctor but he didn’t help much.”
Nadine comes from a gene pool of good-looking family members – a gorgeous mix of Indian, Chinese and Caucasian parentage.
“My dad is Indian whereas my mum is half Chinese and half English,” explains Nadine, whose father is a senior civil servant and mother, a chartered secretary.
“But, I don’t look anything like my good-looking older brother or younger sister!” Many of her cousins come from mixed marriages too, so you can imagine how exotic-looking the extended family must be.
But, the trooper in Nadine refused to allow herself to indulge in self-pity.
“My self-confidence was given a boost when my parents sent me to piano and taekwando classes,” recalls the 23-year-old. “I became a happier person. My mother also taught me how to take better care of my skin.”
The teenage Nadine soon went from frump to femme.
“I lost my baby fat naturally thanks to my taekwando classes,” she laughs. “But, the pimples didn’t go away overnight. So, I learnt to cover them up with make-up.”
Nadine’s “awkward” past helped to shape her into the lovely person that she is today, not to mention the intelligence, grace and beauty that comes with the package.
Unruffled by her “ugly duckling” past, the slender Nadine today is a bona fide beauty queen who’s still holding on to her day job as an events and talent co-ordinator, despite clinching the title and taking home the RM50,000 cash prize.
By the way guys, this is one Miss Universe Malaysia you don’t want to mess around with as she holds a taekwando black belt and was an instructor before.
Armed with her inner strength and a degree in advertising, the Limkokwing London alumni responded to the newly revamped Miss Universe Malaysia’s call for a beauty queen that was “hip, urban, relevant and real”.
“I was attracted to a poster that featured Andrea Fonseka (a former Miss Universe Malaysia and the pageant’s national director) eating durian,” Nadine chuckles. “I thought the pageant was finally out to make a difference. So, I decided to give it a shot.”
And contrary to popular belief, not every beauty pageant is full of fluff.
“If you make it silly, it will be silly,” Nadine opines. “It’s a common perception that pageants are frivolous. But I’m in the Miss Universe Malaysia with a strong sense of purpose. I want to fight for women’s rights.”
A self-proclaimed feminist, the brainy beauty hopes to reach out to more young girls and be their role model. “I don’t have a big sister to turn to. So, I know how ‘lost’ a girl can be. But, I do have a younger sister, and I’m hoping that I can help her and other girls of her age to grow up healthily.”
Nadine feels a lot more can be done to promote gender equality in Malaysia.
“People often get the word ‘feminist’ wrong. They tend to associate it with ‘butch’ and ‘hairy armpits’! I love make-up and doing my hair, but I’m not about to let someone else tell me what I’m worth. Being a feminist simply means standing up for my rights as a woman and fighting for equality in all aspects of life.”
She has a strong message to send out to the sexist among the alpha males out there: “It is an Asian thing to look down on women, and think that they can’t handle stress or high pressure. Men and women are equal, but we are built differently. Men may be stronger physically but women have greater emotional strength.”
Well, watch out world, this is one beautiful girl that’s set to be an agent of change!