SINGAPORE: A picture may be worth a thousand words but in the case of an unofficial photo of Miss Singapore Beauty Pageant finalists, it was worth a thousand comments - most of them hurtful.
Singaporean finalist Tricia Koh, a 24-year-old financial adviser, told The Sunday Times: "They say we learn from the pain, I say we gain from it."
Koh added that it is easy to make such comments under the cloak of anonymity that the Internet provides. "(But) it takes a lot of courage for a girl to go up on stage and let people judge her."
She was among 16 of the 19 finalists who came under scrutiny by netizens last Tuesday, when an unofficial photo of them at a Miss Singapore Beauty Pageant event was posted. The girls, selected from a total of 60 applicants, were dubbed "ugly" and "repulsive".
Koh said she expected people to criticise her physical aspects when she joined the pageant but, like the other finalists, did not expect such a backlash.
Another finalist, Lasalle College of the Arts student Christina Cai, 18, said: "You were not there and you did not see us in action and you want to say that we are not talented or smart? It's immature."
Cai joined the pageant, that has been running for 29 years, because she wanted a new experience and thought it would help her grow.
She credited her family and friends for being her pillars of support. "Honestly, I don't know what I would do without them."
ITE College East student and finalist Queenie Sia, 17, said beauty is skin deep. "It's about having a good heart and a good personality."
The unofficial photo was taken by a member of the public when the pageant was doing a talent and fashion showcase at One KM mall.