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Thu, Dec 10, 2009
The New Paper
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Rachel comes clean
by Gan Ling Kai

YES, her breasts did get a boost. Reigning Miss Singapore Universe Rachel Kum– perhaps the most scandal- ridden winner in the pageant’s history – has finally come clean.

In an exclusive interview with The New Paper, the beauty queen admitted that she had her bosom augmented.

Previously, when responding to widespread allegations of plastic surgery, the 24-year-old would admit only that she had gone for “aesthetic enhancements” – without saying which part of her 34B-24-33 figure had been enhanced.

But last Wednesday when The New Paper asked her, the 1.7m-tall beauty, who weighs 50kg, admitted: “I went for bust enhancement.”

Surprised by her candour, we asked: Silicone implants, injections or just firming gel? Her response: “Can I not say which type?”

Rachel, a brand manager at an aesthetic clinic, is single and lives with her family in a five-room HDB flat in Bishan. She was chatty and relaxed during the interview.

She also revealed that she had botox treatment to make her face look slimmer. “I had only these two procedures,” said Rachel.

The New Paper New Face 2007 finalist declined to reveal where her aesthetic procedures were done or when – whether it was before or after she won the Miss Singapore contest in May or when she represent-ed Singapore at the Miss Universe finals in the Bahamasin August.

But she admitted she was once intimidated by public criticism. “In the past, I didn’t want to reveal too much about myself because I knew some people were out to slam me,” she said.

Well, it seems she doesn't feel that way anymore.“There’s nothing wrong with aesthetic treatment or even plastic surgery,” she said.

“Many beauty contestants around the world have also gone for such procedures.” She added: “If you want to slam people for plastic surgery, then you shouldn’t read fashion magazines. Everything in them is unnatural. The make-up, the photo shop...”

She feels that everyone has a right to decide how he or she looks. “Since people, in general, want to make themselves feel better, why care about what others think of you? It’s your own happiness after all.”

Rachel admitted her aesthetic procedures increased her self-confidence. “I used to have a face looking like a ‘bao’ (bun in Mandarin). When I was 13 years old, I weighed 63kg.”

This ugly duckling did morph into a head-turning swan – with some ripples along the way.

In July, somewhat tasteless pictures of Rachel surfaced on the Internet, sparking calls for her to be stripped of her title.

The photos posted on The Straits Times interactive website Stomp showed her posing with a blown-up sex doll, a birthday cake with a phallic symbol and a friend dressed in a phallic-looking costume.

But Mr Daryl Pang, one of the directors of Miss Singapore Universe organiser Derrol Stepenny, shrugged it off, telling The New Paper: “It’s no big deal.”

Rachel explained that the cake had been bought by her friends as a surprise for her 21st birthday, celebrated three years ago in Seattle in the US.

And the blown-up doll was attached to a costume she wore at her friend’s Halloween party held here last year. “My friend had provided the costumes for all his guests,” said Rachel.

The picture of another friend in a phallic- looking costume was also taken there. She posted these photos on social networking portal Facebook and her blog, but removed them before the finals of the contest.

Despite the controversy the photos caused, Rachel said: “I’m not going to lie. I still find those costumes funny.

“I know that many people may see beauty queens as role models for young children, so I can understand why they were upset.

“But I don’t regret taking those pictures. That’s my private life and part of my youth.”

Flower

In August, she raised hackles again with her national costume, which featured a huge Vanda Miss Joaquim sewn to a dark pink gown at the Miss Universe finals. Netizens called her names such as the “orchid flower demon”.

The costume was made by Raffles Design Institute’s second-year fashion student Zhang Xiaoqing.

Is Rachel disappointed that the gown drew flak?

“I feel more for the designer. Poor girl, she’s just a student. I really think she did a good job, and she had worked hard.

“People should just ‘chill’ about this. It’s not nice to hurt others just because you have an opinion.”

Yet, such criticisms were mild compared with an allegation made against Rachel before she won the title.

An e-mail was sent to The New Paper suggesting that this year’s Miss Singapore Universe pageant was rigged, and Rachel was allowed to skip the auditions and join midway.

However, Mr Pang insisted, in response to our questions, that she had followed the proper procedures of entry – right from the beginning – and he had photos of her at the grooming classes to prove it.

Rachel also rubbished that allegation. “That’s nonsense. You know how women tend to get aggressive. Maybe some contestants were sour about the competition,” she said.

Despite all that, Rachel doesn’t regret joining the pageant because it “opened many doors” for her – and she got to rub shoulders with the rich and famous.

At the F1 parties here in September, Rachel danced with apl.de.ap from US hip-hop band Black Eyed Peas and was introduced to British billionaire Richard Branson who was in town to watch the race.

Last month, she flew to Sri Lanka for a charity fashion show, which raised 1.2 million Sri Lanka rupees ($14,000) for the Thalassaemia Centre Kurunegala.

It was organised by networking group Singapore Club Sri Lanka. Rachel paraded gowns made by local designer Hayden Ng, alongside nine Sri Lankan models.

Rachel also visited the medical centre, which cares for children suffering from thalassaemia, a hereditary blood disorder.

Early next year, together with an aesthetic doctor, she will launch her own make-up line Rachel K.

Said Rachel, who has a commerce degree from the University of Western Australia: “I’m actually just a normal Singaporean girl. But having a title on my resume helps.”

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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