13 May Melissa Sarah Wee
Melissa Sarah Wee’s muscular frame and determination in bodybuilding definitely inspires many to stick to their fitness goals and hit the gym more often. Today, the multi-talented Sarah runs her family’s hydrotherapy business, while also working as a personal trainer and an online coach. Yet despite her success, her journey has been riddled with many challenges, especially struggling with body image and online bullies.
In an interview with UNSAID, Melissa candidly shares her struggles and how she overcame them, to find her unique definition of beauty and living happily.
“I think it was rather interesting. Growing up in an Asian society and also being educated in a girls’ school exposed me to many restrictions. I felt that it was very suppressive, especially regarding how we had to behave and look a certain way. Also, the media is very influential. Depending on what it is portraying at the moment, everyone aspires to look like what the media projects and that influences one’s definition of beauty.”
“I started working out when I was 18, which was 14 years ago when I was struggling with bulimia at the time, which is an eating disorder. I reached a very drastic stage and was actually hospitalised because my condition had deteriorated and that was the turning point. My mom signed me up at the local gym and I decided that I just wanted to make a change and that was how everything started. “
Online shaming & criticisms
“It was really hard in the beginning having to come to terms with all the comments that were being made about my changing body shape. The first time I appeared in The Straits Times, somebody took my photo and put it on an online forum. There were some very nasty comments written about my body and I actually cried the first time I read them.“
Getting used to it & refusing to change
“Over the years I’ve sort of gotten used to this, but it does hurt every now and then. At the same time I realise that I do not even know these people and I will never remember them. It is not the norm for a girl to look like she’s stronger than a man, and in our society, people tend to be afraid of things that they are not used to. At the end of the day I’m committing to this lifestyle for myself and for nobody else. I refuse to change because this is who I am and I enjoy doing this. If I’m afraid of doing certain things because of what people might think of me, I give up the chance of becoming the best version of myself.“
I do see a change in the younger generation.
“Yes, the bodybuilding scene for women is definitely growing, which I think is fantastic. I do see a change in the younger generation. It’s still not quite there yet, but as compared to 5-10 years ago, when you didn’t really hear of women in Singapore competing in bodybuilding competitions because of the perception that female bodybuilders live in a man’s world. In the past, only the guys would go on stage and do their thing but now there are more shows opening up to women which is great.“
Being a woman means you can be strong and gentle at the same time.
“I think that being a woman means you can be strong and gentle at the same time. It’s a quiet confidence that comes with being nurturing and passionate at the same time. I find being strong and gentle a very interesting combination, because I feel that a lot of women think that we cannot be both at the same time because they clash with each other. I disagree with that. “
I think that every girl should know that she is beautiful;
no matter what shape they are.
“Their self-worth should never be based on society’s preconceived ideas on how a woman should behave. I feel that at the end of the day, if you are happy with yourself, it shows, and people can see the positive aura that’s around you and I think that is a very attractive trait. “
“I think happiness comes from within. You have to decide that you want to be happy and make the choice to be happy. Sometimes circumstances may not allow it, but the day still has to pass. So you can either choose be positive or just be miserable for the whole day. Essentially, it is a decision that we all make.“
Stay tuned to more stories from our ladies!