Growing up in Taiwan, style adviser Amanda Lee’s highlight of the month was going to the 7-Eleven store to grab the latest copies of Vivi, Mina and Vogue, before rushing back to the school dorm to indulge in stories and fashion spreads.
“Magazines, and now social media, are definitely a big way of shaping a girl’s beauty aesthetic. That’s why I celebrate people of all kinds, no matter their race, shape or sexuality. Being able to see yourself in and identify with characters in the media is so important,” she says.
“Being the fat kid, I always felt different growing up. I was picked on and called names. Did it hurt? Of course. Did it stop me from feeling pretty? Absolutely not. I changed my focus to fashion, and that allowed me to feel good and special in my skin,” she shares.
“Asia has improved over the years in celebrating different body types, but it’s not enough. Girls still feel insecure about living up to a certain standard of beauty. I hope that someday, everyone can just appreciate who they are and have no fear wearing a bikini, even if there’s a roll or two,” she adds.
The 31-year-old has been living in Singapore for the past five years, and works at luxury footwear and accessories boutique On Pedder. “One of my favourite parts of the job is receiving a new shipment. I get to be the first to see what our buyer has brought in for the new season. It makes me feel like a little girl on Christmas Day,” she shares.
Scroll through her instagram (@manwenisabao) and her fun-loving attitude towards life is definitely apparent, with bits of comedic humour peppered throughout her captions and videos. “Bringing happiness and joy to others is probably my life’s purpose. It’s what makes me happy,” she says. What’s her thought process when she posts an #ootd on her Instagram grid? “Dang I look good in this one, I’m going to post it,” she laughs.
Amanda has a tip for those looking to post a cute #OOTD: Leave a little space between your feet and the bottom of the picture frame so your legs look longer. And when you’re posing for a picture, instead of standing still, walk or move a little to capture a natural pose.
As a UK14, Amanda finds shopping for clothes quite frustrating at times. “Usually, the largest size at stores is either too tight on the legs or emphasizes my calves. There are wider selections online, but I hate the hassle of returning or exchanging it if it doesn’t fit. It’s still a struggle, even after I lost 12kg after trying out different sports like aqua spinning, muay thai, and jogging,” she shares.
“Body positivity means appreciating yourself, whatever shape you are, and striving to find the most comfortable skin to be in. Whether you’re 40kg or 200kg, just be happy in it. Now, instead of wanting to look like others, I focus on being the best version of myself,” says Amanda.
Her thoughts on the label “plus size”? “When I see the words ‘plus size’ in a store, I’m thrilled because it means they might have my size! But if you’re a model in the fashion industry, it may have a negative connotation. However, to me, it has less to do with the terminology and more to do with our attitudes around bigger bodies and the way they are stigmatized.”