Singapore supermodel Sheila Sim hates nudes
By Chew Wan Ying
She's a picture of serenity as she pounds the runway in killer stilettos, but Singapore's top model Sheila Sim says that's actually her worst nightmare. "My biggest fear, ironic as it sounds, is high heels," she told Daily Chilli when we met her at the PUMA Social Finale Party recently.
Her fear stems from tumbling on the catwalk a few years ago. "Since then I've been paranoid about modelling in high heels, especially with a long dress on."
Her phobia reached a stage when she even considered calling in sick for a show. "It's a matter of mind over body. I keep telling myself that I can do this," she said. "I used to think that I wouldn't wear heels beyond four inches. These days I tell myself to just try."
Sheila, the niece of Singaporean supermodel Ivy Chng, was only 16 when she was "discovered" at Ivy's wedding. A year later, the teenager moved to Hong Kong to launch her career. The fresh-faced beauty soon expanded her portfolio with jobs in Milan and Tokyo.
Four years later, she returned to Singapore and made her acting debut in the 2008 movie Autumn In March. Recently, the 27-year-old became the first Singaporean to be appointed as an ambassador for the SK-II product range.
It may sound like smooth sailing for her, but she says rejection is "maybe 80%" of a model's career. "When I started modelling and I went for casting, I failed nine out of ten times. Even now when I've been in the industry for a while, I still face rejection sometimes."
She says the fashion shows in Italy showed her how cutthroat the industry can be. "It's so different from Asia. You queue for two hours just to show your portfolio. If they don't like what they see, they just shut your book. It's traumatising if you're not ready for it."
"Back then, I took it very personally. When I matured, I told myself there'll always be people who don't like you. Your time will come in another issue or another show," she added.
She likens a modelling career to an expressway of self-discovery. "You grow much faster. You learn how to deal with challenges and rejection. You also meet new people and learn from their inspiring stories."
Despite her flawless appearance, she insists she's a typical girl-next-door type. "People have this stereotype that models wear high heels and short dresses. I'm mostly in flats, and most of the time I just wear T-shirts and shorts. I even have these big glasses."
"Who you see in magazines is the model. It's an occupation. It shouldn't dictate who I am. In my personal life, it's definitely comfort over fashion. My closest friends know that I don't wear makeup when I'm just out with them."
A bigger misconception is that she doesn't eat, chat or smile. "I'm always talking and laughing. Since young, my parents were like, 'Can you stop talking on the phone?'"
"I get very angry when people say I don't eat. I work very hard. I exercise three times a week, two hours every time. I'm lucky in that I've been eating healthy since I was young," she said.
While she's clearly in top form, don't expect her to bare it all in the name of fashion. "I don't do lingerie and swimwear shoots or nudes. I'm not comfortable flaunting my body. I don't want my father, my grandfather or my relatives to see me like that," she said.
"Not that I'm against others doing it," she added. "It can be good if it's artistic and tasteful. Your body won't stay like this forever. There may come a day, when I'm pregnant or at the peak of my looks, that I may do a nude shoot, so that when I'm old I can look back and show my grandchildren, 'This is how great your grandma used to look!'"
Published: 19th July 2012