By Shree Ann Mathavan
CALL us bold, but don't call us dumb.
So goes the retort from the two women in the online series Bored in Bikinis.
Netizens have labelled them bimbos after seeing the bored bikini-clad models, Sonia Krans, 28, and Gui Xue Sha, 23, resorting to silly ways to entertain themselves.
One episode features the two women trying to read business magazines - and not being able to make head or tail of it.
Xue Sha mispronounces Forbes as "For-bees".
Sonia, flipping through another financial magazine, wonders aloud what gross domestic product (GDP) is. She said: "Don't know leh, like shampoo and all that?"
GDP is a measure of the country's economic performance, taking into account the total market value of the goods and services produced in a year.
So where does the shampoo come in?
It's "domestic" and "product" - must be something used at home, Sonia explains to Xue Sha on the show.
Other episodes see the girls tanning in the heart of Orchard Road in their bikinis, or trying to figure out gym equipment, or squeezing into a cardboard box.
The nine-episode series has been online since the middle of this year although production halted two months ago, as Sonia needed time off for personal reasons.
Netizens have griped that the show demeans women. They have posted numerous nasty comments on the show'swebsite.
Remarks include "stupid", "disgusting", "a disgrace to Singapore" and "lame".
Sonia, who has been modelling for five years, said: "I can't be bothered with the comments, although sometimes my friends tell me about it."
For the record, she said: "I am not a bimbo. I do think I'm street smart even though if (sic) I'm not book smart. "I'm smart enough to not let all these comments get to me."
Both Sonia and Xue Sha stopped schooling at Secondary 4.
The show isn't scripted. It shows them as they really are, said Xue Sha.
But she admits the silly bits are emphasised through editing.
What of the nasty comments? Xue Sha dismissed them: "These people are all keyboard warriors, hiding behind the computer to criticise us.
"If they think we are really stupid, why do they keeping coming back to watch us?"
The episode which has the girls tanning in Orchard Road garnered about 64,000 hits and has an even wider audience on video-sharing site YouTube, with about 148,000 hits.
Xue Sha, who is of Chinese-Korean heritage, pointed out that she has not depended financially on her housewife mum and businessman dad, both in their late 40s, since she was 19.
The Chinese national lives here while her father and mum alternate between living in Korea and China. On average, Xue Sha claimed she earns about $5,000 to $6,000 a month from commercial modelling jobs, filming and advertorials on her blog which won the best modelling blog award at the Singapore Blog Awards this year.
Said Xue Sha: "Maybe I'm average, but I'm definitely not stupid."
Are they doing a disservice to women with their ditzy behaviour while wearing very little on the show?
Xue Sha said: "I don't think it's a bad stereotype of women. If you have a good figure, you should show it off, right?"
But she added: "When girls who are 16 or 17 write or message me to say they want to be like me, I tell them to concentrate on their studies first, because they are still so young."
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Both women say that though their parents don't watch the show, their families have been generally supportive of their other endeavours, like S Factor which featured the bikini-clad participants competing in various challenges such as wrestling matches.
Sonia, who is of Dutch-Chinese heritage, said her ambition isn't to become famous, but to enjoy her work.
She said: "I did the show because I enjoy trying new things, and for me the filming is fun. It doesn't feel like work."
She added that the show is meant to be entertaining and for people to have a laugh - even at her expense.
Xue Sha said: "You need me and Sonia in your life to make your life more fun."
This article was first published The New Paper.