SINGAPORE - Most women pile on the kilos during pregnancy and cannot wait to shed the flab. Not only did getai star Liu Lingling lose 10kg after giving birth last month, but she also hopes to regain the weight.
The 50-year-old, who credits her weight loss to "little sleep" over caring for her newborn son, says it is her famously full figure, after all, that gives her an edge.
Speaking to reporters yesterday at the filming commencement ceremony for her upcoming movie Filial Party, she explains in Mandarin: "If I am thin and beautiful, it's harder to stand out compared to all the other beautiful performers. But there are not as many chubby stars out there."
She adds, half in jest: "Also, being fatter means people will find me less of a threat. If I am fat and go out with a married man alone, his wife will be like, 'Oh, that's okay, it's just Liu Lingling.' But if I am thin and go out with the guy, his wife will ask, 'Why are you going out with Liu Lingling?'
"Anyway, I now have a whole bunch of larger-sized clothes that I can't wear. So I must gain back the weight."
She now weighs 73kg and hopes to "go back up to at least 80kg".
It was her first media appearance since she made headlines for giving birth to her first child at the age of 50 last month. She had kept her pregnancy a secret, so the news reportedly took even her family members by surprise. She had brush off remarks about her growing tummy when she was pregnant.
Filial Party, which is directed by Boris Boo and features a star-studded cast including Ann Kok, Christopher Lee, Mark Lee, Kym Ng and Irene Ang, is slated for release next year. The comedy revolves around the contestants of a reality game show who try to outshine one another in demonstrating their sense of filial piety to bag $1 million. Liu plays Christopher Lee's mother.
In real life, the new mother says she is "happy", but admits she has been getting little rest since her baby was born. "I don't get much sleep now. Whenever he cries, I have to check on him before I can go back to sleep again. I've read up on this and it's supposed to be normal for babies to cry at night, it helps their lungs. But, you know, I will still be very worried."
She is trying hard to juggle work and motherhood but confesses it is not easy.
"Still, I strive to do the best I can in whatever I'm doing at that moment. So if I'm with my baby, I will give him 100 per cent of my time and attention. If I'm on stage and working, then I will give 100 per cent to that."
She jokes that before leaving her child at home with her helper for this event, she had "chided" him for feeding too slowly. "I breastfeed and I kept saying to him, 'You'd better hurry up because mummy has to go off to work and you won't have any milk soon'," she says with a chuckle. "Of course, I miss him when I'm apart from him, but work is work, and I will give that my all."
Besides her helper, her sister-in-law, who lives across the street, also visits often to help out.
Her son - whom she calls Xiang Xiang - was conceived via in vitro fertilisation (IVF), but she declines to reveal the identity of his father. She has reportedly been married to a businessman for 15 years but the couple are said to be estranged.
She also declines to reveal the surname of her baby. "I know everyone is very interested in that, but I'd rather keep that private. Anyway, you can have your name legally changed, so he may do that when he grows up."
This is her second attempt at artificial insemination. The first ended in a miscarriage in 2011. She has long yearned to be a mother. "I told director Royston Tan that I wanted to give up a day before my IVF," she reveals. "But he told me to try again. He said, 'You have been trying for so long, don't you think it's a pity to give it all up?'"
So will Tan act as the baby's guardian if anything happens to her? She says with a laugh: "I didn't specify it, but I can say he's really great with children. I have seen from the way he films them and interacts with them that he understands them well."
Liu has starred in a number of Tan's works, including films 881 (2007) and 12 Lotus (2008).
Despite her significant weight loss, she wants to assure her fans of her wellbeing. If anything, she says she is feeling "better than ever".
"I used to have to take pills for diabetes and high blood pressure but after giving birth, I no longer take them. I'm really healthier now, so don't worry. Even though I'm an older mother, I'm fine."
Filial Party is slated for release next year.
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