The judges picked on her for not being slim enough, but Singapore model Aimee Cheng-Bradshaw took it in her stride to become second runner-up on the third season of Asia's Next Top Model.
A UK size 6, the 1.76m-tall model says "it was really hard to hear" comments from fashion designer judges, such as Australia's Alex Perry and South Korea's Ha Sang Beg, implying she needed to tone up or lose some weight to get ahead.
"I was taken aback the first time I heard it, but I decided not to let it affect me. I wanted to prove to the judges that I can still be amazing in terms of modelling, no matter the size," says the 19-year-old Singapore permanent resident of English and Chinese heritage.
"After all, this is a modelling competition, not The Biggest Loser," she tells Life! in a telephone interview yesterday, referring to the reality television show where contestants try to lose the most weight within an allotted time.
In the third and latest season's finale, aired on Wednesday night, Ayu Gani of Indonesia clinched the top prize and Filipino contestant Monika Sta Maria came in second.
Although "a little disappointed" about not winning, Cheng-Bradshaw says she is happy enough to be among the top three. She was the only contestant from Singapore in the reality modelling contest, a spin-off from the American series helmed by supermodel Tyra Banks.
"If you had asked me in the first week of shooting if I could have gotten this far, I would have said no. I was so self-conscious and uncomfortable in front of the cameras," says Cheng-Bradshaw.
"But I took it week by week and I think I got into that model mentality. The other two final contestants were incredibly strong, so just the fact that I was in the finals, I feel good about myself." She harbours no hard feelings towards any of the judges, no matter what cutting criticisms they threw at her.
"I think the judges were fair. All the judges have given me both positive and negative feedback, and I know Alex Perry, for example, was not pinpointing me. He says these things because he wants to help me get further," she reasons. Perry was also creative director of the show.
The best part about joining the show is that she got to make some "really close friends", she says, such as Sta Maria.
"A bunch of us met for a holiday in Boracay over Labour Day last month. I've become really close to some of them - namely all the Filipino girls - and we talk all the time," she says.
For now, the second of four daughters will continue to do the odd modelling gig until she starts university next year at King's College London, where she will pursue a degree in psychology and biology.
"I still think it's important to have a college education. But I've always wanted to try out high-fashion modelling in Europe and, since I will be in London anyway, I'm going to try and see if I can get some work there.
"Being a contestant on the show, I've learnt a lot about how to interpret clothes and model for high fashion, so, hopefully, I'll get to put that knowledge to use when I'm there."
The finale of Asia's Next Top Model 3 will be replayed on StarWorld (StarHub TV Channel 501, Singtel TV Channel 301) on Monday at 8.45am, Wednesday at 1.45pm and next Sunday at 7.50pm.
This article was first published on June 19, 2015.
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