SINGAPORE - Dollar signs flash before her eyes when she sees a fat person walking through the doors of the slimming centre.
"It may sound all wrong, but seriously, I am turned off each time I see a fat woman walk in the centre," the slimming consultant says in a mix of English and Mandarin.
"But I'll be all nice and friendly because I can hear the cash register ringing and see the dollar signs where (the clients') fats are," says the consultant, who wants to be known only as Miss Lee.
She asks that we do not use her full name as she does not "want to break (her) rice bowl".
Miss Lee, 29, is 1.65m tall and weighs only 48kg. She says that she loves to eat, but watches her weight carefully.
"How much confidence can a customer have if she walks in and is attended to by a fat consultant?" she asks with a mock slap on her forehead.
Plus, fat disgusts her personally - and she admits that she thinks fat people are ugly.
But she smothers this "instinctive feeling" because the money can be good.
"Fat people will pay a lot of money to get skinny because they feel so bad and they want to be accepted in society."
How to get them hooked?
Good interpersonal skills, being energetic and enthusiastic about grooming are pre-requisites for her job, she says, ticking the points off on her fingers.
"But it's really saying the right things at the right time," Miss Lee says with a chuckle.
$4,000 a month
And that's one of the chief reasons - she proudly declares - that she is one of the top three consultants in the chain of beauty and slimming salons where she has worked nearly four years.
One of the benefits of the job is the attractive high commissions she gets when she can convince a customer to sign up for a new package.
Miss Lee declines to reveal her cut but claims she can earn $4,000 a month easily.
She says: "Common sense tells you that motivation is very important when one is trying to win a weight battle.
"Customers who walk in want a solution to solve their weight problems. They want you to feel sorry for them and at the same time, they want to hear from you that you empathise with them."
But some of her colleagues, she claims, will go the other way.
Instead of offering empathy, they act like being fat is a sin or a crime.
Miss Lee says that in her book, insults don't work.
"Which idiot wants to pay to get insulted?"
Her tactic: "Occasionally, if I know a customer is still in two minds, I just share 'my own story'.
"I'd claim that I've gone through being fat and most times, they buy the story because, like I said earlier, they just want to know that someone can feel what they are going through."
She adds: "It's also important to make your customers feel like they are number one, as the fat ones usually have low self-esteem... you know, it's a case of big size, small ego.
"I'd say, 'Oh yes, you are fat, but that's not going to be a problem because that's why we are here. Look at me, if I can do it, you can too'."
'Anyone can stay slim'
Miss Lee says she can tell the potential customers from those who just "walk in to look-see-look-see".
"If they walk in alone, it's a 90 per cent hit," she claims.
With a roll of her eyes, Miss Lee adds: "I hate those who walk in with promotional leaflets or brochures. Or those who wave discount coupons for tie-in promotions with some other third-party clients."
"They are the cheapskates and chances are, you won't get a cent when they walk out of the door."
Miss Lee admits that weight-loss programmes are not easy to follow.
"But if you take the right supplements or get the right programme written for you, can one," she says.
"It's also all about controlling your food intake and incorporating exercises into your lifestyle. Both are a must.
Anyone who says you can continue to eat as much and not exercise is lying - and blatantly."
When a new customer comes in, Miss Lee will look at the whole person, including her health history, lifestyle and any other factors that may have influenced her weight gain or hindered her chances of staying slim.
She says: "Actually, if you think about it, anyone can stay slim. It's just a matter of changing your lifestyle or habits.
"Those who manage to accomplish it with us? It's only because they don't not want the thousands of dollars they would have spent on the slimming course to go down the drain."
This article was first published in The New Paper.