New Face contestant: I used to weigh 100kg

Click, snap, flash...Click, snap, flash....

It seemed like an endless loop, punctuated occasionally by The New Paper executive photographer Jonathan Choo's directions.

Welcome to behind the scenes at the Top 24 The New Paper New Face 2012 photoshoot held last month.

Now in its 20th year, the modelling contest is sponsored by Subaru MotorImage and co-sponsored by Levi's and Clinique.

Twenty-five turned into 24 because one semi-finalist pulled out. They had to ace this shoot to get selected as one of the 20 finalists.

The grand finale takes place on Oct 4. But before that, check out the Top 20 in their individual spreads starting on Aug 20 in this newspaper.

Make-up artists from Clinique and hairstylists from Monsoon Hair House got straight to work prepping the girls, while the stylists laid out the clothes and accessories from Levi's and New Look.

The studio's air-conditioning took a while to kick in, but it wasn't the temperature that was causing discomfort for most of the girls.

Especially for student Kylie Yuen, 18, who said she was "nervous" and "slightly self-conscious".

She told The New Paper: "I used to be overweight. I used to weigh about 100kg and now I'm 55kg."

She started working on losing the pounds two years ago. The weight is gone, but not the self-doubt about her body image.

She said: "I haven't got over (that) and I felt overwhelmed. I don't think the photoshoot went as well as I had hoped."

Kylie admitted it was a boy who motivated her to get slimmer.

"He is around my height and has a skinny frame. And I realised that if I wanted a boyfriend, I had to lose some weight. "

She added cheekily: "I also wanted to wear pretty dresses."

Kylie didn't get the guy in the end, but she kept on losing weight.

She focuses on eating healthily and maintaining a balanced diet, taking more vegetables and fruits and abstaining from rice, noodles and bread.

In addition, she opts for a more physically active lifestyle, like taking the stairs instead of the lift and jogging when she's free.


Kylie wasn't the only one who had pre-photoshoot jitters.

Even those with modelling experience had to battle their nerves.

Charmaine Miranda, 22, has been freelancing as a model for a while but said she was nervous about the Top 24 photoshoot because it was on a larger scale.

But her fears were unfounded.

"We had a team of makeup artists and hairstylists but (the New Face shoot) turned out to be relaxed and I felt more comfortable."

She added: "The makeup artists and hairstylists made small talk to calm me down. They were fascinated that I could speak Mandarin. " The undergraduate from the National University of Singapore, who's of Indian-Chinese descent, confessed that "knowing that these people are professionals made me feel secure".

The contestants who finished their session and those who were waiting for their turn gathered in a circle on the floor and starting chatting.

Sharing stories of boyfriends and random happenings, they talked and laughed like old friends even though that was the first time they had formally gathered as a group.

For 22-year-old student Monique Freidanck, the female bonding was a positive experience.

She recalled: "When I first met all the girls, it was a little bit daunting, meeting 23 other girls competing for the same thing as I was.

"After meeting them, I realised that they weren't that competitive and it's not like ANTM (US reality TV modelling series America's Next Top Model).

"Everyone's not really catty and really nice, which was good. I was having fun sitting down and talking to them. It makes you realise you're not alone in your quest for (the New Face title)."

For flight stewardess Nadia Bodestyne, 21, the shoot was something "different".

She has joined the contest twice before but failed on both occasions to make the Top 25. She decided to take part again after she was spotted at Tanjong Beach Club last month - it was one of two scouting sessions that The New Paper conducted, with last year's New Face finalists searching for potential contestants who were sent straight to Round 2.

She exclaimed: "It was a dream come true for me.

"I was flattered that they saw the potential in me.

"I've done photoshoots before but they weren't this formal, so this is a new and exciting experience."

Who made it to the Top 20? You can meet the finalists today at 1pm at Orchard Central. They are appearing as a group for the first time for the SPH Great Singapore Sale Grand Draw.

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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