Bullying. Criticism. Insecurities.
No matter why they joined Manhunt Singapore 2014 and Senior Manhunt Singapore 2014, the 26 finalists were proud that they ended their pageant experience being cheered on loudly by their supporters.
Acceptance and approval is what they sought and the men claimed their validation with big, confident smiles.
The winners at last night's glitzy event at the One Farrer Hotel And Spa were National University Of Singapore law undergraduate Nicholas Ngo (Manhunt Singapore 2014) and business development manager Choo Yew Meng (Senior Manhunt Singapore 2014).
What they had in common were less than happy childhoods which they have firmly put behind them with their wins.
Recalling his most humiliating experience as a child, Mr Choo, 45, who calls himself the "uncle with the young attitude", told The New Paper: "I was asked to join a race when I was a kid and on that day, I realised that it was a race for fat kids.
"In this pageant, I was true to myself and I enjoyed the process. I want to motivate people by telling them that age is definitely just a number."
Mr Ngo, 24, revealed that he was a weak, skinny and "translucent-looking" baby and used to fall ill often when he was young.
Now, standing at 1.73m, weighing 66kg and glowing with health, he recounted how he overcame his sickly childhood by becoming a gym rat and practising Muay Thai.
He said: "My faith has supplied my strength and wisdom.
"My family and friends, who have always pushed me, also inspired me to be the best I could be."
The show, which started promptly at 8pm, saw the finalists being treated like rock stars. The moment they appeared, the audience were screaming their heads off for their favourites.
Mr Ram Bala, a 41-year-old group exercise instructor who got the most fanatic screams, was grinning from ear to ear as his ardent supporters flashed his name on a sea of billboards.
It was also touching to witness fans of businessman Andrew Ang, 41 - who has an autistic son - display posters promoting awareness for autism.
The highlight of the night was definitely the performance segment, where all the finalists gathered to shake their booty.
Dancing energetically, doing push-ups and performing martial arts in only white trunks, they made the crowd go wild with their sexy display of toned biceps and rock-solid abs.
The winners walked away with more than $36,000 in cash and prizes.
Manhunt Singapore 2014
Winner - Nicholas Ngo, 24, NUS law undergraduate
First Runner-up - Nicholas Chong, 25, personal trainer
Second Runner-up - Wesley Ee, 23, NUS real estate undergraduate
Senior Manhunt Singapore 2014
Winner - Choo Yew Meng, 45, business development manager
First Runner-up - Vincent Lam, 37, bank manager
Second Runner-up - Linus Li, 56, senior sales executive
This article was first published on Sept 12, 2014.
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