FIRS EVE T ISSU R E! Health & Lifestyle.
SHE’S A SURVIV0R Story of a Teenage Cancer Patient
The Dark Side of manicures
Hidden Health Dangers at Your Favourite Nail Salon
BE STRONGER, LEANER, CALMER Transforming Yourself with Yoga
, e r u t a To N ove With L
e’s in t n le a V r fo s a e Id Eco-Friendly Gift 2/12/12 1:13 AM
2/12/12 1:13 AM
On the Cover The Dark Side of Manicures
Beauty Protect yourself from getting allergies, viral war ts and even hepatitis from the nail salon
A Better Tomorrow Inspiration A teenage cancer survivor’s painful journey of recovery
My Green Valentine SPECIAL Show Mother Nature your love with eco-friendly gifts
Namaste to a New You Wellness Yoga is an ideal exercise for busy young women
Beauty Lip Service
Pucker up for these kiss-wor thy lip balms
Laws of Attraction
SPECIAL Couples express their love through fashion this Valentine’s Day
The Fuzz about Epilators
Tighten & Brighten
Sophistry in Skincare
Why epilating trumps other forms of hair removal A homemade cure for eye bags and dark circles Give your skincare routine a high-tech boost
Born from Love
Life After Death
If She Could Remember...
Entrepreneur Rachel Ong dedicates her life to helping others A teen mum’s love knows no bounds Losing a parent is diff icult, but teen spirit perseveres What if your own grandmother forgot who you were?
Lifting Spirits with Jello Shots
Add a fun twist at your nex t par ty with these Healthier alternatives to your favourite fast food options
7 Ways to Make Peace with Your Body 20 True beauty is being comfor table in your own skin
The Cover Look: Photographer: Yeong Yao Ting Model: Aisha Lin Styling & Make-Up: Rachel Chan & Kelly Ho Hair: Chelsea Chia
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EDITORIAL Editor Patricia Karunungan Sub-Editors Rachel Chan & Kelly Ho Writers Thrishanthini Gopal, Clara Lai, Jolene Sng & Valencia Tan PHOTOGRAPHY Yeong Yao Ting ART DIRECTION Art Director Yeong Yao Ting Co-Art Director Jolene Sng Designer Dominic Neo Contributing Artist Adorabelle Tan ADVERTISING & MARKETING Head of Sales Thrishanthini Gopal Account Executive Valencia Tan
EDITORIAL & DESIGN CONSULTANT Sng-Fun Poh Yoke PINK is a monthly publication Published by PINK Media Pte Ltd PINK Media Pte Ltd 72 Peony Drive #08-32 The Masthead Building Singapore 917652 Tel: 6468 9132 Fax: 6468 9133 E-mail: email@example.com
Welcome to the f irst-ever issue of PINK! It’s more than appropriate that our f irst issue is launched in February, the month of Valentine’s, because the best way to describe what you have in your hands right now is our team’s labour of love. What I especially loved putting together were the Inspiration pages — we sought out resilient young women to feature and you won’t be disappointed by what they’ve got to say. I marvel each time I think about the sheer tenacity of teen spirit to overcome diff iculties. But despite how headstrong and admirable these teenagers are, they couldn’t have faced the insurmountable without the suppor t of their family and friends. And that’s what we want to be for you — more than a guide, PINK aims to be that spunky best friend who encourages you, yet is always up for a girly mani-pedi to talk about the latest beauty and f itness trends. We’ve even give you fun and easy recipes to try out — how about you check out Jell-O shots on page 18 and give our new friendship a toast.
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Patricia Karunungan Editor
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BEAUTY “The Fling” Skin Food Shea Butter Lip Care Bar #2 Watermelon $15.90 from Skin Food
“The Childhood Sweetheart” Maybelline Baby Lips in Anti-Oxidant Berry $5.90 from Watsons and Guardian
If you don’t like the sticky feeling of petroleum on your lips (one of two main ingredients in lip balms — the other is beeswax), Skin Food provides an alternative with its Shea Butter Lip Care Bar. It comes in subtle scents of raspberry, watermelon and apricot. An unscented version is also available for those who prefer just a simple lip balm. Each of the scented bars is also tinted, giving your lips just a hint of colour. Its shea butter formula gently moisturises dry and cracked lips, but requires several reapplications throughout the day. In the long run, we think it’s a tad too gentle to effectively keep chronically chapped lips at bay.
The Maybelline Baby Lips line is the latest contender in the natural lip care arena. Its anti-oxidant formula effectively reduces wrinkles and smoothens lips for the illusion of a fuller pout. It also keeps the lips moisturised for up to six hours. We especially love the sweet, fruity scent it gives off. Our only gripe is that the four flavours currently available — Anti-Oxidant Berry, Smoothing Cherry, Energising Orange and Menthol — aren’t tinted. Instead, you can wear them under your favourite lipstick for a smooth pop of colour. Rating:
Chapped lips are a chronic problem in Singapore’s tropical heat, but here are four soothing and repairing lip balms wor thy of your kisses. By Patricia Karunungan
“The Crush” Kiehl’s Lip Balm SPF 15 in Hue No. 30G $22 from Kiehl’s
Photos: Yeong Yao Ting
Kiehl’s range of lip care products has a cult following, and it’s easy to see why — there is no turning back after trying Lip Balm SPF 15 just once. Its formula is a great match for Singapore’s hot weather: non-greasy, easily absorbed into the skin, and protects lips from harmful ultraviolet rays. It also provides long-term relief for the driest of lips and even eczema around the mouth; lips are kept moisturised for at least eight hours. Kiehl’s sells this lip balm in two shades — Hue No. 30G to subtly enhance naturally pink lips, and Hue No. 58B for a rose-kissed pout. We only wish that this lip care essential didn’t have to be squeezed messily out of a tube. Rating:
“The Boyfriend” Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm in Red Dahlia $15 from Sephora Bur t’s Bees lip balms are known for their all-natural formulas. The Tinted Lip Balm is made of Vitamin E, shea butter, jasmine, ylang ylang and, of course, beeswax. Even the six sheer colours they come in are cute references to the brand’s natural heritage – Hibiscus, Honeysuckle, Tiger Lily, Pink Blossom, Rose, and Red Dahlia. The Tinted Lip Balm keeps lips well-moisturised for up to eight hours. We think that Bur t’s Bees has cer tainly earned its right to say they make “the world’s best lip balm”. The only drawback is that some may not like the minty sensation it leaves on the lips. Rating:
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SPECIAL Jeans and a nice collared shir t, or maybe a tuxedo. Nasrul Rohmat, 21
What will you be wearing this Valentine’s Day?
How has your style been influenced by your other half?
A long dress or a maxi skir t. Fatiha Faulzi, 21
Laws of Attraction
I can’t wear slippers anymore! Glen Tan, 18
I’ve become more girly. Daphne Ong, 18
Do you dress to impress your partner? Yes I do! I want him to look at me and not at other girls. Gail Melad, 25
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Yes, of course! It’s a form of respect. Plus I want to look good for her when I’m out with her. Karl Amogawim, 26
Photos: Jolene Sng
Fashion is a fun way to express individuality — and a great way to show how close you and your par tner are! This Valentine’s Day, we take to the streets for some fashionable love. By Jolene Sng
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Samantha Jones, the untamed go-getter from Sex and the City, took one look at her friend Miranda’s unshaven legs and declared, “I could be on death row and not have that situation.” And if Singapore’s tropical weather is anything to go by, women are bearing more skin to cool off. Hairy legs and shor t skir ts? A lady they do not make.
BEAUTY Epilating can be a painful experience, but its convenience and longlasting results trump other forms of hair removal. Oh, the lengths women go to for hair-free legs! By Rachel Chan
“Over time, it weakens the hair root and one might not even experience hair growth any longer,” says Ms Wendi Chan, a 36-year-old manager of the Pink Parlour Group, which provides hair removal services. In comparison, two days after shaving is all it takes for a woman to feel a deser t of prickly cacti…on her legs.
Enter the Phillips SatinPerfect epilator ($209, available at leading depar tmental stores), a rechargeable device that claims to leave you fuzz-free for weeks. This makes epilating ideal for busy women who want enduring results with minimal effor t.
A variety of other problems come with hair removal methods like shaving, depilatory creams and waxing.
Why Epilating is Better
According to Ms Chan, a layer of cells is removed from the skin’s surface every time one shaves or waxes. An epilator doesn’t tug at the skin as much, thus preventing damage to the epidermis and skin infections.
It takes just eight minutes to epilate both legs — a speedy feat considering the 15 needed for shaving, and the 30 for a waxing session. Unlike shaving, epilating removes hair from the root rather than the surface of the skin. Generally, legs are left smooth and glowing for two weeks to a month, depending on the rate of hair growth.
“I get dry skin after I shave — my skin flakes and it looks unsightly,” says Miss Amy Tan, 21, a student.
Going to Great Lengths There are, however, two ends to a hair. In exchange for the convenience of not shaving for weeks, epilating leaves the skin feeling numb. The pain escalates when used on sensitive areas such as the inner thighs. “For tunately, the pain diminishes with every use,” says Ms Chan. Pesky ingrown hair is another downside to epilating. Hair grows sideways into the skin instead of out from it, causing itchiness and redness. Ingrown hair can be caused by all methods of hair removal but is par ticularly common with epilating. Moisturising the skin prior can prevent this.
Photos: Yeong Yao Ting
Another drawback is that hair follicles need to be at least five millimetres long to be lifted off the skin’s surface by the epilator. Any shor ter, hair shafts won’t be removed cleanly. Women who seek hairfree legs every day would be better off shaving instead. As for me, I’d put up with a few days of baby hair for smooth legs to die for.
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& Tighten Brighten BEAUTY
Reduce eye bags and dark circles naturally with this original homemade remedy. By Patricia Karunungan
Like in movies, cucumbers really do de-puff those eye bags. Eye bags are caused by f luid retention and research has proven that the natural coolness of cucumbers disperses f luids deposited beneath the eyes. Soaking them in green tea heightens their benef its. Tannin, a natural astringent found in green tea, controls inf lammation and tightens the skin. Dark circles are harder to reduce because they’re caused by skin pigmentation. But they can be camouf laged with a brighter complexion — a honey, olive oil and yoghur t face mask will do just that. Honey f ights acne for a smoother skin tone. Olive oil, with its high monounsaturated fatty acid content, moisturises the skin while yoghur t, a humectant, seals in this moisture for a natural glow. Flight stewardess Michelle Ong, 23, has been won over by this face mask. “I look more awake. I’d recommend this to my friends because it’s all natural and cheap.”
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
What You’ll Need: ¼ cucumber 1 green tea bag 1 medium-sized, air tight plastic container Steps: 1. Slice cucumber into six pieces of even thickness.
2. Fill plastic container with water. Add cucumber slices and green tea bag. 3. Seal container and leave to chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours. Skip this step if your cucumber slices are already chilled and cold water was used. 4. Lay down with two pillows to keep your head elevated and place a green tea-soaked cucumber slice over each eye. Relax and leave them there for 20 minutes. 5. Remove and throw away used cucumber slices. Rinse your face thoroughly. 6. Repeat treatment once daily. The green teasoaked cucumber slices can be kept for three days in the refrigerator.
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Brighten Your Complexion Preparation Time: 5 minutes Steps:
What You’ll Need: 1 teaspoon honey 1 teaspoon plain yoghur t ½ teaspoon ex tra virgin olive oil 1 small bowl
1. Mix ingredients in bowl until smooth. 2. Apply mix ture on under eye area with f ingers. Use small and gentle movements. Be careful not to get the mix ture into your eyes. 3. Apply mix ture to the rest of your face. 4. Relax and leave the mix ture on your face for 20 minutes. 5. Rinse your face clean with warm water. 6. Store leftover mix ture in air tight plastic container and refrigerate. Mix ture can be kept for three days. 7. Repeat treatment twice a week.
Photo: Yeong Yao Ting
Tighten Eye Bags
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Sophistry in Skincare Deep Clean
If beauty is skin deep, then there are many skin cleansing tools on the market for helping the plain Jane achieve that fresh, f lawless beauty that good skin can bring. Promising to clean your skin twice as effectively than simply using your hands, a make-up-wearing, beautyobsessed, lazy girl like myself could not resist giving them a shot.
I tried the Clarisonic Plus ($375 from Sephora) and the Neutrogena Wave ($24.90 from Watsons and Guardian) for a month each to see what high and low-end brands have to offer. While the Clarisonic Plus is larger than the Neutrogena Wave, both devices are light, f it nicely into the palm, and provide a steady grip even when they’re wet. Both also claim to be suitable for all skin types and gentle enough for daily use. However, skincare exper t and esthetician Miss Renee Rouleau recommends that we regulate our usage of such devices, as well as exfoliating scrubs.
Photos: Yeong Yao Ting
“[Exfoliation] can be very benef icial to the skin, but if you over-exfoliate, it’s continually causing free radical damage that triggers premature ageing.” With that in mind, I made sure not to use these skin-cleansing devices more than thrice a week.
The Clarisonic Plus cleans the face with a rotating brush head, on which you apply your facial cleanser of choice. In just one minute of use, it removed all traces of dir t, grime and make-up. My skin also felt smoother and softer. But after five days of use, I broke out in small pimples that took two days to clear.
Skincare gets an upgrade as skin cleansing devices take the beauty industry by storm, but let’s see if two of these products live up to their claims. By Kelly Ho
Saving Face What makes the Clarisonic Plus truly sophisticated are the long-term benefits it gives skin. It made my skin smoother, skin tone more even, prevented acne breakouts, and even lightened my acne scars. Chloe Chan, 19, a student, agrees. “The Clarisonic Plus improved my acne and reduced my acne scars [after six weeks].” On the other hand, the Neutrogena Wave didn’t yield marked improvements on my skin tone and texture, however, even after a month. Nonetheless, it is a consistent little trooper — regular usage ensured that my skin remained supple and clear.
The Neutrogena Wave proves equally effective in removing dir t and make-up. It utilises gentle vibrations and a disposable, water-activated cleansing pad to cleanse the skin. However, it needs three minutes to clean the face as thoroughly as the Clarisonic Plus can in one minute. The Neutrogena Wave also doesn’t exfoliate as deeply as the Clarisonic Plus. However, I didn’t break out in pimples even after two weeks of using it. “I only break out when I stop using the Neutrogena Wave for a few days,” says Madeline Ang, 18, a student. The Price of Beauty There’s no denying that the Clarisonic Plus would make a great addition to any girl’s skincare regime, but its price tag of $375 needs heavy consideration. In addition, the Clarisonic Plus brush head needs to be changed monthly at $42 a replacement, which can also be bought at Sephora. A pack of 30 disposable cleansing pads for the Neutrogena Wave costs $13.90, and can be bought at any Watsons or Guardian store. While the Neutrogena Wave won’t burn a hole in your pocket, it is still just a basic skincare tool. My verdict is that when choosing a skin cleansing device, your skin’s needs should reign supreme over the price tag.
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Dark Side Manicures
Kelly Ho & Rachel Chan
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Pigmentation, finish and longevity are the usual measures of quality one rates a beauty product by. However, product ingredients are making their way high up on that list as women become more health conscious. Similarly for the nail industry, consumers are becoming less brand-conscious and more concerned about the chemicals that make up their favourite nail colours. Formaldehyde is the chemical you should be most wary of in your nail varnishes and hardeners. “When treating patients with skin irritation on the hands, I immediately advise against the use of products containing formaldehyde,” says Dr Priya Sen, 48, a senior dermatologist in the National Skin Centre. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), formaldehyde can be found in preservatives used in antiseptics, medicines and cosmetics. It is also proven by the Depar tment of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to be a human carcinogen, a chemical capable of causing cancer in the living tissue. In the context of nail
Photos: Yeong Yao Ting
Your regular nail care routine and products may be doing more harm than good to your hands. Don’t keep yourself in the dark — shed light on how you can keep your shine without the grime! By
The well-groomed woman always finds time in her monthly schedule for a mani-pedi at her regular nail parlour (or perhaps even do it herself). However, beneath the glossy layers of nail varnish that give your nails a healthy and beautiful appearance lurk dangers that might end up doing more damage to your skin and nails than you realise.
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Customers should know the proper standards so they can expect them from any nail salon they visit.
- Ms Sayuri Hoshino, 32, owner of Serendipity Nail Spa care, formaldehyde is a leading skin and eye irritant, and may also cause allergic reactions. “Perhaps why I never look into ingredients is because I’ve never had any adverse reactions to my nail products,” muses 19-year-old student Vanessa Seah. “But like any other beauty product, consumers need to be smar ter about what we are putting onto our bodies.” Knowledge is power, and with great power comes great responsibility. You can rest easy knowing that nail care giants like Deborah Lippman, O.P.I, Sally Hansen, Revlon, L’Oréal and Maybelline are producing newer nail polish formulas that are free of formaldehyde. However, keep checking the labels and product information as the ingredients differ with each range of nail polish. The dangers don’t end just there. Even your local nail parlour can be a hot bed of health risks if you do not take the proper precautions. Whether it’s at high-end nail salons in City Hall and Suntec City, or more affordable nail alcoves found in Far East Plaza and Bugis, it’s every woman for herself. Like how one checks the hygiene standards of eateries and restaurants, one should be equally vigilant about the hygiene practices at nail salons. Even a seemingly harmless procedure like an express manicure has hidden dangers. “Clients place their trust in us to protect them and provide quality service,” says Ms Sayuri Hoshino, 32, the owner of Serendipity Nail Spa. “Customers should know the proper standards so they can expect them from any nail salon they visit.” Some nail salons may either be unaware or intent on cutting costs by reusing emery boards, nail filers, clippers and cuticle removers without thorough sanitization
in between customers. This can lead to the transfer of infections both minor and severe. Such infections include the common cold, fungal infections, and even viral war ts which, according to the National Skin Centre, may take up to 12 months to heal. Even the nail station and foot baths need to be sanitized with solvents between clients to prevent the spreading of germs. “Do not be satisfied with just a quick wipe down with a towel. Expect a proper scrub down with a brush and cleaner,” advises Ms Hoshino. To protect yourself fur ther against possible germs and infections, you can bring your own nail tools for your manicurist to use. With more time, effor t and a little bit of cynicism, you can shed light on picking the right products and services to keep your nails healthy, both inside and out.
POLISHED | Hand+Foot.Spa Having a manicure done at Polished is where you’ll never have to fear poor hygiene. This nail salon prides itself on its medical grade sterilisation practices. Polished uses an autoclave, a machine that doctors and dentists use to sterilise surgical instruments, to rid tools such as nail clippers of all bacteria and fungi. It is also the only known way of killing strains of hepatitis B, C and D. The tools are then placed in individual pouches and are only removed prior to use. Only nail polishes free of formaldehyde and toluene are also used at Polished, which makes for a safe beauty indulgence. At $15 for an express manicure, prices are kept reasonable and match those of nail parlours along Orchard Road. Polished Hand and Foot Spa is located at both Chevron House and 695A East Coast Road.
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Entrepreneur Rachel Ong makes it her life’s work it to touch as many people’s lives as she can. By Kelly Ho
After a year’s research, which included visits to secondary schools, and interviewing youths, Miss Ong decided to star t Trybe to enrich the lives of Singaporean youths. “The children in Singapore do not need to be saved; they are overfed and overindulged,” asser ts Miss Ong. “But I realised they needed real help because when you ask them what they want to do in life, a lot of them are still uncer tain.” Miss Ong commited to Trybe full-time in 2005, after examining her purpose in life. “I quit my job and I gave away my suits, my bags, everything. I wanted to be a youth worker for the rest of my life.” According to the Trybe website, it has over 2,000 volunteers and has touched
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After six years with Trybe, Miss Ong found herself being cajoled by her friends to star t a new project. “We were telling Rachel to star t something, anything,” says Mr Joel Mok, 38, senior consultant at ROHEI. He has been a friend of Miss Ong’s for over 10 years. In 2007, Miss Ong caved in and founded ROHEI with five of her friends from different vocations – law, chemistry, and business — who all shared a common interest in consultancy. Miss Ong herself has 10 years of experience as a business consultant, as well as a Masters in Finance and Economics under her belt.
impor tant responsibilities. “Actually, I am godmother to more than 27 but legally, 16. So should anything happen to their parents, I would inherit the children.” Her oldest godchild is 15 years old, and her youngest are a pair of twins whose parents have been her colleagues and confidantes for over 10 years. While aspiring to have a family of her own someday, Miss Ong is in no rush to get married.
I realised they needed real help because when you ask them what they want to do in life, a lot of them are still uncertain.
Thus began a new phase in Miss Ong’s career as Managing Par tner for ROHEI. Miss Ong works with governmental and multi-national corporations, ter tiary institutions, and initiatives to help the older generation of Singaporeans re-enter the workforce. Miss Ong considers her job as godmother to 16 children one of her most
“I am grateful for all these years of singlehood. Otherwise I would not have been able to star t Trybe or ROHEI,” muses Miss Ong. “I would like to have a family, and I wouldn’t mind adopting.”
Miss Ong is already planning her next endeavour. “I want to do something for China, like helping the youth through media.” With her track record, there’s no doubt that China’s teenagers will soon be touched by Miss Ong’s work — or perhaps even become her godchildren.
Photo: Kelly Ho
Miss Ong’s youth work began in 2001, when her involvement in Save the Children prompted her to star t a project for the youths in Singapore. Save the Children is a non-governmental charity promoting children’s rights.
over 100,000 students in Singapore. Trybe reached another few hundred thousand after expanding to Thailand.
Dressed in sleek black clothing and spor ting just a touch of make-up, is Rachel Ong, 39. Dedicating her life to touching others through her work, Miss Ong is the Managing Par tner of her own business consultancy company, ROHEI, and the founder of Trybe, a youth development organisation. On top of it all, she plays godmother to 16 children.
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Nur Syazwani Bte Roslan used to be an avid citizen of the night, smoking and par tying into the wee hours of the morning. At 18, she is enjoying the best of her teenage years as a pretty head turner. However, the attention is no longer on her beauty these days — it’s on her bulging tummy.
When Syazwani discovered that she was pregnant, she had just completed her diploma at the Management Development Institute of Singapore. Her then-boyfriend and now husband, Muhammad Shukur, 20, had just star ted serving in the army.
Images of past Syazwani: Nur Syazwani Bte Roslan | Photo: Jolene Sng | Illustrations: Yeong Yao Ting
Instead of choosing the easy way out through abor tion, Syazwani decided to keep the baby. In fact, she says abor tion was never an option for her. “We must be responsible for our actions,” she says. “Abor tion never crossed my mind [either],” says Shukur. “We wanted to keep the baby.” Syazwani and Shukur join the rising number of teens and young adults who are shunning abor tion nowadays, as repor ted by Channel News Asia on 6 December last year. Nonetheless, girls who do decide to have abor tions are getting younger, with some as young as 16. Counsellors speculate that girls are falling in love earlier without knowing enough about sex. This wasn’t the case for Syazwani, who explains, “Both Shukur and I knew the consequences of sex, but we didn’t know we would be ‘lucky’ so early.” Syazwani has had to change her lifestyle in the last eight months — she quit smoking and par tying, and is now more watchful of her diet. Calling it her maternal instinct kicking in, she tries to put her baby first in everything she does. Syazwani and Shukur’s biggest obstacle was telling Syazwani’s mother. After hiding it for a month, they finally broke the news. Just as expected, her mother raged and
INSPIRATION When Syazwani found herself pregnant at 18, she cleaned up her par ty girl lifestyle with a maternal instinct that put even her own mother to shame. By Jolene Sng
bawled because her only daughter was pregnant at 18. “My mother dragged me to the hospital and even had all the abor tion documents ready,” says Syazwani. Those were the turbulent times — Syazwani even filed a legal case against her mother for trying to force her into an abor tion. The mother and daughter were so hostile with one another that social services decided to separate them for a for tnight. Syazwani stayed with her grandfather during this ordeal. Syazwani’s mother wrote letters to her daily. In them, she apologised for what she did and asked her to come back home. Now, Syazwani feels that they are closer than ever. She jokes, “My mum’s now even more excited for the baby than I am!” Her mother and husband’s love and suppor t are invaluable to Syazwani, who has to deal with judging stares from the public and even her friends. “In a world where I have medical bills, baby items and other pregnancy things to worry about, they’re the only reason for my sanity each passing day. “Being 18 and pregnant is not easy and I do not wish for anyone to be in my situation.” But there’s also an upside to Syazwani’s condition, apparently — “I get seats on buses now,” she giggles. For any teen who finds herself pregnant, turning to the right people for suppor t is crucial. Babes is one of many organisations that provide teen pregnancy counselling. They can be contacted at 8111 3535. Ms Jasmine Tan, a 25-year-old social worker for Babes, says, “We will answer any questions pregnant teens have and walk them through the decision making process from there.”
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evi is Former cancer pa tient D she a gir l wor th admiring — nd has risen above and beyo her circumstances.
A Better Tomorrow By Yeong Yao Ting
“The next few days were a blur,” she wrote in a journal entry dated June 30, 2007. “I remember being hooked to an IV plug and sedated for a bone marrow test. It was the scariest thing in my life.” Then on July 3, the eve of her bir thday, she found out she had cancer. For a moment, she felt strangely relieved. She thought it ironic how, instead of panic, she only felt security because her family and close friends were by her side. Then it hit her.
The chemotherapy also made her diabetic. Her weight dropped to a skeletal 36 kilogrammes. She had blood clots in both eyes and her hair fell out in clumps. She cried herself to sleep each time she looked into a mirror. “Each time, my resolve to fight cancer grew stronger,” Devi says. “You see, I learned that being different is not a problem. But feeling different is a problem.”
Devi had been diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Her body was producing too many immature white blood cells and, as a result, healthy blood cells were being crowded out.
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He died days later. He remains her strongest source of motivation, and she never even had the chance to learn his name. Devi returned to school in January 2008. She had to repeat Secondary 3 while all her friends were already in Secondary 4. She went from loving school to hating it and always came home depressed. “I had great difficulty making friends. To make matters worse, I was seen as the girl who skipped too much school.” Her teachers were more understanding. “They were patient with me when I couldn’t turn in my work on time. They coached me privately when I struggled,” she says.
Each time, my resolve to fight cancer grew stronger. You see, I learned that being different is not a problem. But feeling different is a problem.
“What if I die soon?”
The next three years of Devi’s life were
me,” Devi says. “He told her to tell me ‘everything would be fine’ and I ‘shouldn’t worry so much’.”
Devi’s illness drew her closer to her friends and family — even to her brother, with whom she used to fight. “I still remember him holding my head close to his hear t when I learned that I had cancer.” One day, a chatty five-year-old boy took the bed beside hers. “He asked his mother about
Devi will never forget what January 11, 2010 meant to her. She learned that she had passed her GCE ‘O’ Level examinations. It was also the day she had her final chemotherapy session.
Now 19, she is in remission and studying Biomedical Science at the Singapore Polytechnic. She hopes to go into pediatric oncology in the future. She also volunteers with Make-A-Wish, a charity that grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses. She says, “I love working with children. I have learnt so much more from them than any adult.”
Illustration: Yeong Yao Ting
Worried that she had dengue, Devi’s mother asked her doctor for a full blood count test. True enough, the results showed that Devi had an abnormal number of white blood cells in her body. She was sent to KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital for fur ther testing and there, she was warded.
spent in and out of the hospital for painful chemotherapy treatments that often made her go into screaming rages. She also had to have a por t-a-cath, a small medical appliance, inser ted beneath her skin to ease the delivery of chemotherapy drugs into her body. But the stitches became infected and required cleaning every day.
Just before her 15th bir thday, Devi (not her real name) awoke burning with fever. A temperature of 38.3 degrees Celsius may not have been high enough to raise alarm, but it marked the star t of a painful journey for her.
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INSPIRATION Losing an immediate family member can turn a teenager’s life upside down, but don’t underestimate the tenacity of teen spirit. By Clara Lai It was supposed to be an ordinary Saturday morning for 19-year-old Henry Law. His dad woke up that day to find the spot next to him empty. He went back to sleep thinking his wife had gone for a morning jog. When he woke up again hours later, the spot next to him was still empty. Something was amiss. When he and Henry went to file a missing person report at a nearby police station, they discovered that a woman had jumped off from their housing building. “I was in disbelief that my mum would actually commit suicide,” says Henry, who is a final year student at Ngee Ann Polytechnic. “It wasn’t until I went to the mortuary and saw her dead body that I broke down.” His mother’s death has compelled Henry to live a life his mother would approve of. He says, “I still can’t believe that my mum chose to end her own life because she was a very optimistic person. But I respect what she chose.” Right before she sat for her GCE ‘O’ Level exams, Wu Meiqi lost her mother to endometrial cancer. She battled the illness for two years before succumbing to it in 2009. Still, Meiqi, now 18, managed to score well enough to enter Serangoon Junior College. “When I return home and no one is in, I feel sad and lonely but not to the point where I just cry and neglect my schoolwork,” says Meiqi. Photo: Yeong Yao Ting
What helped her get through the grief were her favourite Korean dramas and variety shows. She quips, “Even now when I am feeling down, Running Man really cheers me up!” Meiqi also credits her teachers and friends for being supportive. They made
Life After Death sure she never lost focus of her studies — her mother wouldn’t have wanted that, after all.
When Denise Png was 15, her father died of a heart attack. Now 18, she has just completed her GCE ‘A’ Level examinations. “The reason why I took Literature as a subject was because it was a link to my dad,” she confides. “He loved literature.” Her dad’s passing has taught Denise to appreciate her time more. She is determined to spend her life “doing the things that she loves”. Freelance counsellor Ms Jennifer Loola Altheimer, 30, says that grieving youths behave very much the same way as adults. “Their emotional levels can go up and down, and they may not be how they used to behave. They can become withdrawn, moody, depressed or angry.” When the deceased is the sole breadwinner of the family, the eldest child is sometimes expected to take on the role. Oftentimes, the teens aren’t given the time to grieve and end up feeling angry at the deceased for leaving them behind. Ms Altheimer encourages teens to make peace with the departed, and to fill the void with love from other people. “Talk to someone, professional if possible. Your family may be grieving too and unable to provide support. Friends may be supportive, but not able to provide you the best support.”
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If She Could Remember... She has four children and seven grandchildren, but all memory of them has been erased. Madame Mary Wong, in her early 60s, was diagnosed with dementia in April last year. Her condition has now left her bedridden, unable to walk or talk and has to be fed through tubes. “She’s caged in her own body, living but dead at the same time,” says her eldest grandson, Leonard Chan, 18, a second-year student at Ngee Ann Polytechnic. Leonard recalls the earlier stages of his grandmother’s disease — it was only in January last year that his family thought her behaviour had become abnormal. “She would forget to switch off the kettle, or leave the keys at the door after coming home. When her condition worsened, she even forgot how to get home.” By the time she was diagnosed with dementia, Madame Wong was already in the mid-stage. Her doctor could only prescribe medication to slow the development, as dementia is incurable. By August, she was walking into rooms and forgetting why she was there. She also developed a speech impediment and had random emotional outbursts. Eventually, Madame Wong forgot the faces of her loved ones. 82-year-old Josephine Tan has had more luck with her battle with dementia. She is still able to walk and talk, as well as recognise people. But she is not without her fair share of memory loss. Her granddaughter Bianca Tham, also a second-year Ngee Ann Polytechnic student, says, “My grandmother would keep asking
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While most people have great memories with their grandparents to hold on to, some teenagers have to see theirs gradually lose themselves to dementia. By Clara Lai the same questions, and I would tease her that I’ve already told her. Hopefully, that will help her remember better.” Madame Tan, who used to live alone, had to move in with her son’s family when she was diagnosed with dementia in September last year. She is barely able to cook now, and Bianca pines for her grandmother’s specialties. Bianca reminisces, “I miss all the nonya dishes she used to cook for us… No one can ever replicate that taste, not even my mother.” Leonard also recalls the taste of his grandmother’s cooking. “If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t have become so fat,” he jokes. “I wouldn’t be so cheerful too.” Even though his grandmother can no longer speak to or even remember Leonard, she continues to inspire him. He is determined to live his life to the fullest because he knows he may get dementia one day, too. In the final minute of their grandmother’s lives, Leonard and Bianca would only have this to say: “I love you.”
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She’s caged in her own body, living but dead at the same time.
- Leonard Chan, 18, whose grandmother suffers from dementia
What is Dementia? Dementia is a mental disease that degenerates a person’s memory, abilities and, eventually, his or her bodily functions. According to Mind Your Body (a weekly supplement in The Straits Times), early warning signs include: • Short-term memory loss • Time and place disorientation
• Poor or decreased judgment when making decisions • Changes in personality
• Decreased interest or ability to perform familiar tasks
• Loss of initiative and a tendency to isolate oneself socially
While commonly perceived to be an illness that comes with old age, it can affect those under the age of 60, too. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease can appear as early as 45 years of age. There is presently no cure for dementia. There are, however, medications and behavioural theraphies to impede the disease’s development. Family members can also seek counselling to learn how to take care of their loved ones with dementia better. Dementia can also be prevented by a healthy lifestyle. Dr Irwin Chung from the Ang Mo Kio – Thye Hua Kwan Hospital says that reducing alcohol and cholesterol intake, not smoking, maintaining a healthy blood pressure, nurturing interests and hobbies, and regular exercise can lower the risk of developing dementia. According to statistics released in 2010 by the Ministry of Health, about 20,000 Singaporeans (5.7 percent of our population) suffer from dementia.
Illustration cour tesy of Adorabelle Tan.
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Recycle your memories If you’re old-school-ar tistic at hear t, try your hand at making cards out of recycled materials instead of buying new ones. Decorate it with cutouts of photographs, magazine pages, or even the wrapping paper from the last present he got you. With a card bursting with memories of your time together, he’ll know just how special he is to you.
My Green Valentine
This year, make Mother Nature your Valentine by substituting the usual gifts with eco-friendly treasures that are sure to put a smile on that special someone’s face, too. By Valencia Tan
Send him an e-Card instead
Roses are the flowers of love and every year on Valentine’s Day, florists deliver 110 million roses worldwide. While it’s lovely to see so much love on ear th, flower industries have to rely on cheap labour to grow and harvest that many roses in time for Valentine’s. Eco-writer Annabelle Randles says in her ar ticle Guide to an Eco-Valentine, “Like many other industries, the flower industry relies on cheap labour and workers often work in appalling conditions with crops laced with dangerous pesticides.” Spare a thought for these labourers and save yourself from harmful pesticides, too, by encouraging your boyfriend to get you organic flowers on this holiday. They’re pesticide-free and are grown in safer working conditions. Organic flowers last a long time, too — just like your love.
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Remixing the mix tape
According to Green Living Tips, one billion greeting cards are sent out on Valentine’s Day alone. If they were laid end to end, they’d circle the ear th five times! That’s an awful lot of trees to chop down just to say “I love you”! Reduce waste and discourage deforestation by checking out GreetOS.com, where you can design your own e-Card. If you’re afraid that sending an e-Card may seem insincere, this website lets you personalise every aspect of your card so that lucky someone will see love in every pixel on his computer screen.
Even though cassette tapes are no longer sold in stores, CDs keep the quintessential mix tape alive. Music is a powerful way to express love, and giving your Valentine a mix tape with a unique playlist is a creative way to tell him how you feel. CDs are made of plastic and aluminum — they’re entirely recyclable, but they often find their way into landfills instead where exposure to heat, light and moisture makes them leach harmful chemicals that get into the soil and water. Save the Ear th by making your mix tape for him online instead at coolmixtapes.com.au!
Nothing sets a romantic mood better than candlelight, but make sure you’re burning eco-friendly candles. Most candles are made of paraffin and when burned, they pollute the air with cancer-causing chemicals. If you still plan on having that candlelit dinner, buy candles made out of organic soy wax and essential oils instead. They don’t release harmful substances plus they smell a lot better than your run-ofthe-mill scented candles. As an added bonus, organic candlelight reduces your carbon footprint on the ear th. Mother Nature will feel loved this Valentine’s Day indeed.
Illustration: Yeong Yao Ting & Dominic Neo
Ask for organic roses
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Namaste to a New You
Consider picking up the Hindu ar t of yoga for more tranquility in your hectic life. By Thrishanthini Gopal
Yoga first came to Singapore in the late 1960s, and has since evolved tremendously to be a popular form of exercise amongst young women. It is a spiritual disciplinary exercise of Hindu origin that promotes physical, mental and emotional balance in one’s daily routine. With over 40 yoga associations across the island, many are star ting to accept yoga as a way of life.
The Way of the Pose In Singapore’s modern and fast-paced society, yoga provides relaxation and stress relief. It emphasises the impor tances of introspection, distinguishing perceptions from reality, communicating better with others, and positive thinking. Yoga postures reinforce these precepts through disciplining the body and helping the practitioner find her inner source of calm, and loosen anxiety’s grip on her body and mind. All of these help ease the stress, fear and pain that many young women experience in their daily lives. “The more yoga becomes the ar t of my life, the happier and freer I feel from within,” says 37-year-old Mr Manish Pole s/o Anil Pole. He is the founder of Total Yoga, a yoga studio. According to Ananda Marga, a local yoga society, the most active practitioners of yoga in Singapore are women aged 16 to 29. The founder of Kate Por ter Yoga, Miss Kate Por ter, 45, says that many young women want to practise yoga as it helps them balance their hectic lifestyles. She says, “Many of us think of yoga as a set of exercises to enhance one’s physical beauty and stamina, but that is only a small par t of the picture.”
Yoga for Transformation “Regular yoga practice has helped me communicate [better] with my husband,” says Mrs Shelly Chia, 23, a newlywed. “Yoga can make your relationship more pleasurable, engaging and alive.” Ms Sianna Sherman, a 24-year-old primary school teacher, agrees that yoga fosters communication in relationships. “Yoga has emboldened me to discuss difficult issues with my fellow family members.” Photo: Clara Lai
Yoga also helps moderate the appetite of an individual. It shapes practitioners to have a healthier relationship with food and, ultimately, encourages them to be more comfor table with their bodies. Miss Por ter says, “Yoga changes your lifestyle, in terms of how you view your body and yourself.”
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Jell-O shots are increasingly popular at drinking par ties, especially amongst young Singaporean adults. Instead of chugging beer down a funnelled pipe and risking getting a bad hangover, Jell-O shots offer a more pleasant way of enjoying alcohol. There are a plethora of ways to serve Jell-O shots: one could layer them in different colours to make a palatable rainbow, add peanut butter for a unique twist, or even serve them in needleless syringes for a literal “shot”! Jell-O shots add a fun twist to the conventional way of drinking alcohol in a glass, or — what’s usually the case in drinking par ties at home — in a little plastic cup.
Since they are usually sweet, Jell-O shots are ideal for par tygoers who don’t enjoy bitter alcoholic drinks. In fact, Jell-O shots are also healthy treats since the main ingredient of Jell-O, gelatine, is a protein that helps strengthen bones, joints and even fingernails.
However, consuming Jell-O shots too quickly isn’t advisable. Jell-O shots may seem like a harmless treat, but they actually contain as much alcohol as a small glass of red wine, and may cause a person to become flushed on the fifth cup. Jell-O shots can hype up any alcohol-craving crowd, but the key to truly having fun at any par ty is responsible drinking.
Mohammad Taufiq, a 23-yearold bar supervisor at Cuba Libre, advises us not to drink on an empty stomach, not to binge drink, and to always drink lots of water before and after consuming alcohol. Here is an easy Jell-O shots recipe to add that fun twist to your par ty. Remember to always keep your ‘spirits’ high but alcohol intake low!
Tinto de Verano Jell-O shots in mould (Serves 10)
Inject more fun into your next par ty with these unconventional drinks. By Dominic Neo
Tinto de Verano is a cold Spanish drink similar to Sangria. It is made up of mostly red wine and mixed with a carbonated, lemon-based drink such as Sprite or 7-Up. This refreshing drink is great for hot days and, when combined with gelatine, makes a funky tropical delight. What You’ll Need: • 3 limes (ideally each the size of a squash ball) • 1 box of plain Jell-O • 250 millilitres (ml) of tap water • 300 ml of red wine (any preferred brand) • 200 ml of 7-Up • 1 can of longans • 10 pudding cups or jelly moulds Steps: 1. Slice the limes into semi-circles. Place them in the fridge for later use. 2. Boil the water then add in Jell-O powder. Stir until fully dissolved. Let it cool until just above room temperature. 3. Mix red wine with 200 ml of 7-Up. 4. Pour the mixture of red wine and 7-Up into the cooled Jell-O mixture and stir.
6. Gently float a longan on the surface of each cup then fill them fully with the rest of the Jell-O cocktail mixture. Ensure that each longan is fully encased within the Jell-O mixture. 7. Garnish each Jell-O shot by sticking a slice of lime into it. 8. Chill for four to six hours and serve!
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Photo: Yeong Yao Ting
5. Fill the cups halfway with the Jell-O cocktail mixture.
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per bu rger
• 4 hamburger buns • 3 eggs • 2 por tions of bean curd (tau kwa) • 1 medium-sized carrot, washed • 1 lettuce head, washed • 1 tablespoon of olive oil • Salt • Pepper • Sugar • 2 bowls • 1 drainer • 1 egg mould Steps: 1. Mash up the bean curd in the drainer. Drain away excess water and transfer the mashed bean curd into a bowl. 2. Skin the carrot and chop it into thin strips each about 5 centimetres long. Mix it in to the bowl of mashed bean curd. 3. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl. Add pepper, salt and sugar to your liking then add the eggs into the bean curd mixture. 4. Heat the frying pan and add the tablespoon of olive oil. Spread the oil evenly across the pan’s surface. 5. Place the egg mould in the centre of the pan and pour the bean curd mixture into it. Shape it into a patty. Burger Photo: Clara Lai | Cookie Photo: Valencia Tan
6. Fry the patty for about five minutes on medium heat. 7. Remove the mould and flip the patty to fry the other side. 8. When the patty reaches golden brown, remove it from the pan. You can choose to place the patty on a kitchen towel to soak up excess oil before serving it. 9. Spread low-fat mayonnaise, or any sauce of your choosing, on the inside of a hamburger bun. Garnish with a few lettuce leaves and top it off with the freshly made patty. 10. Enjoy your tofu burger!
Tofu Burgers (Serves 4)
What You’ll Need:
The typical hamburger from a fast food restaurant has 270 calories, while the popular White Chip Macadamia Cookie from Subway has 220. Sate your fast food cravings with these guilt-free alternatives. By Clara Lai & Valencia Tan
No-Bake Refrigerator Cookies (Makes 40 Cookies)
Calor ie s
What You’ll Need:
• 3 cups of Quaker Oats oatmeal (uncooked)
• 1 stick of butter (cut into pieces) • 1 ½ cups of white sugar • 1 cup peanut butter • ½ cup of milk • 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
• 1 large pot
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• Wax paper
per coo k ie
Steps: 1. Stir butter, sugar, milk and cocoa powder into the large pot over low heat. 2. Once ingredients have melted, increase the heat slowly. 3. Stir occasionally until the mixture begins boiling and bubbles form. 4. Let the mixture boil for exactly one and a half minutes before removing the pot from the heat. 5. Immediately add the peanut butter, vanilla essence and oatmeal into the mixture. Mix the ingredients together well. 6. Using a tablespoon, scoop and drop dollops of the mixture onto the wax paper. 7. Refrigerate the cookies for at least 2 hours to let them harden. 8. Enjoy your refrigerator cookies!
Repeat steps 5 to 9 to make more tofu burgers.
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By Thrishanthini Gopal
to Make Peace with Your Body
Teenage girls have become so obsessed with their physical appearance that they have lost sight of what beauty really is. Body image isn’t just about weight and size — it’s also about self-esteem, and it can affect all par ts of your life. A survey by Dove in January 2011 found that 84 percent of teenage girls in Singapore want to alter their physical appearance. 60 percent have low self-esteem because they thought of themselves as “too fat” or “ugly”.
the body bashing! Always thinking negatively about your body is self-destructive.
But did you know that, according to research, others see you 20 percent prettier than you think you are? This is because when you look at yourself in the mirror, you’re judging yourself based entirely on your looks. Others see also your personality.
- Santhiya d/o Perums, 25, a public relations executive
The founder of Image-Harmony Style Consultancy, Miss Melissa Chor, 33, agrees. “Whenever you feel down about yourself, try to compliment your strengths. You are not defined solely by the way you look.” When you have a positive body image, it shows that you’re comfor table in your own skin and that kind of confidence is true beauty. Star t making peace with your body with these seven tips now.
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all of yourself — crooked teeth, dimples, shor t legs and all. Perfection is boring. Uniqueness is hot!
In my opinion striving for ‘the perfect body’ is not worth destroying your health for
when people, movies, television shows and magazines are making you feel bad about yourself and ban them from your life. No matter who or what they are, they aren’t wor th it if they are making you unhappy.
“I’m flat-chested and when I was growing up, all my friends were flaunting their own assets. I always tell them that ‘my brains are up here and not in my breasts!’ You have to be very confident about who you are by accepting your flaws.” — Miss Suzenne Zheng, 45, founder of First Impressions Image International.
the diet! Don’t obsess over calories and the number on the weighing scale. Develop a healthy relationship with food instead. “I went on many crash diets. I got gastric pains because of that bad habit. In my opinion striving for ‘the perfect body’ is not wor th destroying your health for.” — Santhiya d/o Perums, 25, public relations executive.
on being fit instead of thin. Feeling comfor table in your own skin is much more fulfilling than being a size zero. Plus it’s a confidence booster!
only in what makes you feel confident. Find your own style and stay true to yourself.
that your body is an amazing thing that stays with you for life. It should be respected, not resented. “Be thankful for all the activities you are able to do with a healthy body. A healthy mindset leads to a better self-image.” — Miss Chor, 33, founder of Image-Harmony Style Consultancy.
Photo: Yeong Yao Ting
Beauty lies in a positive attitude and a healthy lifestyle, not in the numbers on the weighing scale.
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