SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - Even if you were local singer-songwriter Ming Bridges’ biggest fan, you might have walked right past her last year, not knowing it was her.
Back then, the 23-year-old Eurasian entertainer — born to a British dad and Chinese Singaporean mum — tipped the scales at 80kg, the heaviest she had ever been.
Her pudgy frame was a far cry from the lean, toned body and flat tummy she flaunted on the cover of Shape magazine in July 2013, where she donned a colourful bikini.
“The weight gain definitely took a toll on me,” Bridges told The New Paper yesterday at Hotel Vagabond, in Syed Alwi Road.
“Some of my acquaintances couldn’t even recognise me...I was insecure, depressed, and in a very low place.”
She added: “The fact is that in the music industry, especially Mandopop, weight is very important.
“When netizens started commenting on my Instagram (about her looking plumper), I took it personally and became emotional.”
The bachelorette, based in London where she is studying for a business administration degree, is currently in Singapore to promote her new EP, Beautiful Melody, a collection of English and Mandarin originals. Her album is out on iTunes.
Bridges said she was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, which is characterised by slow metabolism.
“I was feeling tired all the time and despite going on extreme diets and doing lots of exercise, I was still putting on weight,” she said.
“I felt like a failure, because no matter how hard I tried, nothing was working. When I was 80kg, I reached a point where I didn’t want to do anything. I almost didn’t want to tell my fans because I was ashamed I was ill.”
Today, Bridges weighs 60kg and says she is in a happy place.
Bridges said after she was diagnosed, she managed to shed 20kg over the past year by simply shifting her perspective; from desperately trying to lose weight to simply looking after herself.
“I cut down on exercise and stopped starving myself. I started eating moderately from all the food groups and that worked.”
She also decided to open up about her condition to her fans.
“After I told my fans on Instagram about my (hypothyroidism), I’ve received nothing but support from them. I’m so thankful,” she said.
Dr Desmond Wai, a gastroenterologist at Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre, told TNP that hypothyroidism is caused by “the body’s immune system attacking its own thyroid glands, resulting in the glands producing less thyroid hormones”.
He said: “At its most serious, hypothyroidism can be life-threatening, as patients tend to sleep a lot. There is the danger that they won’t wake up.”
While Bridges claimed that she “did not take medication”, Dr Wai said “(hypothyroidism) is easily treatable by thyroid hormone replacement pills”.
Last month, at a press conference in Taipei to promote Beautiful Melody, Bridges’ celebrity pal, Hokkien songstress Angie Li, appeared on stage to give her a bikini.
Li, 39, told Taiwanese newspaper, Apple Daily Taiwan, that she wished her friend “would continue to be beautiful and healthy” and hoped to see Bridges “don a bikini someday”.
When Bridges was asked if she ever looks back at her Shape magazine cover picture as motivation to lose more weight, she laughed: “I worked very hard to get that bod and while I think it’s still achievable, I wouldn’t pursue it as hard. It’s not my main goal any more. I was so determined and focused, but right now, I just want to stay healthy.
“One of the positive things that came out of this whole weight gain ordeal is that it made me redefine my relationship with myself. It’s important to love yourself, to know you are a kind person and you have the love of your family.”
She added: “We live in a culture where everyone wants to see amazing bikini bods and fast body transformations. It makes us feel that’s what counts in life. But it isn’t.”