Give Stefanie Sun a break, say other celebs
Singer Stefanie Sun's casual get-up at McDonald's causes a stir online, but celebs defend her right to dress down when not working
Published on Aug 17, 2014 11:15 AM
Walk down any street in Singapore and people clad in T-shirts, shorts and flip-flops are a dime a dozen.
But if you are a regional superstar, appearing in public dressed like that may just cause a stir in the online community and the media.
That was what happened when local singer Stefanie Sun stood in line at a McDonald's outlet dressed in a pink T-shirt, denim shorts and slippers, and wearing a pair of hipster glasses.
Weibo (the Chinese term for microblogs) user Worm Austin uploaded a picture of the star at the McDonald's outlet on Aug 1.
Several netizens - perhaps accustomed only to Sun's onstage persona in which she is heavily made up and clad in glitzy costumes - have joked about her less-than-glamorous appearance.
Fans called her a "cute auntie who looks spaced out", described her look as being "back to nature" and noted that she was a star without "hang-ups about being an idol".
But are celebrities obliged to look their best even on their days off? After all, it appears that Sun was just grabbing a quick meal.
Local celebrities and public figures whom SundayLife! spoke to say there is nothing wrong with the way Sun dressed and that a line has to be drawn between a celebrity's public and private personas.
Veteran actor Chen Shucheng, 66, says: "Sun is demonstrating to people that when she's not on stage singing, she's just like everyone else. I think it's great that she can put aside her superstar image."
Local Malay music veteran Rahimah Rahim, 58, says: "Fans can comment on our performance when we're on stage. But offstage, they don't own us. We have a right to be ourselves."
They were perplexed by the fuss.
Notes singer-songwriter Dick Lee, 58: "Sun is so famous. I'm sure she knows there might be a chance that she would be snapped in that outfit. So if she knows and doesn't mind wearing what she did, why should people be so concerned?"
Those interviewed say people should care more about a celebrity's behaviour and character.
Ms Jolene Tan, senior manager for programmes and communications at the Association of Women for Action and Research, says: "As a society, we need to stop constantly policing and judging what women and girls wear."
Fly Entertainment artist Vanessa Ann Vanderstraaten, 26, says: "I think my behaviour is far more important than what I am wearing."
Actress and former Nominated Member of Parliament Janice Koh, 40, agrees, adding: "For instance, I would be more concerned about whether I clear my tray at the hawker centre, take recycling bags to the supermarket or hold the elevator door for someone."
Chen believes that the influx of South Korean dramas - in which actors and actresses are always seen looking impeccable - has led to a strong emphasis on "packaging".
Some online critics have noted that Sun would have been mercilessly mocked if she had been spotted in the outfit in Hong Kong or Taiwan, where celebrities are expected to look good at all times.
Local singer Derrick Hoh, 28, would know. During his stint in Taiwan, his colleagues warned him to be conscious of how he appears in public.
"As a newcomer, it used to matter to me. But I eventually grew out of it and decided I just wanted to be comfortable in my own skin, no matter what I was wearing," he says, adding that he loved how Sun looked in the picture.
He adds: "She looked absolutely adorable with those big glasses on."
So would these celebrities dress down when they are not working?
Hoh says he would, adding: "My fans don't get to see me in a plain T-shirt and bermudas all the time."
Former actor Edmund Chen, 52, says he goes grocery shopping after a workout, in his jersey, shorts and track shoes.
Local singer Kelly Poon, 31, points out that Singaporeans generally dress in a "chill" and casual fashion and this culture is what makes Singaporean fans less judgmental of what their idols wear.
She says she would dress the same way Sun did if she were just getting a takeaway from a nearby food outlet and that she usually dresses casually when she is not working.
Some celebrities, however, would not be caught wearing what Sun did.
Lee says he plans all his outfits a week in advance and ensures that everything is colour-coordinated.
"I have nothing that's ill-fitting. Even if it's a T-shirt, it's not something I just pull out from the top of my drawer."
Singer Rahimah says that because of her faith, she will always be covered from head to toe.
She says: "Even if I'm wearing jeans, it will be with a long-sleeved top."
In the meantime, the woman at the centre of this fuss has taken it in good stride and has even responded in a light-hearted manner.
Six days after the photo was uploaded, Sun posted an edited version of it on her personal Twitter feed - it shows a tiara drawn over her head, with the words "So Beautiful OK" scrawled across the image.
What do you think of Stefanie Sun’s outfit? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org
SUN’S ONLY HUMAN
Local celebrities on the picture of superstar Stefanie Sun standing in line at a McDonald’s dressed in a T-shirt, shorts and slippers
“She’s a human being who gets hungry and needs to eat. You can’t expect her to be all dolled up just to get a burger.”
EDMUND CHEN (with his wife, actress Xiang Yun), 52, a former actor
“A star is also a human being. Offstage, Stefanie has a right to her own world, her own space and how she wants to dress.”
JACK NEO, 54, director
“She does her work, she pays her dues, so just let her be. She is not going to the Oscars. She’s going to McDonald’s.”
MUNAH BAGHARIB, 25, one-half of comedy duo Munah And Hirzi
“I remember interviewing Singaporeans at Bugis Junction for a beauty talk show and 70 per cent of the crowd were dressed the same as pop star Sun.”
KELLY POON, 31, singer