Fashion and fitness

Forum: Can the cheongsam also motivate one to keep healthy?

A cinema still of In The Mood For Love starring Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung. The writer fell in love with cheongsams after watching the movie. She has tried to maintain her weight over the years through healthy eating and regular exercise so that sh
A cinema still of In The Mood For Love starring Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung. The writer fell in love with cheongsams after watching the movie. She has tried to maintain her weight over the years through healthy eating and regular exercise so that she can continue to wear the outfit. PHOTO: WARNER BROS

As Chinese New Year approaches, we are seeing more cheongsam displays in shops.

I wore my first cheongsam on my wedding day as per tradition, but truly fell in love with the outfit after watching Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai's iconic film In The Mood For Love in 2000.

The many alluring cheongsams worn elegantly by Hong Kong actress Maggie Cheung not only stole the show, but also bagged the film the Best Costume award at the 2001 Hong Kong Film Awards.

Seeing how writer Catherine Lim and businesswoman Chew Gek Khim maintain their svelte figures in this classic Chinese dress provided additional motivation for me to make it a wardrobe essential.

On a trip to Shanghai 18 years ago, I bought three pieces, as Shanghai tailors are known for their fine craftsmanship.

I have tried to maintain my weight over the years through healthy eating and regular exercise so that I can continue to wear them. I wonder if having more women wear the cheongsam regularly might help them to curb any weight gain.

Having a flat stomach is not only aesthetically appealing when wearing this tight-fitting outfit, but also achieves better health outcomes through avoidance of central obesity, which increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart diseases and certain cancers.

As a bonus, wearing the cheongsam would also improve one's posture and deportment.

Liu I-Chun

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 13, 2021, with the headline 'Can the cheongsam also motivate one to keep healthy?'. Subscribe