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Big, Bold and Bea-utiful

Beatrice Chia-Richmond on body image and beauty

55316Beatrice Chia-Richmond is not one to shy away from “sensitive” topics. Her acting and directing résumé is peppered with provocative, controversial choices, from her turn as a researcher of reproductive technology in Immaculate Misconception, to her directorial debut in 2001, the R(A) Shopping and F**king, and later works Dangerous Liaisons and Cabaret, and the rigorous Bent, about the persecution of gay men in Nazi Germany.

Beatrice has boldly gone where many would not dare to venture. So it comes as no surprise that this feisty personality is outspoken about her childhood struggle with anorexia, encouraging and inspiring others with her talks at local support group Support for Eating Disorders Singapore (SEDS).

Having conquered her obsession with being thin by sheer force of will, the statuesque beauty is certainly “going big” now, as she throws herself into each new project with enviable energy and enthusiasm.

We get Beatrice’s take on body image and beauty, and what it takes to be bold and beautiful.

Ezyhealth: How do you juggle your work – including acting, directing and running a concert promotion company – with being a wife and mother?

Beatrice: With great difficulty! These days my great big project is the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the South-East Asian (SEA) Games, which will be held at the National Stadium SportsHub this June 2015. It’s a giant dream project for me and has consumed my life in so many ways. Then there is being a mother to my hyperactive 7-year-old boy who also has this huge personality! To be honest, the only way I can juggle being a director, mother and wife, is:

  • incredible scheduling;
  • having a great support system (my husband is wonderfully hands-on and so supportive of everything I do. My parents and parents-in-law all rally around to help out);
  • having stamina; and finally,
  • having a sense of humour (just laugh when things don’t go right!)

Ezyhealth: It’s not easy raising a kid in this day and age, with so many possible negative influences around. How do you ensure your son grows up with a healthy mind and body?

Beatrice: I look at how my parents raised me and take a leaf from them. My parents raised me well. They surrounded me with love, attention, guidance and were constantly encouraging. I don’t think I turned out too badly! I think if I applied the same principles to raising my son I shouldn’t be too wrong!

My husband Mark has had a lifelong love for sports. Fortunately for us, Mark shares his love for sports with us in a big way. The moment our son Sol was old enough, Mark introduced him to as many different types of sports as possible and let him choose what he enjoyed most. Sol swims, plays tennis and hits a pretty mean 6-iron shot!

Ezyhealth: You suffered from anorexia as a teen. Could you share more about that time in your life and how you overcame the eating disorder?

Beatrice: I was 14 years old when I decided I wanted to be as slim as a fashion model. At that time I was coming out of my adolescent growth spurts and had some trouble stabilising my weight. So I began dieting and exercising ferociously to keep the weight off. Within a few months my weight had plummeted to about 45 kg which is pretty unhealthy for someone my height. My period stopped and I had a number of fainting spells. As anorexia was largely an unknown condition, it wasn’t that easy for anyone to diagnose it.

Anorexia is a complex disorder. It’s not as simple as “starving oneself”. In fact, starving oneself is merely the symptom of the problem. And the problem is generally rooted in an unhealthy relationship with one’s body. For different people, the psychological roots are all different. Some people starve or binge as a way of punishing themselves. So it’s not as simple as vanity that triggers anorexia or bulimia.

I was lucky I overcame it within a few years. I managed to self-diagnose after a couple of years and decided that I didn’t want to be unhappy with my body. Also, the thought of not having my period scared me silly. I think I had enough self-preservation to win out in the end.

edited 55324bwEzyhealth: Are there any other issues you had with your body or looks? How did you tackle them?

Beatrice: I still don’t like putting on weight. But I don’t freak out about it when I do. I just exercise a little more, watch what I eat and focus on the more important things in life, like being a great mother, wife, friend and director.

Through the years, I decided that the best thing was to try to keep healthy. That comes with regular exercise, a balanced diet and watching the mental stress that comes with work. I’ve also learnt to not take too many things too seriously, like not being able to fit into a US size 4 anymore!

Ezyhealth: Where do you draw your confidence from now?

Beatrice: From many things – from being able to accomplish things, having a rewarding career, a beautiful relationship with my husband and son, having great friends, pursuing interests.

Ezyhealth: What would you like to say to people who struggle with body image issues?

Beatrice: I would say go easy on yourself. Don’t take your weight too seriously. Spend more time and energy pursuing interests that give you a sense of accomplishment, rewards you and more importantly, get out into the world. Worrying about your weight and how you look can make you very introspective and you might just miss out on all the great things in life! In gist, don’t let the world pass you by!

Ezyhealth: What are your beauty secrets – for hair, face and body?


  • Eat healthily – you are what you eat!
  • Have fun exercising – pick something that is fun for you!
  • Use sun block!!!
  • Laugh!

Ezyhealth: When it comes to exercise, are you a couch potato, fitness buff or somewhere in between?

Beatrice: I go for yoga at least twice a week. I play tennis once a week, and every Sunday I go for a round of golf with Mark and Sol. I think I’m active enough but I am definitely no fitness buff!

Again, I learnt to make exercise fun for myself. Yoga is something I need because it helps me stretch my back muscles properly. Tennis is my favourite sport and I play golf really to spend the day with my husband and son.

Ezyhealth: It’s time for New Year’s resolutions! Are you planning to take better care of your health in 2015?

Beatrice: I take pretty good care of myself most times. But I do think I should cut down on salt!

Ezyhealth: What are you looking forward to in the year ahead? Any exciting plans?

Beatrice: I’m really looking forward to the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the SEA Games. It would be the culmination of one-and-a-half years of intense work. After that, I’m looking forward to travelling with my family. We are planning long holidays after the Games and I can’t wait for that!

Beatrice Quizzed!
a. Name the three things in your life you’re most thankful for.

My family, my friends, my health

b. What is one thing you’ve always regretted doing or not doing?

I live my life with no regrets.

c. What’s the best thing about being you?

I am surrounded by love and laughter.


Beatrice is an artiste with FLY Entertainment.

Melanie Sim
Posted by ezyhealth on Jan 8 2015. Filed under Cover Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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