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Wednesday October 23, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Wednesday October 23, 2013 MYT 9:23:55 AM
by christine cheah
Amber Chia expressing her support for the R.AGE Against Bullying campaign in Petaling Jaya.
PETALING JAYA: Before there was Amber Chia, Malaysian supermodel, there was Chia Lee Peng, an odd-looking girl who grew up being bullied in a village in Tawau, Sabah.
She remembered the taunts and the cruel jokes hurled at her during her childhood as well as her early days as a model.
“When I first started going for casting calls, I would be laughed at for my bad make-up and the way I dressed.
People could tell that I was from the kampung,” said Chia, who also recalled being frequently yelled at by people in the industry.
In recounting memories of being bullied, Chia has pledged her support to the recently-launched R.AGE Against Bullying campaign.
When she was seven, Chia was given away to foster parents as her birth parents could not afford to raise her, and she struggled to adapt to her new life.
“I missed my parents, and there was no one I could talk to. I would sit alone in school, and because I was the quiet kid, others started picking on me.
“They would tear up my books and draw on them, and because I was too afraid to point the bullies out, the teacher would end up punishing me for ruining my own books,” she said.
It was only when she was 17 that Chia moved to Kuala Lumpur with just RM300 in her pocket to pursue a modelling career.
Her big break came in 2004 when she was selected as a finalist for an international model search for Guess Watches.
Even now, Chia said she still experienced bullying on social media, where students of her modelling academy were also frequently targeted.
“But sometimes we upload photos of our students on our Facebook page, and people would post comments like ‘they are too ugly and fat to be models’. It really hurts them.” Chia hopes the campaigns will help encourage victims of bullying to speak up.
It is important that people know staying silent is not a solution, and this campaign will help them speak up,” she said.
For more information about the R.AGE Against Bullying campaign, go to RAGEAgainstBullying.com.
> To read the full interview on Amber Chia’s experiences with bullying, check out next Tuesday’s copy of R.AGE.
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Youth, Amber Chia, rage against bullying
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