By JAYDEE LOK
IT IS easy to assume that someone as beautiful as Nadine Ann Thomas had a relatively charmed life while growing up. The Miss Universe Malaysia 2010 is definitely a looker and her Indian, Chinese and English parentage have only added to her exotic beauty. So her childhood must have been pretty breezy, yes?
Unfortunately, things were not always easy for Nadine. The very look that is fawned upon now was the main reason she got taunted in school.
With her Indian looks and a predominantly Chinese upbringing, it was not easy for Nadine to mix with her schoolmates from neither ethnicity. She was called names and even accused of lying about her parentage.
Even years after leaving school, Nadine remembers how it feels to be bullied and that was why she didn’t think twice about supporting R.AGE Against Bullying and help put an end to bullying everywhere.
When did the bullying start?
It started when I was in kindergarten and lasted till I was about 15. At school, the Chinese girls didn’t want to mix with me because of the colour of my skin. I would go to friends’ houses and their mothers would tell them not to bring me over so often because I had “dirty skin”.
On the other hand, because I couldn’t speak the language and I didn’t know much about my Indian culture, (the Indian girls) would say things like, “Oh she thinks she’s better than us because she’s mixed,” or “She’s only pretending she doesn’t speak the language”. My mother would come to school on report card day and (being of Chinese and English heritage) my mum looks completely different from me and so, when I was in Standard 3 until I was in secondary school, everyone said I was a liar and that I was adopted and I had lied about my mixed parentage.
How has being bullied affected you?
Being bullied keeps chipping away at your self-esteem so by the time I had left school, I had very low self-esteem. I think because of that, I had a bit of a culture shock when I was in university and made a lot of bad decisions, which I feel I would not have made if I had known myself a little better. At the end of the day, the experience made me stronger. I think bullying goes both ways. If you’ve been bullied, you either become an anti-bullying advocate or you become a bully yourself.
How do you advocate your stance on anti-bullying?
I’ve written articles on bullying based on my experience and also on women’s development and styling. Growing up, I didn’t want other girls to feel the way I did and I think that if I, or someone else, can prevent that, it really helps. Everything is accessible online, so it’s easy for victims of bullying to get information and to not feel alone.
What kind of response have you received from the articles you’ve written?
A lot of the girls who have reached out to me are of mixed parentage as well. Some of them have had the same experience, and some even say things like, “I’m really sorry this has happened to you but thank you for sharing your story”. I think it makes them feel better to know that they’re not alone.
How can we stop bullying?
I think it starts with the parents. Parents sometimes don’t realise that children absorb everything that they hear and it is their opinions that influence the children to say or do nasty things to other children. Following that, the kids need to be educated and made aware that the things they say can have a negative effect on someone else.
If you’ve been a victim of bullying, go to R.AGEAgainstBullying.com for support and resources.