SHERALYNN SHEN JEGA, 20
Judging by the behind-the-scenes experiences of Sheralynn Shen Jega, you'd think she would have been put off beauty contests.
While pageant veterans like Colleen Francisca and Shenise Wong have fond memories of the camaraderie among contestants who help one another fix their gowns, she says: 'I find it very hard to make friends at these competitions because people can be two-faced.'
The advertising student at Lasalle College of the Arts, who has just finished her first year, adds: 'Some of the more competitive girls stare at you just before you step out to make you feel uncomfortable.'
Then there was an occasion when she ran into a former competitor at a casting.
Not only did the other girl ignore her, she later 'dissed' her on her blog with 'unkind words'.
Still, Jega, who is of Chinese-Indian parentage, does not regret entering the world of beauty pageants.
And it doesn't matter to her that she has not won the crown at any of the four competitions she has taken part in so far.
'The great thing is that each competition has left me with a different experience and taught me something new,' she says.
Take the Elite Model Look Asia Pacific 2006, where she was one of two girls sent to Shanghai to represent Singapore in the competition.
'It was my second competition and I learnt what a big international competition is like,' she says. 'I also learnt from the other girls by observing their behaviour and the way they interacted with others.'
The one competition that turned things around for her, she says, was The New Paper New Face contest, her third contest.
'It launched my career,' says Jega, now a part-time model.
She took part in the contest last year and was one of the top six finalists out of 20 picked to take part in a fashion show held by Takashimaya the day before the finals.
Since then, she has been offered various modelling jobs and has signed on to a modelling agency.
Modelling, she says, is a career option after she graduates.
As for whether she will continue taking part in beauty contests, she says: 'I'll take it as it comes.'
No. of pageants: 4
No. of crowns: 0
This article was first published in Urban, The Straits Times on Jun 5, 2008.