Singapore’s favourite Mandopop star Stefanie Sun was recently photographed at a local fast food joint dressed in casual garb. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t even be news. However, because certain people have taken it upon themselves to write how Sun has an “obligation” to dress up in public, Vanessa Tai now feels obliged to speak up.
To be honest, I had no idea there was even a brouhaha over Stef Sun’s fashion choices until Debs showed me this newspaper article. In it, the writer criticises the singer’s choice of outfit, saying that Sun “has an obligation to put some effort into how she looks in public” as she needs to “set a good example for her fans, especially the younger ones.”
Let’s get one thing straight, shall we? Stefanie Sun is an entertainer. The only “obligation” she has — if we really have to use that word — is to entertain, and that is only if we have forked out money to attend her concert. Other than that, it’s really her prerogative to do whatever she pleases. Why?
Her choice of outfit has zero relevance to “setting a good example”
Since when did someone’s dressing become a reflection of their values or principles? Look, she wasn’t going onstage nor was she hitting the red carpet. She was grabbing FAST FOOD, for crying out loud. Ask any (level-headed) Singaporean and they’ll tell you what she wore was completely appropriate. If anything, I reckon her lack of self-consciousness and down-to-earth approach— especially after 14 years of being in showbiz — is admirable. In fact, after the photo of her popped up online, Sun posted a tongue-in-cheek response on her Twitter account. She posted a modified version of the same photo, with the words “So Beautiful OK” scrawled across the photo.
This ability to laugh at herself and shrug off detractors sets a far better example than any carefully-curated outfit choice will.
Her choice of outfit has zero relevance to her work
In her 14-year career, Sun has bagged numerous industry awards and has legions of fans across Asia. Talent aside, I daresay the main reason for her success is plenty of determination and hard work. It certainly is not because of her sartorial choices. And anyway, what is up with this fixation on a woman’s appearance? No matter how capable or successful a woman is, she will still be judged on how she looks. Just look at how certain news outlets dedicate columns of print just to tear apart the outfit choices of women like Hilary Clinton or Angela Merkel. Here are two people with brilliant minds looking to make a positive contribution to society and all we can think about is how they chose to wear a pantsuit … really?!
If we are ever going to make positive strides in workplace equality, we need to stop obsessing about people’s appearance and focus on what can they bring to the table instead. In this case, Stefanie Sun’s talent and success as an entertainer is the only thing that matters. Everything else is irrelevant.
About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 27-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets.