SINGAPORE — Actor Romeo Tan opened up about his weight issues when he was younger and being bullied about it in school in the latest episode of talk show Hear U Out.
Tan had already talked about being overweight as a student in previous interviews. However, he shared more details with Hear U Out host Quan Yifong about what he went through in school because of his size.
The 36-year-old actor said that when he was in primary school, he had already reached a height of more than 172cm. When he reached secondary school, his weight was 92kg at his heaviest.
Besides his weight, his unusual name was also made fun of.
"Imagine being called Romeo and looking like that. How could I be happy?" said Tan, in an apparent reference to the character in Shakespeare's famous play, Romeo and Juliet.
He recalled a teacher once saying in front of the entire class, "I've never seen such a fat Romeo," and his classmates laughing.
Tan said his father had given him the name of Romeo. His two brothers also had names that began with "R" – Robin and Rowell.
Tan said his father did not think about what his name in Chinese would be when he named him Romeo, which is how he ended up with a Chinese given name with three words – "Luo Mi Ou" – a transliteration of Romeo.
Tan also recalled being bullied by other students. He said his classmates would shoot rubber bands at him, and squeeze correction fluid on his chair so that it would leave white stains on his pants when he sat down.
A particularly upsetting incident was when a student pushed him and made him fall from his bicycle. Tan said the bully dipped his shoe in drain water and smeared it onto his leg. Tan did not tell anyone about this, though – not even his parents.
Quan asked him whether he retaliated against his bullies, but Tan said that while he felt hurt, he took everything in his stride. To cheer himself up, he would eat fast food or ice cream, or play video games.
Later on, when Tan was a Secondary 4 student, he realised that he was too overweight and had to lose weight.
Determined to slim down, Tan lost 20kg and was later even discovered by a talent scout while he was still studying in a polytechnic. Tan started modelling and acting as an extra while still in school.
His acting career became successful after he became one of the finalists of Star Search 2010, and the rest, as we know, is history.
Romeo Tan can be seen in upcoming drama In Safe Hands, which will premiere on 7 March.
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