Defying The Odds: Priceless Lessons From Badass Malaysian Women
Dove is celebrating women from all walks of life who are not afraid to live bolder
From entrepreneurs and athletes to stay-at-home mums and artists, Dove is encouraging women to not be afraid of being themselves.
In collaboration with Dove, we spoke to Malaysian women who defied the odds to find out what their most valuable lesson was:
1. “I have learnt that I don’t need to have it all together… Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be indescribably beautiful.”
“I am the CEO of Alpha Malaysia, a Christian organisation. I also get to be mum to three beautiful children gifted to us through adoption.
All our children come with incredible birth and adoption stories. Each story is laced with a great number of challenges! The prayers prayed and tears shed in moments of uncertainty reminded my husband and I just how precious each child is; how much we loved them even before we met them.
A good friend said to me at one of the bleakest hours, “Lawyers and social workers could work hard for you. But no one will fight harder than you will.”
We are so grateful that all three adoptions have been finalised! As the journey to obtain citizenship for my girls continue, I shall remember that I am their mother and no one will fight harder.
I have learnt that I don’t need to have it all together. In my imperfection, inadequacies, fears, and anxiety, I always have God and the loving community around me. Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be indescribably beautiful.“
– Wini Heron
2. “I’ve learnt not to use my ‘disadvantage’ as an excuse when I fail.”
“I have scoliosis and compete in powerlifting.
Scoliosis is the curvature of the spine and mine is considered very severe. When I first found out I had scoliosis, I went to see a lot of different doctors, specialists, and chiropractors. They gave me a list of things that I COULDN’T do, including running, jumping, hiking, and lifting weights. When I heard that I felt really frustrated and sad that my body was hindering me from doing all these activities. I felt weak.
But then a few years down the line, my brother Ashton introduced me to powerlifting. I fell in love with it. Being able to deadlift or squat over 100kg made me realise that just because I’m crooked, it doesn’t mean I’m weak. Thanks to powerlifting, I don’t see my scoliosis as a disability or a sign of weakness anymore. It has also helped my back a lot, so that’s a plus point.
I’ve learnt not to use my ‘disadvantage’ as an excuse when I fail. I’m the only one who can decide if I want to succeed or not, so if I want to accomplish my goals and be successful in this sport, I need to suck it up and put in the extra work and effort!“
– Liew Ashley
3. “So much importance is given to inspiration and motivation but… Resilience is what will help finish the marathon.”
“I am a stay-at-home mother to three children and a dancer, and I’m still in the process of overcoming major challenges every day.
Motherhood single-handedly changed the way I use my time. I’m more productive than ever because of a lack of time in my day. I’ve had to restart my dance training many times due to pregnancy and childbirth but I take pride in making sure that I keep dance close to me. Be it through writing, watching videos, listening to music, and practice.
The two words that always stay with me are resilience and intent. I strongly feel that with the right intent it is easier to stay on track.
Resilience is something that I wished I knew of earlier. As children we were taught to avoid failure, however what happens is that we end up not knowing how to recover. So much importance is given to inspiration and motivation but in fact these two also wane. Resilience is what will help finish the marathon.”
– January Low
4. “Doing a 180 change to your lifestyle is not easy… I always tell myself: it’s my body, it’s my call.”
“I’m a Certified Ketogenic Living Coach and I’m focused full-time on helping Malaysians learn how to regain our health naturally through the one thing we love most: FOOD! I conduct talks, workshops, and run my own website KetoJules.com.
I was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) when I was 15, and my symptoms worsened as I grew older (also, as my waistline grew). I was told losing weight for me would be impossible with my condition and the best solution was to be on the birth control pill to regulate my menstrual cycle.
I decided that wasn’t a viable long-term solution for me, and I dug deep to understand the root cause of my condition. Through keto, I managed to lose 20kg, and have gained more energy, more mental clarity, and reversed a lot of the symptoms I was experiencing before.
Doing a 180 change to your lifestyle is not easy, but at the end of the day, this is what I always tell myself: it’s my body, it’s my call.
People will be quick to offer their opinions – and at times, judgement – on your lifestyle choices. So I make sure I know exactly what I’m doing and I keep up with the latest health news to ensure I’m doing what’s right for my body and my health goals.”
– Julie Mokhtar
5. “I battled with a lot of self-doubt and feeling like I was not good enough… but when you need to ‘survive’, you are capable of forcing yourself to do things you never thought you could.”
“I was never good at doing hair. I couldn’t even do a simple braid. But now I work full-time as a content writer and do bridal hairstyles on weekends.
About six years ago, I moved out of my parents house to live on my own and was supporting myself financially. While studying, I worked at a retail store part-time, did cleaning, and babysat, to make ends meet. My sister, who is a makeup artist, suggested I learn hair-styling so that I could join her during her jobs.
I began to watch tons of YouTube videos and practiced on friends’ hair. Eventually, I joined my sister and started to improve my skills. It wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies in the beginning though, dealing with clients and their different experiences with hairstylists was difficult. Over time, my confidence increased and it makes me happy to be able to help brides get ready for an important moment in their life, even if I only play a small role.
One priceless lesson from the whole experience is to never doubt my ability and determination to learn something new. I battled with a lot of self-doubt and feeling like I was not good enough growing up, but being a self-taught freelance hair stylist made me realise that when you need to ‘survive’, you are capable of forcing yourself to do things you never thought you could.“
– Tamara Jayne
6. “If you don’t try, you will never know!”
“I am a stay-at-home mum and run my own baking business called Batter be Belle. I make a variety of desserts and custom cakes.
My biggest challenge was competing with other well-known, established bakers. My business philosophy is ‘never say no.’ When my customers come with a specific design or theme I’ve never done before, I teach myself how to do it and deliver it the way they want it.
My first big order was from Nando’s Malaysia to bake 1,000 cupcakes. At that time, I immediately said yes even though I only had one small oven at home. But I figured it out and did it!
The most priceless lesson I learned is that if you don’t try, you will never know. Before I decided to quit my day job and pursue my passion full-time, I always doubted myself. I didn’t believe I could do it and worried if the business would be lucrative. But I resigned, because you will never know, so just do it anyway!“
– Nabilla Kamal
7. “Always be kind… When you practice patience and compassion towards others, your whole perspective shifts.”
“I made a complete 360-degree career change mid last year – dropped my full time job as an account director in an ad agency, and went heart-first to pursue my passions more seriously – yoga and music.
The hustle has been real. Starting from ground zero and putting myself out there was a humbling experience. There are both good and challenging days, and income is not fixed anymore. But I do believe that purpose fuels everything and when you operate from a space of complete honesty, that makes a difficult decision the easiest thing in the world. The rest comes after .
Personally, I’m not reaching an end goal. It’s the journey spent serving the community – whether it’s yoga or music – that matters to me.
The most priceless lesson I’ve learned is to always be kind. You never know the stories behind the people you meet. When you can practice patience and compassion towards others, your whole perspective shifts. Your whole worldview shifts. Whenever in doubt… be kind. And always choose love.“
– Debbie Ong
8. “If I were to quit… trauma wins and fear would have taken over. So, don’t let the one baddie get you down.”
“Three years ago I hitchhiked solo from Sweden to Malaysia with 200USD. Now I’m making my way around Latin America while writing freelance!
There was this incident while hitchhiking where a truck driver attacked me with an axe. He swung the blunt end against my neck and shoulder blade with intention to knock me out. Luckily I managed to escape and get to safety.
When that happened, I could not believe this was real life. I was horrified, shaken, and didn’t want to hitchhike anymore. But then the night passed, and the sun rose, and I went back out on the road again with my thumb stuck out.
Many have asked, “Why would you still travel solo?” Well, if I were to quit because of this, then trauma wins and fear would have taken over. By continuing the journey in the same manner, I could recognise that this was a highly unlikely and unfortunate scenario. Chances are it will not happen again. I mean, it was one really horrible truck driver out of hundreds of kind drivers. So, don’t let the one baddie get you down.
Also, once you realize you’re over it, you know you’re now mentally stronger than ever. You win.“
– Petrina Thong
9. “It’s OK to compromise”
“I’m a video producer who loves to push boundaries and get the conversation going. My digital show, Lipstik Maskara, got a lot of people talking because we tackled taboo topics in Malaysia.
I’ve faced both praise and criticism when releasing videos about topics like bra problems, plastic surgery, periods and pads, sex education, online dating, and more. It was a struggle to keep the show going because not many people dared to talk about these things in public. Ultimately, the show ended but it taught me a lot.
I learned that it’s OK to compromise in order to bring yourself and others happiness. Although it’s easy to keep pushing your own ideas because you like them, it’s important to balance that creativity and outspokenness with the company’s values, while still leaving a positive impact on society AND generating profit. Find other ways to get your message across, and understand that it’s OK to agree to disagree.“
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In all of life’s moments, live bold!
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This story was originally published on SAYS.