Renee lived a very sheltered life growing up. Her strict parents did not allow her and her sisters to go out with their friends after school, and till the age of 10, she bathed with the help of her ah ma che (Cantonese for nursemaid). Even when she was 18 and invited to go partying with her friends, her parents forbade it. “I remember being really upset,” she recalls. While she was waiting for her A-level results, she decided to work part-time as an office administrative assistant. It was a milestone moment, a time she associates with “breaking away from my strict upbringing. I remember thinking that the world was my oyster!”
What was the most memorable incident when you were 19?
One evening, I made up my bed to look like I was sleeping in it, then snuck out of the house to a party. It was an eye-opening evening – my innocent self was amazed at the smooching going on around me! Though I wasn’t happy about how strict my parents were back then, I realise now that they had taught me how to differentiate between proper and improper behaviour.
Advice for your teenage self?
I’d reiterate some of the things my father believed in: that education is the key to a good life and the passport to success. I’d definitely have studied harder!
If you were to relive your teenage years, what would you change? I guess I would have attempted to have a more open dialogue with my parents about my social life – or lack thereof.
Art direction: Audrey Chan
Photography: Joel Low
Hair: Christvian Goh & Zoel Tee, using Revlon Professional
Photography assistance: Alfie Pan