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Eye on the Prize

Malaysia's Florence Chin is tackling her goal one step at a time

Florence Chin's life may be in transition, but she always keeps her eyes on the prize - to be the woman who creates the first size acceptance support group in Malaysia.

Chin, 31, who was born in Penang Island and raised in Kuala Lumpur, worked for ten years in the fashion retail industry as a daily operations and marketing manager. During that time, she says, "I was once told by my former employer that she'd rather not put me in such a prominent retail outlet because of my size." Today, while Chin confesses that she "loved retail fashion, and enjoyed dealing with the customers and staff," she says, "The only thing I disliked was having to deal with the industry people."

As her goal of creating a Malaysian support group for plus-size women took shape, Chin began to realize that satisfaction wouldn't come from a retail outlet. "I decided that I want my success to be based on something more fulfilling than just an important title on my business card."

Thus, three months ago, Chin moved to England, where she will begin taking classes in Sociology, Psychology and Women's Studies. "I quit my job to prepare myself to do something that I know will make me feel good and successful - forming a size acceptance support group," she declares.

Chin, who is currently living with her older brother, Alex, and his wife and children, says she is very close to her family. "My family means the most to me, and I will be there for them whenever they need me - just like they have been there for me all these years."

Chin's father, retired businessman Steven, and her homemaker mother Annie, are in England for an extended visit. Another brother, Eddie, will be moving to England soon, leaving Chin's sister, Jenny, back in Malaysia. "Being here in the U.K. makes me and my family geographically closer than we used to be back in Malaysia," Chin exclaims.

Before she moved, Chin lived in a Kuala Lumpur apartment, which she shared with her dog, "a four-year-old, adorable, shoe-biting, hairy Shih-Tzu," and hung out with a close circle of friends. "I know lots of people," Chin says, "but I only spend time with people who inspire me, challenge my thoughts and who are willing to share their knowledge with me - I value true friendship."

Saying, "I don't like the idea of going out every Friday and Saturday night just to be seen as cool," Chin would rather catch a movie. "I'm a real movie buff," she says. "I love drama, comedy and romantic comedy." Saying she finds cooking "very relaxing," Chin also enjoys reading, surfing the 'Net and web design. And, she adds, "Since I'm a woman, it's my right to totally love shopping!"

But her idea of a perfect day is "having a lazy afternoon around the house, pampering myself with a nice warm shower, face mask, doing my manicure and pedicure, and playing with my dog. Then, in the evening, cooking up a storm and inviting some close friends over for dinner and just sit and chat until dawn."

While in a few decades she would like to retire to her birthplace, Chin is too busy with her immediate future to give that much thought. "I seem to have found my calling, and that is forming a size acceptance group," she says. "I am game for it and am taking it one step at a time." For right now, Chin says, "I am fat and perfectly blessed." To which we say, Amen.

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