By Joanna Lee
WHEN BEAUTY QUEEN MEETS THE KING OF KINGS
Most Malaysians know Maggie Loo as the “catwalk queen” for her flamboyant catwalk twirls. Many may not know about her deep Christian faith and burning passion for Jesus that have taken off from the glamorous runway.
Maggie became a household name after winning the Miss Malaysia Universe crown in 1973, just four years after beginning her modeling career. Her flamboyant catwalk moves, diligence and self-discipline earned her a solid reputation that made her a much sought-after model. “After coming up top in a beauty contest, I became a top model. Being a beauty queen, you get chosen more often, so I took the challenge. I worked hard as I wanted to earn more,” Maggie said.
At the height of her career, she had groomed and produced more than 20 beauty queens – including Datuk Yasmin Yusuff and Nancie Foo – and trailblazed the Malaysian modeling scene with her modeling and grooming courses, creatively choreographed luncheon and tea fashion shows, and secured the franchise for the Super Model of the World pageant for Malaysia.
However, she felt empty.
“I thank God that He’s given me a lot of opportunities. I was popular. I’ve always worked hard and emerged as the best. I had fame. I had money. But I didn’t have a family yet. I wanted to have babies,” she shared.
THE TURNING POINT
“I come from a close-knitted family. My parents were Taoists. We were also strong in Kuan Yin worship because of my mom.
“My beloved sister Maxine Loo became a Christian and she tried to get everybody ‘saved’. So whenever she came, everyone would run for cover,” Maggie burst into laughter. However, Maggie saw something different in Maxine. “I saw God in her. She was such a transformed person.”
Her desire to fill that emptiness compelled her to follow Maxine to church. The year was 1995.
ENCOUNTERS WITH GOD
“God really touched me there. I was brought to the altar. I saw God already, through images. I fell when they prayed for me. And I saw His shadow lying on a rock. God was telling me that He was my rock,” Maggie’s voice broke with emotions as she recalled that experience.
“From there, I’ve never looked back,” she said, adding that she had encountered God many times since then. “He spoke through books, gave me many dreams and visions, even about the end times, and told me what He wanted me to do.”
In her early days at Tabernacle of Glory, when worship was a full-day affair, she used to ‘see’ a man dancing with a child in his arms. “I didn’t know much of God then, but I could feel that He is our Father,” Maggie said, tears rolling down her famous prominent cheeks. “Even to this day, I carry that image with me. I know God is real.”
As she grew in her faith, Maggie found herself relating to people differently. “Before knowing God, if anyone scolded us, we would scold back. We didn’t know that words had power. Last time, we would point at people first. Now, we will point at ourselves first and ask, ‘Lord, is it me?’.”
Another area of transformation is in her attitude towards wealth. When once she just wanted to earn more money, she now has a strong desire to train women, children and young people to become confident leaders in the Kingdom as a witness for the Lord.
Together with her inventor husband Lim Nam Aik, she runs Maggie Loo Models & Beauties Academy (ML-MBA), a modeling and personal development academy as a ministry.
Maggie believes that believers need to reflect God’s best in how they carry themselves with self-respect. “If you’re not groomed properly, and if you want to talk about God, do you think people will want to listen right away?” she asked.
Her grooming, deportment and personal development courses are aimed at women of all ages, shapes and sizes as well as at children, teenagers and young adults entering the workforce. “In the corporate world, a degree is not enough. Learn how to take care of yourself because then, when you talk, people will be willing to listen to you,” she stressed. “If you become a model or beauty queen, that’s just a bonus.”
Being in the modeling industry has its treacherous temptations and Maggie is one who has survived the pitfalls of this industry with self-discipline and healthy respect for herself. “When I was famous, I had a lot of offers from guys, you know what I mean,” she winked. “I thank God for my parents. My mother always said, ‘Always bring honour to your family’.”
With her mother’s words ringing in her ears, Maggie would turn down party invitations. In fact, she was known in her circle for her refusal to party around. And her father would faithfully wait for her to come home from work with his umbrella at the bus stop. “I didn’t accept invitations unless there’s a good purpose,” she said. She was also careful to dress to respect others as her strict mother frowned at see-through clothes. “As models, we’re the classy ones. But since knowing God, I’ve been even extra careful,” she said.
Her firm, no-nonsense approach has now spilled over to how she mentors her protégés, dismissing “breezes” (people who come and go) who are not teachable or truly committed to improving themselves.
OF BEAUTY AND PLASTIC SURGERIES
Having trained thousands of women in her 48 years’ experience, Maggie knows exactly how to spot a girl with the X-factor.
“If you want to be different, be original!” she exclaimed, her firm mentor demeanour coming alive through her husky voice. “You don’t need a high nose. Even with a flat nose, or dark skin, you can be beautiful,” she said. “Make-up is ‘make up’ if you cover yourself to disguise yourself. Why do that?” Now that she knows God, she implores women, instead, to bring out their unique essence.
“I tell my students, ‘What I want is YOU, your core heart!’ Just like how God wants us each to shine our personal uniqueness,” she pointed out.
What is beauty? “Beauty is when you’re remembered and leave an impact,” she was quick to respond.
Maggie has had many offers to have plastic surgeries done, some costing up to six figures. “I declined and told them, ‘My God has already made me beautiful’.”
Winnie Lee, Maggie’s protégé, a model scouted by Maggie at church and the one who connected Asian Beacon to Maggie, jumped in during the interview, “I believe if you get close to God more and more, your face will be radiating and shining no matter how old you are.” Winnie recalled spending days with elderly prayer warrior ladies who possessed a special, beautiful glow on their faces.
The interview has come to an end, and Maggie and Winnie obliged to a request for a demonstration of their catwalk routine. As Maggie twirled and turned, it became clear why she was known as the “Queen of the Catwalk” in her heyday. She still glides with elegance, precision and rhythm. Except that she now struts to a different beat. “You can catwalk in the best places like Milan, but it’s more important to walk and win the race for our God, the King of kings.”
Asian Beacon: Oct – Dec 2017 (Vol 49 #3, p22-23)