#PehaMelimpah & Why Toxic Role Models Are Over

Over the past couple of days, a revered Malaysian fashion critic caused quite a storm when she suggested that people over 60kgs should not attend cat walk events as it makes others like herself feel “awkward and uncomfortable” when seated next to thiccies. Her comment basically sent everyone into a frenzy, calling the celebrity image consultant and stylist out for body-shaming. Like, everyone. The issue’s gotten so much fire from the internet that even The Telegraph and several International news outlets picked it up.

The stylist has since taken down her post and apologised, saying that she wasn’t directing her comment to anyone in particular, as she was merely sharing her uncomfortable experience at a recent fashion event where she was seated next to a fairly large man who had apparently not left enough room for her petite figure. Not the apology everyone was hoping for, but it feels like it’s the best one we’re going to get.

Back-handed apology aside, this isn’t the first time she’s expressed her thoughts on  people who are bigger in size. In a 2016 interview with Malaysia Tatler, she coyly mentioned that size does matter if you love fashion and dressing up. “People may say size doesn’t matter but who are we kidding? It does! Why do you think the big fashion houses do not cater to plus sized women?”

I mean, tell that to the likes of Ashley Graham and Paloma Elsesser. Tell that to Anna Wintour (who was notorious for hating on fat people) and Andre Leon Talley who both agree that fat-shaming is cancelled and that fashion is for everyone. Tell that to everyone who had a hard time getting out of bed this morning because God forbid, someone looks you up and down just because you don’t fit their idea of “normal”.

As the fashion world and everyone involved strive to be more inclusive everyday, it’s sad to see that the Malaysian fashion industry is still in the process of coming to terms with diversity. If it isn’t bad enough that there aren’t enough options for plus-sized figures, it’s been made worse when a role model for many speaks unkindly of larger sized people, just because someone’s thighs made her feel uncomfortable that one time.

Though body-shaming has always been a deeply rooted issue within our society in particular, I’ve got to say that I had expected better from one of the industry’s role models. Role models are meant to empower and inspire. Undermining anyone for not fitting into a certain mould can send the wrong message to anyone, especially impressionable young people. You’d think someone who’s constantly in the public eye would know that, but you and I both know that that hasn’t been the case with a lot of so called “role models”.

annysa art by yante ismail
Illustration: An-Nyssa Art by Yante Ismail

It’s devastating when we come to the realisation that our role models aren’t humble enough to try and relate with us on a humane level. Yes, body-shaming has always been a deeply rooted issue within our social construct. As a big girl, I’ve had my fair share of body-shaming nuances headed my way and I’m sure you’ve experienced them too. But it warms the heart when you see beloved designers like Adila Long, Tom Abang Saufi and Calvin Thoo take a stand against body-shaming, making it clear that fashion is for everyone and it’s up to the creative minds of the industry to ensure just that.

With everyone coming together taking a stand for inclusivity, I can’t help but gleam at the thought that maybe we’re ready to make way for not only the fashionable and creative, but also the fresh and tolerant, the ones who believe that kindness is never out of style. Maybe it’s about time that we stop tolerating the toxicity of our role models and choose our idols wisely before enabling them to inspire us further. Maybe we’re ready for new role models.

tenor jonathan

Until then, I hope you attend that fashion show if you feel like it and sit anywhere you want, henny. I’ll always be happy to sit next to you if a meanie gives you grief about your #PehaMelimpah.

 

Psst, follow me on Instagram at @nadardin!


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