This article is written by Cheong Jane-Menn
If anything is more of a social media fire starter than anything it’s an insensitive statement put up on Facebook. If you’ve been living under a rock, let us be the ones to educate.
Recently, Zaihani M Zain aka Kak Zai, made a body-shaming statement that translated from Malay saying, “If you weigh above 60kg, don’t bother coming to fashion shows because your thighs will ‘overflow’ to the next person’s seat. It’s so awkward and uncomfortable for the persons seated next to you”. You’d think that in this day and age, people would be more educated about what they put up on social media. This however, is not the first time the fashion critic has made such a statement. Back in 2016, the fashion veteran made a statement in luxury upper class magazine, Malaysia Tatler about how people interested in fashion should watch their weight in relation to how high fashion brands do not cater to plus –sized individuals.
“If you love fashion and enjoy dressing up, then there are sacrifices to be made. Watch your weight. 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?”
In light of the situation however, this was brought to the attention of people who have been posting body positive pictures on Instagram with the hashtag #PehaMelimpah. This included big names in the Malaysian fashion scene who had expressed their loss of respect for Kak Zai. Nalisa Alia Amin, writer and body positivity activist also posted a picture of herself on Instagram with the caption, “Do my thighs bother you ma’am? #PehaMelimpah”.
After the fire however, Kak Zai did release an apology stating that her comments were merely about the issue of “manspreading” at fashion shows, something she has struggled with throughout her career. The apology however was one that was weak and seem to deflect from her initial statement. She also mentioned that she only used the 60kg as an analogy and would never mean to body shame anyone as she has friends who are plus-sized.
The situation has definitely put body shaming in the spotlight amongst Malaysians and allowed for education of the masses. Fashion has always been a source of body shaming and fat shaming issues from the lack of inclusivity in the industry. Though it has made progress in recent years, it cannot be denied that we still have a long way to go.