If you’re Malaysian, chances of you not knowing Yuna is slim to none — and as Muhammad Ali once said, slim has just left town. I remember seeing a post of hers addressing her younger audience who had scrutinised her for her decision to live abroad for (what they assumed to be) “too long” and implied that she had “forgotten her roots” by doing so. It resonated with me until this point in my life because I felt for her. She shouldn’t need to have to explain her choices, however seeing as she has an incredible influence over her followers, it was the appropriate thing to do as it would hopefully shift their perspective. I went back to look for that post but ended up scrolling down what seemed like 8000 grids to find it — turns out it was uploaded in 2015! — and had many moments of “Why does this post make me feel like crying?” and “She handled this situation with so much grace!” So naturally, here’s an apropos listicle of some of Yuna’s #YASSSSSQUEEN-worthy moments on Instagram for your viewing pleasure.
(And to justify to my Editor as to why I spent an entire afternoon unintentionally stalking the pop singer).
Here we go:
That time she had to host a class on
‘How to Leave Respectful Comments on Instagram’:
Learn to accept a person for their soul. Here’s me in my favourite outfit. The outfit that resembles my character and identity the best. I came a long way from my teenage days of wearing mini skirts, shorts, sleeveless having pink hair, short pixie cut, to finally, an image that Alhamdulillah, I am 100% happy with. When you want to leave a comment about someones dressing. Think. What journey this person had gone on. Yes, tak semua sama tapi the one that I was on, I bersyukur i turn out to be the person that I am today because if not, I would still be lost and confused and out there still figuring out who I really am. So if you want to judge or compare or say you like the old me, or you like me in a certain style and this style is horrible to you, you have no idea what youre saying. Because you do not know me. You do not know where I have been. This is who I am today, inshaAllah tomorrow I will be better, I never stop trying to be better. I am just a normal person like you. I dress up. I pray just like you. I live a life obeying (sometimes breaking) the rules just like you and I am not perfect just like you. And i dont pretend to be perfect. But I am respectful. And please be respectful and mindful when you leave comments without hurting my feelings. (Ps: Are we really still talking about shawl or turban? Come on people. We all have better things to do! I wear both! Deal with it!) Photo by : @zeldashatif
When she made a joke but people
processed it differently and left mean comments,
so she responded to it as diplomatically as she possibly
She appeared on The Coveteur. That is all:
When she hosted her second class on
‘How to Leave Respectful Comments on Instagram’,
only this time she was more assertive.
A lil throwback photo. Also. Save your ‘Im-only-saying-this-coz-I-love-you BUT..’ comments I don’t need it. Just read. And read till the end. I wonder if I should ever respond to comments about the way I dress or how my sleeves are too short, my neck is showing etc. Honestly Im not the type to show disrespect & react to these comments but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a brain or self-worth to stand up for myself. For you (no matter what age- 15, 25, 35,50) to come to my space, look at my photos and leave comments like ‘what a shame, you don’t stand for what you used to be’ is awfully rude and ignorant. You don’t even know me! Yea I don’t take selfies of myself praying in a ‘telekung’ on Instagram like your beloved artists but do I have to do that to show that I am an incredible person up to your religious/moral standards? Where I’m at at this very moment, I’m probably the only person I know who have excessive layers of clothes on and when people ask why, I tell them ‘I’m Muslim’ with a huge smile on my face. I get looks & more questions, like ‘aren’t you hot in that?!’ Or even serious questions concerning Islam & I am always prepared to enlighten people the beauty of my faith and why modesty matters to me. You may think its easy to do, but I had to build that confidence and gather an insane amount of courage to do it alone in America, to be able to answer questions when they are asked. That’s more than what you are doing, telling someone to be ashamed of herself on Instagram! Seriously,the world is more than just about my wrist showing or my neck is showing. I don’t have a perfect Muslim image but I would do ANYTHING for my parents. I’d give anything to help children in poverty stricken countries so save your clothing preaches to your family members & friends you know them better than you will ever know about me. Take a moment & think about this before you say anything else- While you’re so busy complaining about the way I dress, I’m on this side of the world, busy telling people who don’t understand what we are that we are NOT terrorists or murderers. So decide what kind of mentality you want to have, coz we have bigger problems, man. #thoughts
When she asked her followers to be smart consumers
and to create personal identities
instead of replicating what they see:
I’m gonna go on a bit of a rant (not really a rant it is something important) but I feel like a lot of us don’t know how to value the quality of products we buy. When you look at a product with great quality or handmade and say things like ‘WHY SO EXPENSIVE!’ Or ‘I can buy this at the mall’.. Are you listening to yourself? Be a smart consumer, I hate to see people line up like crazy to buy clothes made from cheap materials that costs a bomb just coz ‘all your friends’ are doing it and yall just look the same in the end. Why not stand out? Why not invest your money into something that YOU decide for yourself, into quality, into identity, into love? I’ve nothing against clothing stores that provide affordable style but when you complain about price, you can’t compare artisan products to things you can get at forever21. Things that are mass produced. They are different. And then, you can’t complain about a company that sells good clothes like Uniqlo being expensive coz I’ve seen my friend work really hard flying in and out of Japan looking for materials that will work for YOU and YOUR comfort, and these people actually care about their products and what goes on to your body. Same thing goes to artisan products, they are intricately made, with heart and soul. These people make these things BEAUTIFUL so YOU will feel beautiful and whatever price you see on these products, keep in mind you are paying for fair trade, most of it goes back to the workers who hand painted these things. I guess it’s fine to shop at cheap stores (provided the clothes are NOT coming from a sweatshop- workplace that has socially unacceptable working conditions, where factory workers are underpaid), they are there for a reason, to cater to your style whenever you need it, but when you stumble upon something special,handmade with great quality, don’t make ignorant comments. I mean, don’t be a cheapskate. Know where your money is going. When you look at the product, look at the price, look at where it’s coming from, who designed it, look around you who’s wearing them, look at the material how it makes you FEEL. Be a thinker. It’s time to be smart and unique. #generationsmart
Yuna loves fried chicken. We love fried chicken.
We are practically the same person!
Another lesson of ‘How to Leave Respectful Comments on Instagram’.
We s2g (that’s ‘swear to God for y’all who aren’t up to date on internet slang)
if she has to host another one of these classes this year,
somebody best donate dictionaries to these users that just
don’t seem to get the picture or in this case, the definition:
Good morning! Just a little thought. I can’t stand kids these days who are 12, 15, 18 going on social media and saying rude, disrespectful stuff. If I find any of that on my Instagram, I’ll probably call you out.. being too young to know manners is not an excuse- coz when I was 12, I knew better than to be disrespectful to people who are older than me. It’s called having manners, sweetheart, it will get you far in life.✋ SMH I feel like schools should have like social media classes to teach kids about practicing moral values on the Internet, I feel bad for the younger generation who are going through this by themselves, cyber bullying and thinking they should do it too coz it’s cool. I mean, it was hard enough for me when I was a teenager trying to survive the REAL world before any of these things existed.. Now they gotta worry about living in the Internet world too? 📷 @natann37
ANOTHER class on
‘How to Leave Respectful Comments on Instagram’ and also
the post that was referred to in the introduction:
Assalamualaikum. A message to my younger fans from home (whether you’re home or abroad). Please travel. Get out of your comfort zone. Go see the world. Then come home BRILLIANT. Belajar sampai tahap MAKSIMUM & belajar luar negara or bila dah kerja, save duit, pegi travel. When I see someone who’s 21 years old(I’m 28) telling me to ‘balik la Malaysia’ so I don’t forget my roots I feel very sad and worried. Because (1) he is 21 (2) he commented on a hiking photo (3) what kind of people does he surround himself with who doesn’t encourage him to LEARN but encourages him to offend (telling me to be ashamed of myself)?? My goodness, is this the future of Malaysia? A buncha haters who type really fast on smartphones? NOT in my presence. I share a photo of myself (bukan pakai bikini eh.. Fully clothed eh!) climbing a hill with a beautiful view yang ALLAH SWT cipta (God created) and you tell me to come home because I’m forgetting my roots? You have to be out of your damn mind. Alhamdulillah I get to travel & meet people and I think about how lucky I am to be a Malaysian muslim & spread positive vibes to those who need it regardless of their race & religion! I’m blessed to be able to learn so much about life, God’s green earth & Islam more than I did back home (I credit all my knowledge on Islam to my wonderful parents who encouraged me to THINK and then PRACTICE) I learn how to appreciate differences that GOD Himself created and that enabled me to have friends from ALL walks of life. So this is going to be the last time I’m writing this kind of post. If you’re reading this and you think I’m ‘lost’ I feel very sorry for you & your arrogance & ignorance. If you want to stay narrow minded, Yuna Zarai is not for you. Saya tak suka orang yang tak reti reti nak appreciate orang negara sendiri and tak abis abis rasa mcm dia hamba paling hebat dan perfect dalam dunia. Sudah lah tu nak condemn orang atas nama agama. We need positive vibes now, more than ever. Kita semua SAMA tak ada hamba class A, class B, class C.. All on our journey to becoming a great person. Ucap je lah benda yang baik baik saja sesama sendiri. Cmon guys, we are better than this. #generationsmart 🇲🇾
When she encouraged personal growth
and for people to go beyond their comfort zones:
Travel if you have the opportunity. Because only traveling can diminish your ego and ‘bodoh sombong’ tendencies. You may be the most stubborn person you’ve ever known, and you might just want to believe that whatever you’ve learned in your cave is enough to take you through your whole life, but traveling will hit you hard until you will have no choice but to acknowledge the fact that the world is indeed bigger than what you are, and that you were wrong about some things this whole time. Only traveling will get you to respect the universe (and the people of different color and culture and religion) in order for them to do same to YOU. Why stay the same when you can be better. Another #turkiye throwback. Lara Croft-ing this site with my sidekick cat. #ephesus #yunatravels
When she shared what she went through in her 20s
and how it made her the woman she is today:
This is late but happy international women’s day everyone. I intended to post something but I was busy working on more music! ❤️ My biggest struggle becoming the woman that I am today, was spending my entire 20s trying to please people, have strangers, men and women tell me everything that is wrong with me, lol telling me to literally go to hell and belittling me on my social media comments because I’m a woman, with a turban on my head, not as ‘pious’ as they think they are and that I should do things the way they think is right. I’m different, and sometimes people, uneducated people think punishing others for being different is right. You are you. Be you my sweet woman. Don’t let anybody take the softness in your heart, the light in your eyes, and your magic! I made a decision to be me. So much I’ve gone through in life (if you followed my career from Malaysia.. You KNOW I’ve gone through a lot!) but it was all worth it if all of you are learning something from just watching me become this woman that you see now. So ladies.. Get in formation. ☝🏽️ its women’s day everyday. #yunachapters #iwd2016
When she found herself again after overcoming
a rough time in her life:
Are you here to waste time with me? I spent the last 2 years just getting to know myself, loving the good and the bad, fighting my inner demons, appreciating the softness that I still had in my heart despite the world’s attempt to take that away from me. When you lose something or someone, you start to believe that in some way, you lost value. A huge chunk of you is gone. And you don’t know where to go with whatever that is left of you. There is darkness, but when you keep on walking, you will soon see colours. CHAPTERS is a bittersweet story of lost and found, and letting go, and at the end of it all, I found myself. And.. Im pretty awesome. 😘 May 20th. #yunachapters
How she overcame dealing with sexist and racist comments:
Throwback from when I was on Barney’s campaign 2014 celebrating cultural differences, shot by Bruce Weber. I remember when this first came out I was so scared of posting it because I knew the extremely rude conservative Malays (mind you I’m conservative too) would attack me for revealing my neck. Honestly. At this moment I was comfortable. The stylists from Barney’s were kind and respectful of my beliefs and let me wear this beautiful shirt dress. I get to pose with this lovely Punjabi couple along with a fellow half Malaysian model who later became my friend. People ask me what ethnicity I am I tell them I am Malay. Why can’t you wear a short dress? I tell them I am Muslim. Someone once told me my experience is mine. No one else is living it. No one has lived it. Outsiders have the illusion that they can tell you how to live your life because- they have lived theirs letting OTHER people tell them how to live. My father always told me ‘You make your own decision. You can think. Why do you have to listen to other people?’ Isn’t it weird, the biggest racism and discrimination that I’ve ever faced, was never from the Americans- it was from my own race. There I’ve said it. They call me ‘perempuan sampah’ and tell me to ”might as well go naked’. The worst, hurtful & sexist things I’ve ever had thrown to me, were from the lips of the Malays. All I can do is be patient. Allah is great. And Alhamdulillah for everything. So this is me. I will wear whatever I want. I will show my appreciation whether it’s a handshake, or a hug, to my friends, this is me. Save your mediocre downgrading religious preach to yourself, they have no meaning to me. I have some Americans telling me to take my hijab off, and I tell them no. I have some Malays tell me to take my hijab off because ‘from wearing a turban might as well take off your hijab’, I tell them no too. I am me. Tada! Expect more candidness from your fun, happy, Yuna. May it inspire you to be yourself too without letting the toxic people around you define you or how you should be. No regrets, no hard feelings I will continue to empower women and men everywhere as long as I live inshaAllah. Lepas ni.. no filter! Yay!!
A post shared by Yuna (@yunamusic) on
When she empowered people by reminding them that
it’s going to be alright:
Dear girls. Im here to tell you that no matter what happens.. keep moving forward. 1. Try to enjoy the journey. 2. The right one will come and finally treat you with respect, only when you learn how to respect yourself. 3. Don’t sacrifice your dreams, education or career for boys. Lol! 4. Don’t make the same mistake twice. Learn from it. 5. Be independent. 6. Say alhamdulillah. Be grateful. You will realize how lucky you are when you count your blessings! 7. Just a couple more steps.. you’re on your way to becoming a woman. Here’s to us! Sending you a lot of love and positive vibes. -Y Photo by @joachimmuellerruchholtz for @instylemagazine Styled by @alipew
Follow Yuna on Instagram here.