It seems like every year, like clockwork, Malaysia has to confront its issues with colourism and blackface.
For the uninitiated, last year, a local TV show garnered massive backlash with their remake of Dayang Senandong, the same folklore that got Watson’s in trouble several years prior. The situation was so explosive that there were even petitions to cancel the programme.
In 2019, a local make-up artist suffered from heat when she posted several make-up looks with the hashtag #MakeupDarkSkinChallenge which promoted blackface.
Now, in 2021, the same issue is present again in a recent music video published by Malaysian singer, Haoren.
This video, which is also in partnership with whitening supplement brand D’Glivz, features a “tanned” high-school girl getting bullied for her skin tone.
However, once she ingests the supplement, which miraculously lightens her skin to a pale colour, she immediately starts getting love letters and admiration from her peers.
Take a look:
View this post on Instagram
Since the whole music video is in Mandarin (with no translations for us bananas), let me breakdown the plot (with the help of my Chinese friend whom I am now obliged to belanja makan):
Our female protagonist gets bullied in school and receives this note which roughly translates to, “You are so black, does your mother know?”
As a result of getting bullied, her secret admirer (the singer, Haoren), gifts her supplements that will lighten her skin. The notes translate to, “Eat this and you will be white!”
She enters into a relationship with one of the guys, without knowing that it was actually Haoren who gifted her the supplements. Later on, she confronts her boyfriend because she stopped receiving the supplements, hence her darker complexion returning.
She eventually finds out that Haoren was the admirer all along. He says to her, “You’ve been bullied by the sun again. Haven’t you been taking the supplements I gave you everyday?”
They then live happily ever after, consuming their colourist supplements.
In case you were wondering what the lyrics mean, here’s the translation for you:
So, there you have it.
Colourism, which is discrimination based on skin tone, still remains rampant in Malaysia. This is unacceptable since our country is a melting pot of different cultures and heritage.
When races who have darker skin tones suffer from racial profiling and mass incarceration, exploiting that in order to promote a supplement by painting a fair-skinned person’s face darker is just tone-deaf. Especially in 2021, where many major brands have received backlash in the past for doing this, it’s baffling how this issue keeps resurfacing.
Thankfully, as consumers, we have power over these brands and by making our voices heard, we can prevent this from happening again.
Keep holding these people accountable for their actions.