Recently, a bi-racial YouTube couple known as HaydenToNina was profusely cyberbullied by Malaysian netizens for their differences in physical appearance.
The situation started when an Instagram page reposted the couple’s wedding photos with the caption,
“Bila dia dah betul-betul cintakan awak, jarak, rupa, usia dan berat badan bukanlah menjadi masalah bagi dia.”
Roughly, this statement translates to, “When someone truly loves you, distance, looks, age and weight is no longer a problem.” While the sentence may seem innocuous at first glance, it actually fuelled statements by netizens who felt it was their right to comment on Nina’s physical appearance.
yg penting ikhlas 😃👍 pic.twitter.com/jHBboLZRyU
— fulamaks (@fshanaa1) June 25, 2020
From then on, the post, which they uploaded without the couple’s permission, went viral and caught the attention of many social media blogs. As the traffic began to grow, the comments started to get even more hurtful and invasive. It wasn’t long before these comments were found out by the couple.
Naturally, the newlyweds were far from pleased to see how their tale of love that focused on the hardships of distance and interracial acceptance had shifted into a story about how Nina was somehow undeserving of her husband, Hayden.
The obsession and pedestalisation of South Korean beauty standards is common among Malaysians due to the popularity of k-dramas and k-pop in our country. This has definitely contributed to the warped perceptions of beauty we have in Malaysia. To make things worse, Hayden is not even Korean, he’s a British-born Chinese.
Beauty standards are vastly different all across the world and it’s unfortunate that Malaysia needs to borrow its beauty standards from countries where the idea of beauty is a slim, fair-skinned person. The brainwashing of how only a certain archetype of beauty can be considered attractive is archaic and frankly unrealistic.
Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and to limit ourselves to just one mould would be an erasure of our culture and the intrinsic beauty that lies within it.
As a result of the tormenting online, Nina, who suffers from anxiety, began getting constant panic attacks. She told The Rakyat Post,
“When it first happened to me, I kept having panic attacks and was struggling to hold myself together. I knew that internet trolls exist, but I wasn’t ready for that amount of hate to be thrown at me when our content is clearly just for fun and just happy things.”
Their space, which was once bubbly and full of cheer, had now been encroached by those telling her to “lose weight in order to please her husband.” Some even acted as mind-readers, stating that they knew Hayden would fall deeper in love and be happier with Nina if she changed her appearance.
Here are some of the few cyberbullying comments that have been made about me and my husband since we got married.
Fatphobia is real, wake up people. pic.twitter.com/NWSVNvjPrZ
— HaydenToNina (@haydentonina) August 25, 2020
Love is not skin deep and most of us know this by watching films and reading books that teach us these moral values. Despite that, it is still rare for Malaysian women to see heroines that look like the everyday girl next door. In fact, women who are considered not conventionally attractive are often reduced to being the comedic relief or supporting sidekick.
I am sick of these captions made using our photos. pic.twitter.com/8VZ1YUBIyl
— HaydenToNina (@haydentonina) August 23, 2020
Nina addressed her discontent and disappointment towards Malaysian netizens through a series of tweets and videos. She revealed that her mental health declined substantially over the past few months and that she even started going to therapy because of it.
It seems that Malaysians still have a long way to go when it comes to empathy. While HaydenToNina’s case of cyberbullying is horrible and unwarranted on its own, there are many other cases where Malaysians have taken it way too far.
The subject of one’s appearance, mental health and lifestyle is not open for public debate. The art of minding one’s own business has apparently been lost and it’s time to regain a sense of self-awareness when it comes to giving out our opinions online.