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PETALING JAYA, Feb 17 — Malaysian actress and entrepreneur Syatilla Melvin has been slammed for using blackface to promote a new foundation line.
In a now-deleted TikTok video, the 30-year-old wore a hoodie with her face painted black before she “transformed” into her fair-skinned appearance a few seconds later.
The caption in the video seemed to imply that the change in skin tone was the result of using Syatilla’s new foundation.
The song I’m So Pretty and He Like That by King Manyara featuring Reyanna was used as background music in the clip.
Video producer Nandini Balakrishnan, known as an outspoken activist against colourism and racism in Malaysia, called out Syatilla’s antics and reposted the video to her TikTok and Twitter accounts.
“If you want to sell foundation, there are many ways to market it. You don’t have to resort to blackface.
“You should know there are people out there who don’t use foundation to lighten their skin,” wrote Nandini.
Kalau setakat nak jual foundation banyak ways to market kak oiiiii. Takyah lah blackface.
And orang pakai foundation bukan untuk jadi fair tau. 🤗 pic.twitter.com/QdqVloOWoh
— Nandini Balakrishnan (@Nandinibundini) February 16, 2021
Many users labelled Syatilla’s marketing tactic as “idiotic”, “unethical”, and “cheap”, especially in an age where many makeup lines, such as Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty, have expanded their foundation shade range to include darker skin tones.
ce is a racist form of theatrical makeup that became popular during minstrel shows in the United States back in the mid-19th century.
White actors would lampoon enslaved Africans by painting their faces black and enacting negative stereotypes of Black people, but the makeup quickly declined in popularity as the American civil rights movement gained steam.
In Asia, blackface is also used in the media as a method to highlight beauty standards that prize fairness over dark skin.
Many Malaysians have slammed these antiquated ideals but the criticism seems to have fallen on deaf ears as blackface continues to be a fixture in the local entertainment industry.
Klang-born singer Haoren starred alongside an actress wearing brownface in his music video White Doll last month, which also included a promotion of a skin whitening product.
The 2020 drama Dayang Senandung, based on a folktale about a princess cursed with dark skin at birth, featured actress Wani Kayrie wearing blackface to play the titular role.
Watsons Malaysia also took inspiration from the same folktale for their infamous Hari Raya advertisement in 2017 which starred actress Ruhainies in blackface makeup.