Malaysian Model Sparks Outrage for Calling a Size Medium ‘Sinful as Obesity’

Malaysian pianist and actress Cathryn Li Yuanling has sparked a discussion about body image on social media after posting an Instagram Story saying that any size above a medium is “sinful.”

In the Story posted to Cathryn’s now-deleted Instagram page, the 30-year-old artist encouraged some of her close followers to go down to a size XS/XXS, and called a medium and above “as sinful as obesity.”

Image via Facebook / Cathrynlyl


“Girls, if you’re wearing size 6/S, it means you’re M. M = Fat. In Asia, S means M, M means L, anything above M is as sinful as obesity. Try to drop down to size 4/XS. I’m size 2/XXS. If your size 6 above, pls, stop eating and move your ass to the gym already,” she wrote.

Besides tickling the ivories on a piano, performing ballet and dabbling in acting, Cathryn also says she loves to keep fit as she posts videos of her workout regimen on her social media accounts, according to Good Times.

While she inspires everyone to live their best lives, social media users were left dumbfounded by her recent Instagram Story, with many people calling her out for body shaming and sharing their own experience with weight.

Following the backlash, Cathryn took to the comments section to defend her Story. While she understands her “mistake,” she explained the current beauty standards of the modeling and fashion industry.

“It was actually meant for the girls in my close friend list who wanted to work in the modeling industry, which I accidentally posted it on public and was taken down 26 mins later after I realized it. I understand it was a terrible mistake, but its indeed what happening in the industry whether you like it or not cos the industry is not gonna accept all these ‘everyone is beautiful, every sizes are beautiful’ kinda theory, of course there are exceptional cases but the mainstream fashion market sill goes for the skinny girls,” she wrote.

Image via Facebook / Cathrynlyl

Cathryn went on to describe her own struggles and being fat-shamed.

“I’ve been a fat-shamed victim for 5 years to the point I couldn’t take it anymore, finally gave in myself to follow the skinny rules and here I am, getting more job opportunities than I ever had when I was size 6,” she continued.

Image via Facebook / Cathrynlyl

She further tried to justify her Story by saying it was all a “misunderstanding” and she only wanted to give some advice to her model friends trying to land a job.

“I honestly didn’t understand how size 6 considered fat in the industry, it’s cruel, saddening, but it is how it is, fashion industry is cruel, I’ve actually written a lot of complaints about how fashion industry is starving girls so they could get their dream jobs, it’s not changing anything, it’s not helping any of my friends model wannabe getting any jobs, so coming from my real life experience I think this piece of advice might carry some weight that could actually help my friends, I could be wrong but Its really up to them whether if they wanted to take it. Anyway, like I explained it earlier, my post was never meant for girls in general. It’s a misunderstanding, I sincerely apologize if you find it disturbing.”

The prevalence of negative body image continues to raise concerns for many young women, including U.K.-based body positivity activist and coach Michelle Elman, who has felt excluded from the fashion industry as a plus-size and Asian woman.


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There is something I’ve been wanting to get off my chest for a while. The U.K. plus size community exclude Asian women. It’s largely due to the fact that Asian women are always stereotyped as petite but plus Asian women exist, and we deserve to be represented. We are more so in America but in England it’s basically non existent. Go to most plus size brands’ Instagram and you won’t find a single Asian woman. Go to the plus size ranges of mainstream brands and again not a single plus Asian woman in their campaigns, on their website or even in the sponsored posts. Go to a plus-size event in London and it will likely be all white. Most white plus size influencers wouldn’t even be able to name a plus size Asian blogger or influencer in the U.K. Even when a white plus person talks about WOC, they continue to exclude Asian women from the conversation. The fact that I’m even using the term Asian women is ridiculous. Imagine a british person being asked to represent Germany. Chinese women are not interchangeable with Indian women for example. And we shouldn’t be asked to represent a whole continent, but to not represent an entire continent is worse. It shouldn’t be black women or Latinx women who work to change this – they are already marginalised, oppressed and discriminated against. It has to be white women. It’s your job to amplify the voices Asian women, and more broadly WOC. It’s your job to step down when agreeing to an all white panel. Same for an all white event or an all white blogger trip. You can’t call for diversity in terms of size and then claim to be colour-blind when it comes to race. Tag any U.K. Asian plus size pages below ⬇️ • Jacket: @shopmatalan (Gifted) Top: @asos_loves_curve Jeans: @simplybeuk

A post shared by Michelle Elman (@scarrednotscared) on

“The U.K. plus size community exclude Asian women. It’s largely due to the fact that Asian women are always stereotyped as petite but plus Asian women exist, and we deserve to be represented,” Elman said in an Instagram post in March.

Elman, who is half-Chinese, pointed out the rarity of images of Asian women on plus-size brand websites, campaigns or sponsored posts.

So she joined forces with photographer Linda Blacker in July to create a now-viral photoshoot featuring plus-size Asian women of all sizes and skin tones.


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PLUS SIZE ASIANS EXIST As you all know I’ve been talking about the absence of Asians in adverts, campaigns and fashion in general so @lindablacker and I decided to team up on a little passion project. Look at how incredible these women look! Here’s to showing them what they are missing 💪🏽 Despite the absence in the media, asian is actually the largest ethnic minority in the U.K. Asians deserve to be represented. Asians deserve to be seen. And all Asians aren’t the stereotype of being small and petite. Being Asian is not one look. Being Asian is not one culture. Whilst even this shoot isn’t perfect representation, it shows just a small sample of the diversity within Asia. #AsianRepresentation • Thank you to all the wonderful women taking part and being my stunning models @nesslala @bishamberdas @saalene @kat_v_henry @simksandhu95 • This was such a personal project and I couldn’t have done it without @lindablacker. She came up with the idea when I was talking about asian representation earlier in the year and I wouldn’t trust anyone else to do it. She has always placed diversity at the forefront of her shoots and her talent is remarkable. This entire concept was her doing and I’m so grateful for everything you did to make this a reality!• Thank you also to @umberghauri and @hannah.shaikhup for the incredible makeup! It felt so complete to have the makeup artists also be Asian. We need just as much diversity behind the scenes on shoots as well!

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“PLUS SIZE ASIANS EXIST,” Elman wrote in her caption. “Despite the absence in the media, asian is actually the largest ethnic minority in the U.K. Asians deserve to be represented. Asians deserve to be seen. And all Asians aren’t the stereotype of being small and petite.”

NextShark has reached out to Cathryn Li for comment and will update this post when we hear back.

Featured Images Facebook / Cathrynlyl

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