Malaysian Cosmetic Brand Under Fire for Using the Same Model to Portray Different Women of Color


A Malaysian cosmetic brand was put on blast online after it released a short video using one model to portray other women of color for its new foundation line.

C. Code Cosmetics was called out for its ad, according to Coconuts Kuala Lumpur. In addition to the cosmetic brand, Twitter user @Roshinee_M also called out retail chain Watsons Malaysia for sharing the 39-second clip.

The Twitter user explained the cosmetic brand’s ad showcases a model in three shades starting from “light beige” to “sand.” She wore different ethnic clothes to portray a Chinese, Malay and Indian woman, all while lip-syncing to the revised version of “Saya Anak Malaysia” (“I Am a Child of Malaysia”).

@Roshinee_M, who is of Indian descent, spoke of the misrepresentation of her culture and the lack of diversity.

Stating that it was “clear” that the brand didn’t have any Indian people on set, she explained, “No Indian girl is wearing a flower garland casually like that. Sebenarnya, we often use those smaller gardlands to adorn the pictures/statues of Hindu gods.”

In addition to the outfit, the model also put her hands together and moved her head sideways.

“I guess you just relied on what your idea of being Indian is – and reproduced that. It is unfortunate but not surprising that such a forced muhibah video concept regurgitated such a stereotypical and flawed view of Indians,” she said. “The head/hand shaking was duly acknowledged too.”

The Twitter user then called out the company for choosing to go with one model instead of approaching an Indian woman.

After her post became viral, Watsons Malaysia reached out to @Roshinee_M to apologize.

The retail chain later had a spokesperson contact @Roshinee_M who said that after being made aware of the issue, will take future steps to “do better” and “be better educated on these issues moving forward.”

Both the retail chain and cosmetic company have since removed the video, which has been viewed over 100,000 times in two days. Other Twitter users were able to track down and record the original ad.

Featured Image Screenshots via @Roshinee_M (left), @AinaSbrina (center, right)

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