[EXCLUSIVE] “I Prioritize Myself”, Malaysian Actress Scha Elinnea On ‘Controversial’ Photos, Self Love & Dealing With Trolls
21-year-old actress Scha Elinnea made headlines recently – for something other than her acting. Whole articles were devoted to the fact that the Kedah-born actress had turned off the comment function on her Instagram. This follows her upload of a picture of herself in a bikini. These articles highlight the negativity and constant criticism that women get for what they choose to upload onto their social media – even more so when you’re considered a “public figure” with a significant following.
As a result, it’s not difficult to imagine the impact that the bashing, criticism and insults can take on one’s confidence. Imagine having to deal with the negative comments on the daily? For Scha Elinnia, the decision for what’s best for herself is a simple one – don’t give other people the option to flood your profile with negativity in the first place.
I don’t want negative vibes around me. I am for – strictly – positivity all the way. I want my Instagram to have a positive influence on society.”
What is self-love to you?
For me, self-love is when you are able to accept yourself for who you truly are – flaws, shortcomings – and when you can celebrate yourself – your beauty, your strengths and your achievements. In that way, you can be confident and comfortable in your own skin.
What questions do you ask yourself? The kind of questions that help you recognise what you want in life, in your career, in your relationships?
Every morning, I ask myself, “What should I improve on?”. Be it what I want to improve on as an individual, in my career or in my personal life and with my relationships. At the same time, when I wake up in the morning, I tell myself how amazing, beautiful and talented I am. This is an important step for me – for anyone, really – as it helps a lot in building self-confidence. If the first words you think and hear in the morning is how wonderful of a person you are, you’re bound to carry that wholesome, lovely and confident feeling with you throughout the day. Once I have that confidence, I feel as if nothing can stop me from doing what I want and achieving what I want in my life.
How different is it for you to find ways to love yourself while being a celebrity in Malaysia?
To be really honest, it is really, really difficult. It has always been a constant battle between myself and the public. Every decision that I choose to make will ultimately affect my image and the perspective that people have of me. Of course, as a result, I feel like I have less freedom and more pressure to conform as some individuals would feel a little bit apprehensive with my idea of self-love. At the same time, I need to be true to myself and prioritize myself to achieve true happiness. If I cannot be happy with myself, how am I going to live the next 60, 70 years with myself? So what I upload on Instagram is an extension of my real self. Just as people see me on Instagram, that’s how I am in real life. In this way, they won’t be surprised – or disappointed – if they see me on the streets.
Do you question your decision to post your pictures (especially the more revealing images) before you publish them? What is your thought process before you publish a more ‘daring’ image?
Unfortunately, I do end up questioning myself. I wish that I didn’t but I end up doing it because what I post is scrutinised on the daily. And it’s not so much the content or the caption that they focus on but more of what I’m wearing, how much makeup I have on, what pose I’m striking. While I do have supporters, I also have naysayers. It’s worse when they bring my family into it and relate my upbringing with how I carry myself and my lifestyle. Thankfully, my family and friends are the best in the world! They accept me for who I am and they will always have my back no matter what. So I look on the positive side – or as cliché as it sounds, the brighter side – instead of clinging onto negativity; I do what makes me happy and what I’m proud of.
Do you worry that posting revealing images may affect your job or public opinion of you?
I believe that today’s society can be very accepting and open-minded. Things are not as they were in the past. Therefore, I feel like posting revealing pictures should not be as much of a concern anymore.
Do the comments that ask you to ‘cover-up’, ‘change the way you are’, and curse you for being so revealing bother you? How do you deal with these comments?
Sometimes these comments can be really harsh and borderline mean. However, it doesn’t affect me as a human being much less as a” celebrity” because I don’t take their “opinions” to the heart. It’s different if the comments are constructive and come from a good place because many a time, netizens are simply looking for reasons to criticise and gain likes with their “witty” comments. And while I do read these comments, I ignore the ones that I know have no good intentions behind them and move on. At the end of the day being myself is a blessing; nothing and no one can change who I really am as long as I am happy with myself.
There are tonnes of articles with titles like “X gets bashed for posting a picture of themselves in a bikini” and “Y is slammed for having small boobs after posting revealing image”, but always about female celebrities who are simply comfortable in their own skin. Why do you think male celebrities don’t get the same treatment for what they wear and how they carry themselves?
Women have faced this kind of discrimination for so long – it’s really tiring and uncalled for. We are so often labelled as “weak” individuals that need to dress and act a certain way simply because of the gender we were born as. On the flip side, you have males who are labelled as the “dominant” and “strong” half of society (which is a problem in itself because that’s where toxic masculinity comes into play). Whether or not you are a man or a woman, there is no specific reason for why we cannot wear what we want, talk how we want to talk or act how we want to act. I believe it has been normalised in our culture where women are expected to be conservative and modest. However, we are changing to be more accepting and understanding as a collective community.
What is your advice to women who want to have the freedom to express themselves the way they want to?
Be whoever you want to be. Love yourself and accept yourself for who you really are. Nothing can stop you from being an amazing human being. We, women, are rising as a collective and group; we are ready to empower and inspire one another. And as a human being, it’s important to use our waking moments to empower all communities – avoid negativity, avoid comments that are not constructive and think twice before you share your “opinions” because sometimes what seems like the truth to you may be insulting and demeaning to someone else.