This Malaysia Day, Fatin Afeefa & Karen Kho is Celebrating Female Empowerment with hoolah

In a nutshell, 2020 has been nuts (metamorphically-speaking, of course). With our travel plans redlined and work hankered down in our own abodes, the coronavirus pandemic has left us with much to be desired. While it is unlikely that life would return to the way it once was, a silver lining beckons in the midst. Malaysia Day

As a writer whose job involves documenting people’s lives and their anecdotes, I am constantly reminded of how an individual’s personal stories would eventually culminate into a larger national narrative. While the pandemic may have shifted the lens which we see things from, the narrative is nonetheless a coherent masterpiece that illuminates the triumphs and tribulations. In Malaysia, we see the national narrative solidify with its chosen theme for National and Malaysia Day this year. Entitled “Malaysia Prihatin” (Malaysia Cares), the nation has taken into account the present circumstance and recognises the resilient Malaysian spirit ignited amid the pandemic.

The theme, according to the Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, was chosen to tip hats at “the caring, determined and patient nature of Malaysians in facing the trials and tribulations posed by COVID-19 pandemic”.

Malaysia Day

As hoolah reels in to celebrate Malaysia Day on 16 September 2020, I interviewed four Malaysian influencers, an all-female cast of young and dearly individuals—namely Fatin Afeefa, Nurin Afiqah, Charis Chow and Karen Kho. As with all interviews, plenty of interesting stuff wound up on the cutting board. And as I spoke to each of them through email correspondence, we swept through many themes and questions. From their favourite Malaysian cuisine to the meaning of family, I find myself always getting anchored by and returning to their tales of independence and female empowerment.

Related Article: This Malaysia Day, Nurin Afiqah & Charis Ow Share The Low-Down of Their Lives with hoolah

In the second of two series, we look into the lives of acclaimed Malaysian actress Fatin Afeefa and fitness enthusiast and instructor Karen Kho who shared with us their struggles with the recent Malaysia’s Movement Order (MCO) and more.

Fatin Afeefa (@fatinafeefa)

Malaysia Day
Malaysia Day with Fatin Afeefa
Outfit: Fashion Valet
Shoes: Melissa
Eyewear: Focuspoint (Raybans)
Cosmetics: Nita Cosmetics

The 26-year-old actress needs little introduction. Fatin Afeefa began her career in showbiz as a child actress and to date, she has several interesting films and dramas, including “Kekasih Paksa Rela” (2017), the K-drama adaptation of “Two Women’s Room” called “Monalisa” (2019), “Asalkan Dia Bahagia” (2019), and recently “The Gadis” (2020), logged in her portfolio to boot.

The actress has amassed a whopping following on social media: 1.4 million Instagram followers at the time of writing. And it comes as no surprise. For after all, she is everything a personality ought to be: charismatic, pretty and wholly unpretentious. Quite frequently, Fatin can be seen sporting gorgeous brown curls, her brows are as impeccable as always and are framed above her almond-shaped eyes, while her discerning facial structure is softened against her pouty lips. The actress is often spotted casually posing with her cat, her children and with herself in flawless (and at times, witty) selfies.

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u pergi mana tadi? kenapa reject call?

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In reality, the actress is known to be forthright on doing the right things. She was reported to have spoken out against those who flout home quarantine orders at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. “Do they think they are invincible,” she had reportedly said back in July 2020.

In a short interview with hoolah, Fatin shares with us what it means to be a woman today and the experience from MCO.

1. How has the MCO affected your daily life?

MCO did affect me but not in a bad way. I still get to work from home. Plus, i love being at home. But the only thing I miss is spending time with my close friends and family.

2. On the topic of female empowerment, what does it mean to be a female today?

Being a female today means being a warrior for change. It means being whoever you want to be, and letting others do the same.

3. What does family mean to you?

One single word—Everything!

4. How are you going to spend Malaysia Day?

I’m actually working on Malaysia Day 😅

5. What does independence mean to you?

Independence for me is all about freedom. Freedom that satisfies your desire to become a stronger person and yet, it still does not separate us from our values

Karen Kho (@karenkh0)

Malaysia Day
Malaysia Day with Karen Kho
Outfit: XIXILI Intimates
Eyewear: Fashion Valet

For the uninitiated, Karen Kho is a lifestyle blogger and certified fitness instructor who creates content in the realm of fitness, food and travel. The fitness enthusiast can be seen sharing snippets of her time at the gym with her friends (or by herself) on Instagram Stories as well as occasionally posting workout tips on her Instagram. While the bulk of her image gallery on Instagram is reserved for her wanderlust ventures, which by now has ceased due to the pandemic, her adventurous and gritty personalities are nevertheless omnipresent.

At a time when many gyms and fitness stations across the globe are forced to close and when many are hunkering down at home with few ways to keep fit, the presence of online personalities, like Karen, that encourage people to stay physically active are a dime a dozen. Many of them provide free fitness workouts that are delightfully low-tech, cater to the masses and can be done “comfortably” at home.

While Karen does not post informative workout videos of any sorts, she compensates by providing detailed instructions on some of her Instagram posts and write articles to educate to the masses. A huge part of why she continues to do this is pretty much in line with what the collective fitness community of today advocate—that is to promote both physical and mental health during the pandemic. Or as Naomi Campbell’s personal trainer, Joe Holder, says in an interview with The New York Times, “Moving the body and physical fitness get your blood flowing to help your lymph system, and that creates a beneficial response in your immune system. But you’re also disengaging from an anxious state, and that anxiety has a huge impact on mental health and your immune system.”   

 In an interview with hoolah, Karen shares what fitness and indepndence means to her.

1. How has the MCO affected your daily life?

MCO has affected my life in many ways. It made me realise that life is not just about chasing things. It also gave me an opportunity to reflect about life, and finally living in the moment.

During the MCO, I learnt to manage my daily schedule and be discipline on completing my daily tasks (even while I’m at home).

2. On the topic of female empowerment, what does it mean to be a female today?

To be independent and create positivity that empowers one another.  

3. You are quite the foodie too. What’s your favourite Malaysian food? And how frequently do you indulge?

I love most Malaysian food. But my favourite would be Nasi Lemak. I do enjoy eating spicy food 😛 I would probably have it once a month and it does largely depend on what other food I crave for to.

4. What does fitness mean to you?

Fitness is a lifestyle, not a short-term goal. Being healthy shouldn’t be just a trend to follow; it should be a lifestyle that requires constant maintenance.  

5. How are you going to spend Malaysia Day?

I’m going to spend time with my family as I’ve been busy with work lately.

6. What does independence mean to you?

Independence means making your own decision and taking responsibility of your choices.

Ler Jun

Full-time storyteller. Avid coffee-drinker.

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