Today marks the day that ex-Playboy bunny Felixia Yeap officially embraces Islam. While the news initially spurred mixed reactions from the Muslim as well as the non-Muslim community, with some labelling it as a “publicity stunt”, the 28-year-old former model is adamant that her decision was made with pure and good intentions.
Of Decent Beginnings
Believe it or not, she wasn’t always the sex symbol that people are still criticising her for being. Felixia was a kindergarten teacher before she started her career in modelling in 2005. Her first exposure to the scene was when she entered the Dewi Remaja contest organised by a magazine and became one of its finalists. This achievement was soon followed by her entries into many other beauty pageants, including:
- Miss Chinese World Malaysia (2006)
- Miss Malaysia Tourism (2007)
- Miss Malaysia World (2009)
- Miss Universe Malaysia (2010)
At the peak of her career, she was invited to be a Playboy bunny and worked as its club in Macau. Her short stint in the Playboy club is still earning her negative comments until today but she said, “There was no intention of working there for a long time. Yes, it was fun and I learnt many things but modelling is where my heart is, not working at the club”.
Felixia was only there for a month before she decided to return home.
A “By Chance” Hijab Experience
According to this interview, Felixia had always wanted to wear the hijab, she has always loved the baju kurung, and was intrigued by the Malay-Muslim traditions.
Last year, she fell in love with the hijab after she was offered to parade in the hijab for a Celcom television commercial casting for the Hari Raya celebration. “It was a blue hijab and I fell in love with it. Then, I had another chance to wear the hijab again when I was hired as a model for a Muslim boutique in a fashion show during the Hari Raya season,” she said.
Even that was heavily criticised with people saying that she should’ve removed the pictures of her in a Playboy bunny outfit and also others which showed her in sexy poses and revealing attire before she donned the hijab.
The Cover Up
After her first experience with the hijab, she was clearer than ever that she wanted to “cover up” and was convinced that she feels better when she does.
“People are not looking at you because of the size of your breasts or your body shape, instead, people look at you because of your intelligence and your character. I don’t deny that I had cried after several modelling jobs recently. I love to cover myself up, so when I have to give in to the demands of my work which required me to be sexy, I felt exploited,” she said.
Haters & Keyboard Warriors
Heavy scepticism and criticism ensued in the months that followed as Muslims as well as non-Muslims claimed that she was being “disrespectful” towards Islam for wearing a hijab. Over 148,800 Facebook and blog fans called this out to be publicity stunt to gain more popularity and fame. Some even unfollowed/unliked her social media sites after that.
Her defence? Felixia said, “I won’t blame them. People, who don’t know me, do not read what I write, will get confused. My past photoshoots and modelling gigs which I have on my Facebook and blog, those are my achievements. I want people to know, if I can stop being sexy, cover myself up, be a better person, a respected woman, why can’t they understand the story and moral behind it? Let it be a story to inspire people”.
Lovers & Friends
While her mother has been fully supportive of her decision, friends haven’t been the friends they were supposed to be. According to Felixia, some of her real-life friends have shunned her and have avoided her. Other people, on the other hand, claim that she did this to attract “a rich Malay Datuk”.
“They say I did this to find a rich Malay Datuk to marry. If I wanted to find a rich man, I would have done it a long time ago when I was still actively modelling in sexy poses. Their criticisms defy logic. All I wanted to do was to cover up more and do more decent modelling,” she said.
Rumours have been rife that she is currently dating Raja Zainal Badri and the main reason behind her wanting to convert to Islam. Netizens who “exposed” the couple via Facebook have been circulating the below screenshots of pictures of the two together recently. Some have even taken to insulting the way he looks as well as his family background/ties, while others are calling Felixia a traitor (just like Leng Yein? not sure how that’s relevant):
Her First Ramadhan
In December 2013, she was asked if she would be wearing the hijab permanently, to which she confessed, “I want to be a better person, a better woman. The year 2014 will be the beginning of something beautiful”. But she was adamant back then that she was still a free-thinker, denying rumours of her plans to convert to Islam.
A few days ago, Felixia announced that she would officially recite the Muslim declaration of faith on 3rd July, which is her birthday, adding that the fifth day of Ramadan was Prophet Muhammad’s favourite date. That having said, it was not known where she would recite the shahadah or oath taken by a new Muslim as she preferred not to reveal the place. However, Felixia made the official announcement early this morning via her Facebook page when she changed her cover photo:
As at time of writing, the update has been shared over a hundred times and liked by more than 18,000 people in just a span of 2 hours. But perhaps people are more curious about her Muslim name? It was officially announced that Felixia Yeap’s Muslim name is Raisyyah Rania Yeap.
Congratulations, Rania, on your new journey. As always, we wish you all the best.
What do you guys think about her new name? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.