ALL THAT JAZZ: Bridal unboxing trend a little too much?

13 Jan 2022 06:41am
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I understand why unboxing videos are so popular. It’s weirdly thrilling and therapeutic to watch someone unpack a box of stuff and tell you all about it.

Unboxing experiences on YouTube garner a huge audience. It’s a simple narrative but an engaging one at that. While unboxing videos are a dime a dozen, I can’t recall any that went distinctively viral - perhaps because nothing extraordinary really happens when someone walks you through a product.

I wished for an interesting 2022 in my first column for Sinar Daily and it feels like the universe listened because people are now unboxing... people? The past few days have been abuzz with a new unboxing trend that has emerged on TikTok.

It features newlywed Muslim couples in Malaysia standing in front of the mirror in their wedding attire while the bride captures her husband removing accessories from her hijab one by one.

This trend is called ‘unboxing by husband’ or ‘unboxing pengantin’ (bridal unboxing). Many newlyweds hopped on the trend, capturing it as a sweet moment shared between a husband and wife but there’s a huge debate that this ‘romantic’ gesture should stay behind closed doors, a private moment to be shared between the couple and not for the public to see.

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The trend was met with backlash and heavy criticism as it’s perceived to go against Islamic principles and values. It triggered a chain of reactions from the public and religious authorities alike.

In an interview, former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Seri Dr Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri advised newlyweds to stray away from recording such acts as it goes against Islamic principles. He said Islam encourages husband to protect their wives’ honour and dignity. He is also worried that this trend and culture would be normalised among the youth.

Meanwhile, the Perak Islamic Religious Department wrote in its Facebook post how the act of ‘unboxing’ is not part of Islamic teaching and that it invites slander. Then there is the argument among netizens where women should not be objectified or treated as possessions as unboxing trends are typically linked with the act of unpacking an item.

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Here’s my unpopular opinion. In the videos, nothing was fully removed – the brides still kept their hijabs on. Frankly speaking, there are far more provocative content on social media than that.

But I do understand the point of views from the Islamic perspective and how women shouldn’t objectify themselves.

To me, the bigger picture is grasping how society has normalised the culture of over-sharing on social media. Not everything is meant to be shared online what more turned into a trend for the sake of getting more views.

The line between what’s meant to be private or public shouldn’t be blurred. Far too many times I’ve witnessed content on my feed that I felt should be kept private.

Videos like these may seem harmless at a glance but it leaves room for the viewer’s imagination to run wild afterwards. There are consequences to what you post and once it’s made public, it stays on the internet forever. Trends come and go, but content remains.

Now excuse me while I go unbox my latest Shopee purchase.

ALL THAT JAZZ column is written by Syahirah Mokhtazar, Head of Lifestyle at Sinar Daily.
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