Life in the Land of Candle Princesses

Print / Illustration

The Candle Princess (Puteri Lilin) is an expression deriving from a Malay proverb for someone who abstains from being in the sun for extended periods of time. Implying that just like a candle, they’d melt from the heat. 

 

In Malaysian culture, it is commonly used as a nickname to ridicule young women who actively avoid sunlight in fear of tanning.  These Candle Princesses occupy a large part of Asia where skin whitening culture is frequently glorified and socially expected of young women with naturally darker skin. This series of graphic novels aim to educate teenage girls in Malaysia about the dangerous effects skin whitening culture has on their physical and mental health, as well as, attempting to break the cultural taboo surrounding it. 

 

Through interviews with prominent Malaysian media figures such as social media influencer Ana Misman and fifty-year-old singer Francissca Peter, these graphic novels explore the origins of colourism and the inescapable toxicity behind the post-colonial glorification of fair skin. 

 

Thus showcasing how, despite the whimsical nature of their nickname, the lives of Malaysia’s Candle Princesses are nowhere near as glamorous as they seem.