After studying other faiths, former Playboy model Felixia Yeap finds God and wants to prove she is more than her skin through converting to Islam.
A former Playboy bunny announced recently that she has found religion and is leaving her past lifestyle behind. Felixia Yeap, the first Malaysian model to become a Playboy bunny, converted to Islam on Thursday, July 3rd. Announcing her decision on Facebook to her 860,000 followers, Yeap referred to her life-changing decision as being “like a rebirth,” stating, “I hope everyone will pray that I will be steadfast and committed in my new journey. Only Allah can repay all those who prayed for my new life.” She converted on her 28th birthday, which fell on the fifth day of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim calendar and a time of fasting and observance for Muslims worldwide.
Although a life-changing conversion for Yeap, her decision did not cause much surprise. For several years, the former Playboy bunny has eschewed posing for racy photos, instead modeling in traditional Muslim women’s garb such as the hijab. In a blog post, she explained her wearing of the hijab: “I believe I am worth more than just showing off my body. I am more than this. And I don’t feel proud if attention- or fame-seeking model wannabes out there look at me as their idol or role model.” In a post on her Facebook page, Yeap again stressed her desire to shed her past lifestyle and serve as a positive role model for women, stating, “the best example I am trying to set; is to be a Muslim, a Chinese and a Malaysian.”
Despite her joy at discovering the Islamic faith, Yeap has met some resistance from her family members as well as criticism from some of her fans, who called her wearing of the hijab “a publicity stunt.” Others claimed she was doing it in an attempt to snare a rich Muslim husband. In Malaysia, a country struggling with ethnic and religious strife, converts to a different religious tradition may face scrutiny, shaming, and even disowning by their friends and family members. Her seven-month quest to study Islam was filled with insults, sarcasm, and shunning.
In the face of this criticism, Yeap stated, “I admit, there were times I felt crushed and defeated. But I firmly stood my ground and did not take off my hijab. I continued my struggle.” She credits her mother with supporting her in her path and providing her with some of the strength she needed to follow through with her decision. She said that her mother “gave her blessings when I told her that I was learning about Islam and intended to embrace the faith.”
The model’s journey into faith did not start with Islam, however. Earlier, Yeap had studied Christianity and Buddhism, but was left unfulfilled. “I went to Catholic Church every Sunday evening for two years. I’ve tried to understand Christianity,” she wrote. “I also tried to adopt Buddhist practices. But my heart never felt close to God. My heart never felt touched.” Yeap further stated that many people seek happiness in earthly and material things such as making money and partying: “Most hungered for wealth and they searched for it without caring for their dignity. But for me, that was not the wealth that I longed for. For what is the point of being wealthy when your life feels empty, meaningless and drowned in sin. That is not the happiness I seek.”