Zee and Yuna dress more conservatively and grasp guitars rather than men on stage and in video, but have also come under criticism.
As Zee’s career took off, she was chosen last year as a youth ambassador of her home state of Sarawak on Borneo island, but she was accused of denying her roots when she spoke only English in a 2010 promotional visit to Kuala Lumpur.
Nevertheless, “this generation is definitely breaking stereotypes and as far as possible, the government has been very supportive as seen with the recognition Zee Avi has in Sarawak,” Goh said.
Zee said social media has given more power to the artist to decide “what to do and how to dress.”
With Yuna’s hijab framing her fashion-model looks, many women look to her as a more conservative role model, someone who has deftly balanced success, both at home and abroad, with a Muslim image.
However, even she says that her choice of a life in show business has seen her commitment to Islam questioned.
“I’m not Mizz Nina. I’m covered head to toe, but still they say bad things about me. They say I’m a disgrace,” she said.
Yuna said that her use of social media such as Twitter or YouTube helped give her enough independence to have “this racehorse view — just shut everything out and go towards your goal and success. It’s amazing what social media can do to your music and art if you know how to use it, have the right platform and what you want to sell.”