The latest season of Married At First Sight was a bin-fire for a lot of reasons, but probably one of the most rage-inducing storylines was watching sweet Selina Chhaur‘s self-esteem crumble in real-time because of Cody Bromley‘s racism. Now she’s come out of the show, she’s finally healing — and her new look is part of her journey.

ICYMI, Selina (who is ethnically half-Chinese, half-Cambodian) asked her on-screen husband Cody (who is whiter than a toilet) if his lack of attraction to her was because of her race. Cody said yes, literally starting his next sentence with “I’m not racist, but…”.

So of course, the conversation did indeed become racist, and then Cody tried to convince Selina his race preference was unproblematic and not something that has to ruin their relationship.

“[His comments] were like, ‘I’m judging you based off your ethnicity’,” Selina told PEDESTRIAN.TV, laughing at the absurdity of it all.

“Like that’s me. That defines me as a human being.”

This particular scene was heart-breaking viewing because Selina had just spoken about being bullied over her Asian looks, and how she constantly felt like an “ugly duck” who didn’t belong.

“He looked at me and was like ‘that’s not something I’m used to’ — that is something I quote from him,” Selina said.

“For someone who’s done a lot and immersed themselves in so much travelling, it blows my mind how I, a proud ethnic woman, am something [Cody’s] not ‘used’ to?

“It just blows my mind that there are still people out there who still think like that.”

But despite how humiliating it was to deal with such public racism, Selina told me the drama taught her how much internalised racism she was still holding onto herself.

“He made me feel like I was an alien,” she said.

“And even though I’m always proud to be Asian, this experience taught me that there were underlying things I was still holding onto. You know, like wearing my contacts — I thought having blue eyes was what’s considered beautiful.”

During MAFS, Selina’s hair was dyed blonde and she wore blue contacts — something she tells me was a symptom of internalising colourism.

“In Asian countries, people still bleach their skin, they’ve got peroxide in their moisturiser to keep their skin nice and white,” she said.

“I’m half Cambodian and in Cambodia, people are shit-scared of the sun because it’s considered beautiful and high-class to be light-skinned. If you’ve got dark skin, you’re considered low-class because you work at a farm, you’re exposed to sun. You’re a labourer.

“So it was a bit ingrained in me, to feel like I have to dye my hair blonde and have blue eyes and that’s considered beautiful.

“Now, watching this whole journey, it’s really taught me like ‘wow, there’s still people like Cody’. They’re the reason why, to this day, I still feel like I have to conform to this beauty standard.”

The realisation wasn’t a comfortable one for Selina, who had to try to let go of the frustration around what she endured on MAFS, and also of the racial insecurities she was holding onto before she even applied.

So she did something about it — by reverting back to her natural eye colour and dyeing her hair dark again. Now, I’m aware of all the memes about dyeing your hair to get over a man — but really, by embracing looking Asian, Selina is choosing to get over her internalised colourism, no matter what racist beauty standards want her to believe about her looks.

“[Dyeing my hair] is definitely a reclaiming,” Selina said, and I could hear the glow in her voice.

“I’m a proud ethnic woman and I feel so empowered — I feel like I’ve re-birthed myself. Like I’ve gotten rid of the darkness.”

No pun intended, of course.

For Selina, her new look is one of defiance, because she finally feels like she can actually be herself. But if there’s one thing she has to say after what she endured on MAFS, it’s this:

“If anyone has to start a sentence with “I’m no racist, but…” should really think about the next few words that are about to come out of their mouth,” she said, laughing.

“Because it is racist to not give people a chance based on their ethnicity. That is racist.”

I hope a certain someone is listening. But even if he isn’t, who cares? Not Selina, who is finally happy and compromising herself for no one.