This Girl’s Prom Dress Started a Major Twitter Debate. Here's Why.
Daum wore a traditional-style Chinese dress to her prom. The Twitterverse has a lot to say about it.
When Keziah Daum found her prom dress at a vintage store in Salt Lake City, Utah, she had no idea her dress would cause such a controversy. But the 18-year-old is now at the center of a Twitterstorm after sharing photos of herself in the ensemble, a traditional Chinese dress called a qipao (in Mandarin) or a cheongsam (in Cantonese).
Several people have accused Daum—who is not Chinese—of cultural appropriation and racism for wearing the dress without knowing its history, sparking a fierce online debate.
My culture is NOT your goddamn prom dress. https://t.co/vhkNOPevKD— Jeremy Lam (@jere_bare) April 27, 2018
In short:— Jeremy Lam (@jere_bare) April 28, 2018
I'm proud of my culture, including the extreme barriers marginalized people within that culture have had to overcome those obstacles. For it to simply be subject to American consumerism and cater to a white audience, is parallel to colonial ideology.
This isn’t ok. I wouldn’t wear traditional Korean, Japanese or any other traditional dress and I’m Asian. I wouldn’t wear traditional Irish or Swedish or Greek dress either. There’s a lot of history behind these clothes. Sad.— Jeannie (@JeannieBeanie99) April 28, 2018
Others said they didn’t find her attire offensive, as the qipao does not have a strong religious, ceremonial, or cultural significance — though in the West, the dress is stereotypically associated with Chinese culture.
Some observers from China have even said Daum’s dress choice was “cultural appreciation” not cultural appropriation.
Hey~！I'm Chinese and I live in China, I just want to say you look stunning in that dress, and pay no attention to those who say you shouldn't wear it because of some kind of "cultural appropriation", a lot of Chinese wear jeans and I didn't see anyone make a fuss about it~!— Willmore F (@Reaperxma) May 1, 2018
As a Chinese women I applaud you for wearing a qipao. if you’d gone to a Chinese restaurant for prom night I’d also 👏. if you meant to ridicule I doubt you’d wear this dress on your PROM night. Don’t people get you only go to your prom once? Who’d wear a dress they disliked? DUH— Julie Chang (@jcgolfing) April 30, 2018
As a legitimate Chinese Chinese, I can tell you, the vast majority of Chinese Chinese people think you look gorgeous in the qipao.— PokeSirena (@j2y8n2x) May 1, 2018
Moreover, the Qipao actually does not originate from China, but originates from Manchuria.
The real traditional dress of China is Hanfu.
我觉得很美哦！谢谢你喜欢中国旗袍— Zhangshengjie (@shengjie0404) May 1, 2018
“I think it’s beautiful! Thanking you for liking the Chinese qipao,” one woman tweeted in Chinese.
Another Twitter user said Daum’s ability to wear the traditional Chinese dress without apprehension was a reflection of white privilege, as minorities often hesitate to wear traditional or cultural clothing for fear of discrimination.
About my comment about having to assimilate:— NO PAT NO (@patriciaah_1) April 28, 2018
Ethnic people often don’t wear our traditional clothes because they can be targets to hate crimes, a fear white people do not feel when they put on those same clothes.
Others took issue with the way in which Daum and her friends are posing in one photo, crouched down with their hands pressed together, which some interpreted as mocking Asian customs. However, people have pointed out that both the girls’ poses and the boys’ poses in the photo appear to be references to gestures from YouTuber Ethan Klein's videos.
Someone explain why they decided to pose like this and the explain why it isn’t racist pic.twitter.com/9xBzQW24rU— Estevan (@AsstevanLM) April 29, 2018
Daum has said she will not take down the photos and reiterated that she wore the dress in appreciation, not mockery, of Chinese culture.
To everyone causing so much negativity: I mean no disrespect to the Chinese culture. I’m simply showing my appreciation to their culture. I’m not deleting my post because I’ve done nothing but show my love for the culture. It’s a fucking dress. And it’s beautiful.— Keziah (@daumkeziah) April 28, 2018
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