Teen wore a traditional Chinese dress to prom, and sparked internet debate
A non-Chinese teen wore a traditional Chinese dress to prom, and the internet is divided over whether or not she made the right decision. Some felt she was appropriating the culture. Some thought it was just a dress and there was no problem at all. More than 13,000 people weighed in altogether — making for an intense, knockdown debate.
Utah senior Keziah Daum was prom dress shopping when she stumbled upon a qipao, a bodyhugging, high-collared traditional Chinese dress. She told The Washington Post that she liked the high neckline (a rare find in the prom dress market) and thought the ensemble was “absolutely beautiful.”
“[The dress] really gave me a sense of appreciation and admiration for other cultures and their beauty,” Daum added.
The high school student took to Twitter to share pictures of herself wearing her new dress — and the backlash was swift.
— Keziah (@daumkeziah) April 22, 2018
Some found Daum’s outfit choice offensive and accused her of cultural appropriation. They also questioned her prayer pose — though the teen told The Washington Post that she was just mimicking a YouTube personality.
My culture is NOT your goddamn prom dress. https://t.co/vhkNOPevKD
— Jeremy Lam (@jere_bare) April 27, 2018
If you “appreciate” and “love” our culture, you’d know it’s a traditional gown. Yet you claim, “it’s just a dress”. It has cultural meaning and significance to us. What you said shows no appreciation but shows plenty of appropriation.— megs (@meganphung) April 28, 2018
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
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
Others had no problem with her dress, and complimented the teen for embracing another culture.
I am a Chinese woman. I support you. You rocked that dress!! I have an 18 year old daughter who just had her prom. She said people might be just jealous that you look awesome in that dress. 😁— YING LI (@msyinseattle) May 1, 2018
Good on you for wearing that dress. You look beautiful in it, and don't let them tell you that you have to be Asian to appreciate the dress. There are just too many trolls out there. Happy Grad 2018!— Favian Yee (@FavianYee) May 1, 2018
Girl you better rock this dress. We all humans. No need to be greedy and act like something can only be for ONE person/Group. People need to stop ambushing you. You think it’s a beautiful dress so why can’t people be proud youthink their cultural dress is gorg?— LaFawnduh (@Little___Renee) April 29, 2018
Meanwhile, Daum has been watching all the intense debate unfold from behind her computer and feels misunderstood by the critics. She told INSIDER that she is going to “stand [her] ground.”
“I feel people have seen the photos and others opinions and has viewed them in the wrong way. Making assumptions is something that has definitely caused a lot of this controversy and backlash,” Daum said. “I would like my critics to know that I have no ill intent against other cultures and that I was simply showing my appreciation.”
The teen took to Twitter to argue her side of the case, and insisted that she really didn’t get what all the fuss was about.
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
“To everyone causing so much negativity: I mean no disrespect to the Chinese culture,” she tweeted. “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.”