People Are Torn Over This High School Girl’s Traditional Chinese Prom Dress
It’s prom season, so teen girls all over the country are searching for the perfect dress for their big night. I remember how big of a deal it is from my high school days! But the search for THE dress can sometimes go haywire, as one teen in Utah is discovering. Utah senior Keziah Daum wore a traditional cheongsam, or qipao, to her last prom. A cheongsam is a traditional Chinese dress, characterized by a high collar and skirt slit. They’re absolutely gorgeous. But the problem is, Keziah isn’t Chinese. And some people are calling her Chinese prom dress a major case of cultural appropriation.
Keziah Daum wore the Chinese prom dress, then shared some photos from her night on Twitter. That’s … never a good idea.
— Keziah (@daumkeziah) April 22, 2018
Keziah says she found the dress and fell in love. She loved the high neckline, which is hard to find in a prom dress. She told The Washington Post, “I thought it was absolutely beautiful.” She said the dress “really gave me a sense of appreciation and admiration for other cultures and their beauty.” But as soon as she posted the pictures, the backlash was almost immediate. Keziah says she had no idea her dress would create such a firestorm of controversy.
My culture is NOT your goddamn prom dress. https://t.co/vhkNOPevKD
— Jeremy Lam (@jere_bare) April 27, 2018
This isnâ€™t ok. I wouldnâ€™t wear traditional Korean, Japanese or any other traditional dress and Iâ€™m Asian. I wouldnâ€™t wear traditional Irish or Swedish or Greek dress either. Thereâ€™s a lot of history behind these clothes. Sad.
— Jeannie (@JeannieBeanie99) April 28, 2018
One of the issues people had with the photos, aside from the dress, was the group shot. The teens are posing with their hands in prayer pose, which looks concerning when paired with what Keziah is wearing.
But Keziah says the group was just mimicking a pose from popular YouTuber H3H3 Productions.
No lol. Stop trying to find an excuse to hate, the boys in the top row are doing the "vape nation" symbol and the girls are doing the "papa bless" symbol which is from @h3h3productions . I'm Korean and I completely support people wearing í•œë³µ!
— Lasagna.com (@SmashEnchilada) May 2, 2018
While many accused Keziah of cultural appropriation for her Chinese prom dress, plenty of people came to her defense, too.
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
Hi! I am a collector of cheongsams, with Chinese heritage and I think it is ridiculous other people are judging you! As Chinese, we are very proud and delighted to share our cultural fashions with anyone around the world. I love how you wear the dress with confidence! You rock!
— Stephanie Chan (@StephanieChan) May 1, 2018
Keziah feels “misunderstood” by the controversy, but she’s standing her ground. She told INSIDER, “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. I would like my critics to know that I have no ill intent against other cultures and that I was simply showing my appreciation.”
She also took to Twitter to defend herself and her dress choice.
To everyone who says Iâ€™m ignorant, I fully understand everyoneâ€™s concerns and views on my dress. I mean no harm. I am in no way being discriminative or racist. Iâ€™m tired of all the backlash and hate when my only intent was to show my love.
— Keziah (@daumkeziah) April 28, 2018
To everyone causing so much negativity: I mean no disrespect to the Chinese culture. Iâ€™m simply showing my appreciation to their culture. Iâ€™m not deleting my post because Iâ€™ve done nothing but show my love for the culture. Itâ€™s a fucking dress. And itâ€™s beautiful.
— Keziah (@daumkeziah) April 28, 2018
It’s an interesting discussion, to say the least. So what say you: cultural appropriation? Or cultural appreciation?