A teenager is being ridiculed online and accused of cultural appropriation because she dared to wear a traditional Chinese dress to her prom.
Keziah Daum, an 18-year-old student in Utah, tweeted photos of herself with friends before her senior prom on April 22.
The teen wore a fiery red and gold qipao, a classic Chinese gown from the 17th century.
Daum’s photos triggered an angry response from Twitter user Jeremy Lam, who retweeted the images with the comment, “My culture is NOT your g-ddamn prom dress.”
Lam continued to blast Daum for wearing the gown, saying it represents “extreme barriers marginalized people within (Chinese) culture have had to overcome.”
He tweeted, “For it to simply be subject to American consumerism and cater to a white audience, is parallel to colonial ideology.”
Some critics agreed with Lam’s assessment and condemned Daum’s decision to wear the dress.
“Was the theme of the prom casual racism?” asked Twitter user .kate.
“Nope, it’s just a dress,” Daum replied.
Then Jeannie chimed in: “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.”
Others argued that the teenager was simply showing her admiration for the Chinese culture.
Siqi Chen told Lam: “You don’t speak for my culture. My culture had to go through too much actual bulls–t to be this sensitive and authoritarian about what other people want to wear. F— that. Wear whatever you want whenever you want.”
Kim Kham added: “I think that dress is very well made and looks good on you. I’m definitely not offended. Appreciating another culture is a compliment to me.”
Twitter user Wang Ke agreed: “I am Chinese. … [I] just wanted to tell you: thank you for loving Chinese culture and choosing this beautiful dress for the day! It looks so great on you! You are the most charming one in the photo! have a great day!”
Then Steven Wang shared his own observation: “Chinese wear suits, too. Don’t know what the fuss is about.”
Daum later responded to the critical tweets by explaining that she loved the dress when she found it in a vintage shop and was “simply showing appreciation” for Chinese culture by wearing it.
“I’m not deleting my post because I’ve done nothing but show my love for the culture,” she tweeted. “It’s a f—ing dress. And it’s beautiful.”
It’s not the first time accusations of cultural appropriation have been leveled at young women in the U.S. over their fashion choices.
As WND reported, white women at Pitzer College in Claremont, California, were accused of cultural appropriation in March 2017 because they wore hoop earrings. Hoop earrings date back to ancient Rome, Greece and ancient Sumerian culture. The classic ear accessories have been particularly popular among American women of every race since the 1960s and 1970s. Still, a group of Latina students spray-painted a message to the women who wore hoop earrings: “White girl, take OFF your hoops!”
When a white student asked questions about the spray-painted “art” message, Alegria Martinez, member of the “Latinx Student Union” emailed the following message to the entire student body, according to the Claremont Independent:
[T]he art was created by myself and a few other WOC [women of color] after being tired and annoyed with the reoccuring [sic] theme of white women appropriating styles … that belong to the black and brown folks who created the culture. The culture actually comes from a historical background of oppression and exclusion. The black and brown bodies who typically wear hooped earrings, (and other accessories like winged eyeliner, gold name plate necklaces, etc) are typically viewed as ghetto, and are not taken seriously by others in their daily lives. Because of this, I see our winged eyeliner, lined lips, and big hoop earrings serving as symbols [and] as an everyday act of resistance, especially here at the Claremont Colleges. Meanwhile we wonder, why should white girls be able to take part in this culture (wearing hoop earrings just being one case of it) and be seen as cute/aesthetic/ethnic. White people have actually exploited the culture and made it into fashion.
Martinez also posted the following message to Facebook, in which she added: “White girls everywhere: we ask that you take off your hoops, stop calling each other mamis, and start respecting our culture and our existence.”