Keziah Daum, a high school graduate from Salt Lake City, USA, never expected that wearing a traditional Chinese dress to her prom would provoke such controversy. The 18-year-old, who decided to "be unique and bold" by wearing a qipao to the highly anticipated rite of passage, has enraged people online and attracted waves of criticism.
The post began making the rounds after another user — Jeremy Lam — retweeted it with the caption: “My culture is NOT your goddamn prom dress.”
In a series of subsequent tweets, Lam explained that the dress represented “extreme barriers that marginalized people within (Chinese) culture have had to overcome”
Although his tweets criticizing Keziah's decision to wear the dress went viral, users were divided on whether it was an issue.
Another person tweeted: "This isn’t ok. I wouldn’t wear traditional Korean, Japanese or any other traditional dress and I’m Asian.”
Daum responded that she meant no offense to Chinese culture by simply wearing a traditional Chinese dress.
While many people agreed with Jeremy's argument, a vast number of people have chosen to ignore his stance, and instead have decided to defend Keziah.
The story was reported in China this week, and most of the viewers have already shared their opinions on the matter.
The majority of the Chinese people are defending Daum, saying that it's not a big of a deal，Instead, they are proud of it and welcome foreigners to immerse themselves in Chinese culture.
The promotion of Chinese culture in the world has become more prevalent in recent years. You can see more Chinese elements in fashion nowadays, especially with the rise of independent Chinese designers who wish to share their heritage with the world. The theme of the Met Gala, otherwise known as the fashion world's Oscars, back in 2015 was “China: Through the Looking Glass." The beautiful women in attendance were wearing dresses that incorporate Chinese elements in ways that suited them. As more and more people desire to understand Chinese culture, Chinese citizens should also do their best to welcome and educate them.
Truth be told, I personally don’t find this to be a sensitive matter. But I do sense a bit of cultural appropriation behind it. The outrage seems to stem from Chinese Americans.
I also want to add that since the advent of globalization, cultural goods can easily be consumed, so I don’t feel offended by this matter at all. However, I can see how and why some of the Chinese citizens that have immigrated all over the world may feel more sensitive about the matter, since cultural symbols like these are tied more closely to their identity than, maybe, a mainland Chinese like me. It could also be that my Chinese identity is rooted in many other things that lie beyond culture symbols.