A teenager from Utah has caused controversy after pictures of her prom dress, which has been viewed as culturally insensitive and a form of appropriation, went viral.
However, despite the ill-feelings her dress has caused, particularly among the Asian community, 18-year-old Keziah Daum has remained defiant in her choice of clothing. She has even stated she would wear the dress again if she had a chance.
While Daum, who wore a Chinese dress – known traditionally as a qipao – has no regrets about wearing it to her high school prom, she says had no intentions of causing offence.
Speaking to Good Morning America she said she never thought pictures of her wearing the 17th-century Chinese outfit would go viral ‘like that’ but she ‘would wear it again’.
Pictures of the teenager wearing the dress went viral after Twitter user Jeremy Lam accused Daum’s post of cultural appropriation. Lam, who was one of the first people to call her out after she posted it on the social media platform, wrote ‘My culture is NOT your goddamn prom dress’.
Lam’s comment was soon retweeted over 40,000 times, thus sparking a debate on both sides of the argument. Some people on his side even labelled her a racist, accusing her of cultural appropriation.
My culture is NOT your goddamn prom dress. https://t.co/vhkNOPevKD
— Jeremy Lam (@jere_bare) April 27, 2018
While others were angry at her choice of attire others felt she was being disrespectful towards Chinese culture when she and her friends struck a prayer pose for their prom photo. She claims they were copying popular YouTuber Ethan Klein’s ‘Papa Bless’ catchphrase.
According to The Daily Mail, She told GMA
I never imagined a simple rite of passage such as a prom would cause a discussion reaching many parts of the world. Perhaps it is an important discussion we need to have.
She went on to say her dress:
…had nothing to do with race or racial slurs. It never intended to be thought of as racist.
Lam, who was also on the show, told GMA:
They were wearing a dress and using a stereotyped Chinese posture without acknowledging the history behind that piece of clothing,
Daum’s mother, Melissa Dawes, came to her defence on Twitter. In her post, she clarifies ‘The pose is called ‘Papa Bless from H3H3 productions.’ While she’s not ‘justifying’ how her daughter executed the pose and distributed the photo, she says she just wanted to offer Daum’s picture some ‘context’.
Daum told GMA she had bought the dress when she came across it at a local vintage store, after making her purchase she claims to have done some research on the dress’s cultural significance.
The qipao dates back to 17th century China and was worn by women as a symbol of female empowerment. Daum says after learning about the dress’s history it made her ‘love it even more’.
She also clarifies her ‘intention was never to cause any commotion or misunderstanding’.
While it may seem like a non-issue to some, it is worth bearing in mind cultural identity is important and sacred to those of other nationalities.
To see something heavily linked to an individual’s culture or heritage sported for fashion purposes – without the knowledge or proper context of its significance – can be very triggering.
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