Prom is a magical time of year for most 18-year-olds as it signifies the end of a chapter and a right of passage to growing up. While the guys go for the perfectly fitted suit that makes them look dapper, the girls use it as an opportunity to shop for the most glamorous floor-length gowns because, aside from their wedding day, most of won't get many opportunities again.
Keziah Daum is an 18-year-old girl like any other who went all out for her prom... but things went a bit sour the day after when she received a ton of hate on social media for her choice in dress.
People were not happy about Keziah wearing a stunning Chinese qipao to her prom. Some started to point the ‘cultural appropriation’ and ‘casual racism’ finger at her, while others took to her defence claiming that the dress is made for people to share cultures and tradition and that they were using the dress as an opportunity to bully Keziah.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines cultural appropriation as "the act of taking or using things from a culture that is not your own, especially without showing that you understand or respect this culture." It is a hot point of debate as to the line between appreciating and enjoying another culture, or actually appropriating it, which also rests on a lot of subjective views on the topic.
Keziah claimed she was unaware of the historical background to the dress when she bought it at a vintage store in Salt Lake City and claims that she meant to show no disrespect. “I simply found a beautiful, modest gown and chose to wear it,” she told the South China Morning Post. “I am sorry if anyone was offended. That was never my intention. I am grateful I was able to wear such a beautiful dress.”
However, people still took offence as she posted a group photo with her friends holding the stereotypical hands-together-bowing pose that has been used to define and mock the Chinese culture. Keziah explained that they had just been trying to recreate a photo from an H3H3 meme which didn't ease the accusations of cultural insensitivity. The social media users that defended her said: “Culture has no borders,” one Weibo user wrote. “There is no problem, as long as there is no malice or deliberate maligning. Chinese cultural treasures are worth spreading all over the world.” Another person commented: “It is not cultural theft, It is cultural appreciation and cultural respect.”
Keziah decided to stand up for herself by saying she did not disrespect the Chinese culture in any way and refused to delete any of the posts or pictures, adding: “To everyone who says I’m ignorant, I fully understand everyone’s concerns and views on my dress. I mean no harm.”
Do you think people are being over sensitive or do you think she should not have worn the dress? Comment below!