When Utah high school senior Keziah Daum went looking for a prom dress, she wanted something special and unique.
And she found exactly what she was looking for in a vintage store in downtown Salt Lake City, but little did she know that the bright red, traditional-style Chinese dress would cause such an uproar on social media.
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"I thought it was absolutely beautiful," Daum, who is not Chinese, told The Washington Post. She said the dress "really gave me a sense of appreciation and admiration for other cultures and their beauty."
But when Daum posted a series of pictures on Twitter of herself wearing the dress, she unleashed the fury of commenters, who accused her of cultural appropriation and even racism, the Post reported.
"My culture is NOT your … prom dress," a Twitter user named Jeremy Lam said. "I'm proud of my culture, including the extreme barriers marginalized people within that culture have had to overcome those obstacles. For it to simply be subject to American consumerism and cater to a white audience, is parallel to colonial ideology."
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.— Jeannie (@JeannieBeanie99) April 28, 2018
Daum’s tweet was shared more than 40,000 times and sparked many comments similar to those from Lam.
Daum said she was not being a racist when she chose the dress.
I love and appreciate diversity and other cultures. I mean no hate. I love everyone ❤️— Keziah (@daumkeziah) April 29, 2018
“I don’t see the big deal of me wearing a gorgeous dress I found for my last prom,” she tweeted. “If anything, I’m showing my appreciation to other cultures and I didn’t intend to make anyone think that I’m trying to be racist. It’s just a dress.”
To everyone who says I’m ignorant, I fully understand everyone’s concerns and views on my dress. I mean no harm. I am in no way being discriminative or racist. I’m tired of all the backlash and hate when my only intent was to show my love.— Keziah (@daumkeziah) April 28, 2018
After criticism of student Keziah Daum’s Twitter post showing her wearing the traditional qipao, Chinese commenters call it cultural appreciation, not appropriationhttps://t.co/4fCfEzGggV— Fat Chinese Gaming (@stephentangy) May 1, 2018
So this dude found a random girl online and convinced 100k+ people to bully her over a prom dress.— Ethan Klein (@h3h3productions) April 29, 2018
Bro if your idea of your culture is so shallow that it can be boiled down to a dress then if anyone is insulting it its you. https://t.co/4WbKqZU3kz
Cox Media Group