Dress code

Teenager’s ‘offensive’ prom dress triggers massive backlash on social media

Controversial prom dress wearer Keziah Ginger Daum. (Twitter)

A teenager from Utah found herself at the center of a social media firestorm after posting a handful of photos from her prom night on Twitter. Keziah Ginger Daum was accused of cultural appropriation and of being a “racist” after wearing a qipao, a traditional Chinese dress to her prom late last month. Daum said she picked up the item in a vintage clothing store in Salt Lake City, after deciding she wanted a unique gown for the annual rite of teenage passage.

She posted four photos showing herself wearing the dress, and herself posing with her date and their friends on Twitter with the word “Prom,” unaware of what was about to happen online. An angry backlash swiftly ensued.

“My culture is NOT your goddamn prom dress,” one social media user fumed in a series of messages posted on Twitter. “The qipao was originally a loose dress/garment without shape, made for Chinese women to clean the house and do other domestic chores” while wearing, he added, pointing out that women eventually altered the dress to make it form fitting and the garment ultimately became a symbol of female empowerment.

Daum defended the decision to wear the dress, saying there was no intent to offend and that, if anything, her choice to wear it showed an appreciation for Chinese culture. “I thought it was absolutely beautiful,” she said, according to The Washington Post. But many continued to pile on Daum, saying, “That particular dress is a traditional garment with a lot of history behind it. If you don’t understand that then you DEFINITELY don’t respect the culture like you claim to,” and that she was too quick to dismiss people’s concerns that her wearing of the dress was “offensive.”

But not everyone took umbrage. Some voiced support for Daum having worn the dress to her prom, and others suggested that the incessant social media attacks on her amounted to online bullying. “I’m Chinese and I am NOT offended by this,” one social media user wrote. “Cultural appropriation is dumb. If you think this qipao is cute and you like my cultural [sic], rock that qipao!”

So far, Daum has stood her ground about her choice to wear the dress. She’s refused to apologize and wrote on Twitter that she’s also receiving many private messages of support amid the controversy. She denied that she is a racist and had a stern message for “everyone causing so much negativity”: “I’m not deleting my post because I’ve done nothing but show my love for the culture. It’s a fucking dress. And it’s beautiful.”

Read the full story at Yahoo.

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