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Prom Dress Sparks Cultural Appropriation Debate

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A Utah high school Senior created a great debate of cultural appropriation on Twitter after posting a picture in her prom dress.

Keziah Daum wore a form-fitting traditional Chinese dress known as the qipao. She found this dress when browsing a vintage store in Salt Lake City. Daum is not Chinese; however, she told The Washington Post that she wanted a stand-out dress, “something that would be more unique and bold and had some sort of meaning to it.”

Daum found this dress to be a perfect fit. She said, the dress “really gave me a sense of appreciation and admiration for other cultures and their beauty.”

On the Sunday after the dance, Daum posted photos alongside many of her friends in her prom dress. Instantly, she elicited a huge response from other users.

Jeremey Lam tweeted, “My culture is NOT your …. prom dress.” Lam also wrote “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.”

Many other users have also accused Daum of cultural appropriation, sharing the tweet over 42,000 times.

One user wrote, “You just don’t wear it if ur not chinese … it’s not something to play dress up with.”

Daum responded to the Tweets by saying, “I don’t see the big deal of me wearing a gorgeous dress I found for my last prom. 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.”

Many users also showed their support for Daum including those identifying as Asian American.

Daum is not letting the social media backlash get her down. She has refused to remove her Twitter post. Daum told The Washington Post, “I’d wear it again,” in response to the dress.

Are you looking for digital journalism training and experience? Are you a journalism major who wants to take your career to the next level? CMN’s Digital Journalism course gives you real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to journalism influencers and mentors, and a great place to display your work. You can get academic credit too. Check out the Digital Journalism Course here.

Abby Goss is a senior at West Chester University. She will graduate in the Spring with a Bachelor of the Arts in English and a Minor in Journalism. She is a dedicated writer and has produced content for several outlets including Kelly Roach Coaching, The Odyssey Online, The Torch, and The Quad. She can be reached at abbygoss96@gmail.com.

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