US high school student faces backlash for wearing a qipao to her prom

Ideology differences brought about war between nations throughout the course of history, evidently dating back to the era of the warring states. However, in this day and age, an American high school student has sparked a war of words over the Internet when she tweeted pictures of herself in a cheongsum, or qipao- a traditional Chinese dress- for her prom last week (April 22), which invited international debate and criticism.

In response to the 18-year-old, Keziah Daum’s post on social media site, Twitter, another user, Jeremy Lam, tweeted “My culture is NOT your… prom dress,” with his original reply including profanities, accusing her of “cultural appropriation”, which

 

In a subsequent post, he wrote: “I’m proud of my culture… For it to simply be subject to American consumerism and cater to a white audience, is parallel to colonial ideology,” which has garnered 12,000 likes and about 1,000 retweets to date.


Other Twitter users who described themselves as Asian-American also took to twitter to criticise her wearing of the dress, saying that it was an example of cultural appropriation, a sign of disrespect and exploitation. Strike while iron is hot, as one of the many Chinese sayings go.

 

Naturally, every argument or dispute has two sides to it. On the other side- literally, the people in Asia instead, proclaimed her choice of the traditional high-necked dress as a victory for Chinese culture.

 

“It’s ridiculous to criticize this as cultural appropriation,” Zhou Yijun, a Hong Kong-based cultural commentator, said in a telephone interview with a newspaper publication company. “From the perspective of a Chinese person, if a foreign woman wears a qipao and thinks she looks pretty, then why shouldn’t she wear it?” If anything, the uproar surrounding Daum’s dress prompted many Chinese to reflect on examples of cultural appropriation in their own country.

 

Chinese culture has come a long way since the ancient times. While a large part of tradition has been kept, there are definitely some aspects to it that have been westernised with time- an example would be the cheongsum, which directly translates to long gown, or qipao, which directly translates to banner gown.

 

Qipao was named after the Banner people who wore Manchu-style clothing during the Qing dynasty. Originally, the qipao was made to be wide and loose worn by women of higher SES during the Qing dynasty, which reigned in China for more than 250 years.

 

It was modernised and reinvented in the 1920s, tailored to the figure of the person wearing it.

 

Personally, if you would ask me, I think the lady looks amazingly stunning in the qipao! Well, we’ll let you be the judges.

 

 

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