China Comes to the Rescue for Teenage Girl in Controversial Prom Dress


A Utah teen whose prom dress recently stirred up online controversy and accusations of cultural appropriation has received some support from those whose heritage she ostensibly offended.

As USA Today reported, 18-year-old Keziah Daum posted images and photos of herself and friends on prom night in a series of tweets that soon sparked widespread backlash.

The dress Daum chose to wear was is patterned after the cheongsam or qipao, a traditional Chinese garment, which led to accusations that individuals who are not Chinese should not wear it.

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One Twitter critic who identified herself as Asian wrote that it “isn’t ok” for Daum to wear such a dress.

“I wouldn’t wear traditional Korean, Japanese or any other traditional dress and I’m Asian,” she wrote. “I wouldn’t wear traditional Irish or Swedish or Greek dress either. There’s a lot of history behind these clothes.”

According to the South China Morning Post, however, the opprobrium did not spread widely online in China.

Responses to news articles and posts on Weibo, the nation’s leading social media platform, were reportedly dominated by support for the teen’s fashion choice.

Was her decision to wear this dress culturally insensitive?

A Wenxue City News report on the controversy included a number of such comments.

“Very elegant and beautiful!” one reader wrote. “Really don’t understand the people who are against her, they are wrong! I suggest the Chinese government, state television or fashion company invite her to China to display her cheongsam.”

Another reader added that Daum’s choice is “not cultural theft,” but a sign of “cultural appreciation and cultural respect.”

Numerous Weibo users expressed similar support.

“Culture has no borders,” read one response. “There is no problem, as long as there is no malice or deliberate maligning. Chinese cultural treasures are worth spreading all over the world.”

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Of course, Daum received plenty of support back at home, too. As of this writing, the comments on her original post are overwhelmingly positive.

The teen has continued to defend her choice, telling the Morning Post that she did not know the dress’ background when she selected it for its modest beauty.

“One person commented it represented female empowerment,” she said. “If that is the case, then it is a wonderful message for any young woman my age to learn, regardless of culture and background.”

She included an apology to anyone offended by her dress choice.

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Chris Agee is an American journalist with more than 15 years of experience in a wide range of newsrooms.
Chris Agee is an American journalist with more than 15 years of experience in a variety of newsroom settings. After covering crime and other beats for newspapers and radio stations across the U.S., he served as managing editor at Western Journalism until 2017. He has also been a regular guest and guest host on several syndicated radio programs. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife and son.
Texas Press Association, Best News Writing - 2012
Bachelor of Arts, Journalism - Averett University
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