A white high school student who wore a traditional Chinese dress to her prom last Saturday in Utah has received more than 8,000 tweets taking issue with her fashion choice.
The light-eyed brunette, Keziah Daum, tweeted prom photos showing her in a red satiny dress. The gown was what is often called "Chinese red," with a Mandarin collar, short sleeves, slit seam and intricate embroidery.
"My friends in my school were/are still bullied for wearing this beautiful style of dress. But when a white girl does it it's 'beautiful' and enriching, that's the difference," commented emily @emmaleerose, a Twitter user from Ontario.
"If you 'appreciate' and 'love' our culture, you'd know it's a traditional gown. Yet you claim, it's just a 'dress.' It has cultural meaning and significance to us. What you said shows no appreciation but shows plenty of appropriation," wrote megs @Megan_Phung, a Twitter user.
"Ethnic people often don't wear our traditional clothes because they can be targets to hate crimes, a fear white people do not feel when they put on those same clothes," tweeted NO PAT NO @patriciaah_1, a college student.
But others observed that the uproar was misguided and overblown.
"Chinese here. Just wanted to say that you look great, and I don't get why everyone is getting so upset over a dress. I hope you won't be too affected by them, and that you had a great time at your prom," said Twitter user ct @ct_quacks.
"You totally slayed this look," commented Xavier @OfficialXavier_, a recent college graduate with a degree in management tourism, suggesting Daum looked good in the dress. "Don't let these racists hate on you. Jealousy comes in all kinds of ways."
"Thanks for appreciating Asian culture. this is dope," tweeted KOOYA, using a slang term to mean "excellent" or "impressive."
"A modern #qipao is culturally meant to be worn for fashion, from casual to formal. It is appropriate for a variety of occasions," tweeted Kenson @rikognition, a Twitter user from Los Angeles, adding that what "would be inappropriate would be wedding qipaos, white funeral robes, Buddhist monk robes, military wear, red army uniforms, and imperial clothing."
Daum apologized several times on Twitter for offending anyone, saying it was unintentional. By Monday afternoon, her original tweet received 62,146 likes, 8,100 comments and 4,010 retweets.
"To everyone causing so much negativity: I mean no disrespect to the Chinese culture. I'm simply showing my appreciation to their culture," she replied. "I'm not deleting my post because I've done nothing but show my love for the culture. It's a [expletive] dress. And it's beautiful."