Keziah Daum, a senior at Woods Cross High School in Woods Cross, Utah, found her prom dress at a local thrift store. She knew it was the dress for her as soon as she saw it but after posting a series of photos to Twitter from prom night, people wondered if Daum had used the best judgement.
The dress Daum chose was a traditional Chinese cheongsam dress. The modern version of the form fitting, brightly colored, dress originated in Shanghai around the 1920's. The dress was often made of silk and worn by social elites and upper class women. First Lady of China, Madame Wellington Koo, often wore the cheongsam, adding to its popularity.
Over time, the cheongsam, has been adapted with different materials to function as casual wear and work uniforms. In China and Taiwan, female flight attendants and ground support wear a simple version of the cheongsam.
Daum told INSIDER that she liked the way the dress look, saying:
I bought the dress because I thought it was beautiful and admired the beauty of the culture.
However, many people feel the teen is appropriating a culture. Especially after the saw this photo.
This isn’t ok. I wouldn’t wear traditional Korean, Japanese or any other traditional dress and I’m Asian. I wouldn’t wear traditional Irish or Swedish or Greek dress either. There’s a lot of history behind these clothes. Sad.— Jeannie (@JeannieBeanie99) April 28, 2018
This Twitter user, in a series of tweets tried to explain why it was more than "just a dress."
I would just like to give you a bit of insight on where we are coming from. Ever since I came to the US, age of 5, I was forced to assimilate in one way or another. I wouldn’t bring Indian food because “it smells!!” And now it’s all I see everywhere. After our prayers, I wouldn’t— NO PAT NO (@patriciaah_1) April 28, 2018
want to put a bindi on, (what white people refer to as “the dot”) because I was scared of getting made fun of. My parents would get me these BEAUTIFUL dresses, and I wouldn’t wear them because I was afraid to get made fun of. When white people started to take pick and choose— NO PAT NO (@patriciaah_1) April 28, 2018
aspects of my culture they want to take, it became more accepting. The “why are you wearing THAT” comments became “wow! Where can I get one for myself”— NO PAT NO (@patriciaah_1) April 28, 2018
I understand you do not think this is offensive, but the fact of the matter you have offended people by posting this.
By constantly dismissing them by saying this wasn’t your intention, is frustrating to us. You will soon be in the real world where doing stuff like this will cause you a lot more than hate on a thread. Hope this helps shine a light.— NO PAT NO (@patriciaah_1) April 28, 2018
About my comment about having to assimilate:— NO PAT NO (@patriciaah_1) April 28, 2018
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.
Daum responded to the criticism with a series of tweets defending her point of view.
To everyone causing so much negativity: I mean no disrespect to the Chinese culture. I’m simply showing my appreciation to their culture. 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.— Keziah (@daumkeziah) April 28, 2018
I don’t understand everyone’s need or desire to cause so much hate. I’m simply showing my love for a beautiful culture and there is nothing wrong with that. Keep talking shit. I don’t care. I have much respect for the Chinese culture ❤️— Keziah (@daumkeziah) April 28, 2018
To everyone who says I’m ignorant, I fully understand everyone’s concerns and views on my dress. I mean no harm. I am in no way being discriminative or racist. I’m tired of all the backlash and hate when my only intent was to show my love.— Keziah (@daumkeziah) April 28, 2018
Some people thought the dress was beautiful but could do without the bowing hands.
I’m Asian & I think u look great in the dress! Hope u had a great prom! 🙏🏼 has been used to make fun of Asians when done from a non-Asian in the past. I’ll assume the 🙏🏼 was not intended to be racist but just understand it can be seen that way & I hope u learned from this 😄— 🎄David Choi🎄 (@DavidChoiMusic) April 30, 2018
Just for your info, I’m a 100% chinese and I found this amazingly beautiful. Just not the put ur palms together shot. Otherwise, i don’t see a problem.— ❄𝓝𝓪𝓽𝓱𝓪𝓷 𝓒. ナタン❄ (@nathanckk) April 30, 2018
Of course, a quick fix would be to delete the photos, but Daum's Twitter followers have gone up by thousands, so no chance of that happening anytime soon.