It is that season in secondary school when all the students prepare for prom.
A prom is a semi-formal dance or gathering of high school students. It is held near the end of the senior year. Like many young people getting ready for prom, Utah senior Keziah Daum needed to locate a dress that would stand out. She said in an interview: “something that would be more unique and bold and had some sort of meaning to it,”
She explored the store in downtown Salt Lake City, where she came across a red cheongsam, also known as a qipao — the high-collared, form-fitting traditional Chinese dress. Keziah Daum is not Chinese but she liked the outfit and thought its high neckline is difficult to find in any other prom dress.
She said: “I thought it was absolutely beautiful,”
“really gave me a sense of appreciation and admiration for other cultures and their beauty.”
— Keziah (@daumkeziah) April 22, 2018
A Twitter user commented:
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.
— Bôh (@jere_bare) April 28, 2018
Another Twitter user wrote:
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
People have gone mad and continued bashing Keziah. People bashed her for the photo in which she and her friends holding hands together in prayer-like poses. Keziah said she and her friends were inspired to make the pose by a popular YouTube personality, and she did not know it would be depicted as culturally offensive.
Keziah tweeted and wrote:
”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”.
Many people supported her choice of dress and said they did not find it offensive.
Some Twitter users commented on the support of Keziah and wrote:
Hi! I am a collector of cheongsams, with Chinese heritage and I think it is ridiculous other people are judging you! As Chinese, we are very proud and delighted to share our cultural fashions with anyone around the world. I love how you wear the dress with confidence! You rock!
— Stephanie Chan (@StephanieChan) May 1, 2018
Good on you for wearing that dress. You look beautiful in it, and don't let them tell you that you have to be Asian to appreciate the dress. There are just too many trolls out there. Happy Grad 2018!
— Favian Yee (@FavianYee) May 1, 2018
Keziah’s Twitter followers increased from few hundreds to more than 31,000. She received so many direct messages some positive and some negative. Her teachers and classmates expressed their concern and supported her. Her mother Melissa Dawes tweeted:
“We’ve had to pull her away from it because it has gotten overwhelming,”
“These are adults attacking basically a kid. … She wasn’t looking for this at all.”
“I’m proud of her for standing her ground because she didn’t do anything wrong,”
Keziah said: “This does give me a better sense of choice and being careful in what I say in posts and how it can be perceived differently,”
“It’s taught me to be extra cautious because you don’t want people to see it the wrong way.”
“there are people who are going to find something to offend them no matter what it is.”
“I’d wear it again,”.