US teen in Chinese prom dress deserves praise, not a dressing down

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 May, 2018, 10:33am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 May, 2018, 10:33am

I read with concern Louise Moon’s article, “Chinese dress at US prom wins support in China after internet backlash” (May 1).

After American teenager Keziah Daum wore a traditional Chinese dress to her school prom, the internet was abuzz with discussion over whether it was an act of “cultural appropriation” or “cultural appreciation”. I would say that a non-Chinese person should be given the green light for wearing a qipao.

In contrast to the sentiment expressed in Jeremy Lam’s tweet, I found it heart-warming to see a foreigner enjoy Chinese culture. She looked gorgeous and happy in the beautiful traditional outfit. The whole cultural appropriation outrage is getting out of hand; people are being too sensitive and overreacting.

In fact, my research on the internet tells me that the modern qipao was created as a blend of Western and Chinese culture in Shanghai in the 1920s. Adopting elements of another culture is fine as long as it is respectful. Cultural exchange is a great way for cultures to influence each other. We should be celebrating acceptance and showing mutual respect, instead of hating on it.

Following the “logic” of Jeremy Lam’s cultural offensive, people who are not of British descent should not wear a tuxedo, since it evolved in Britain in the 1860s. Surely this is not cultural appropriation in the way that dressing as a native American for Halloween would be.

Tracy Chow, Sha Tin