US Teen who drew flak for wearing a Chinese quipao to the prom says she’d do it again

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High school student Kezia Daum, who drew a lot of criticism online for wearing a Chinese dress (qipao) to her prom last week, says she has no regrets and would wear the dress another time.

Ms. Daum, who lives in Utah, was accused of racism and cultural appropriation after sharing prom photos of herself and her friends on Twitter. She wore a red qipao, a traditional Chinese dress that has roots from the 17th century. 

Ms. Daum had no idea her photos would go viral. “I never imagined a simple rite or passage such as a prom would cause a discussion reaching many parts of the world. Perhaps it is an important discussion we need to have,” she said in an interview on Good Morning America. She said in the interview that she would, however, wear the dress again.

A man named Jeremy Lam commented first on Ms. Daum’s photos, saying, “My culture is NOT your goddamn prom dress”, a comment which was retweeted more than 40,000 times in just a short while. 

In one of the photos, Ms. Daum and her friends are also seen bowing with their hands in prayer position, palms close together. Because of her dress and because the pose was seen as a mockery of Chinese culture, Ms. Daum has been called a racist.

She denied this, and said that she and her friends had copied the post from YouTube star Ethan Klein, who made the term “Papa Bless” popular some years ago. Ms Daum said, “It had nothing to do with race or racial slurs. It never intended to be thought of as racist.”

Aside from Mr Lam, many other netizens criticized Ms. Daum for cultural appropriation. 

The teen insisted that she never meant to cause a misunderstanding of any kind, and had in fact done research into the history of the qipao, and appreciated that it stood as a symbol for female empowerment.

Ms. Daum’s mother, Melissa Dawes, also sent out a tweet in an attempt to give a context to the pose her daughter and friends made in the prom photos, “I am getting questions about the photo of the kids posing. Not justifying, just giving you context. The pose is called ‘Papa Bless from H3H3 productions.”