Amazingly, pushback in the liberal U.S. media has begun against the social-media nastiness heaped on Utah teenager Keziah Daum for wearing a qipao, a form-fitting Chinese dress, to her senior prom (see here and here). Although of course the New York Times won’t editorialize against cultural appropriation, they did publish this article, reporting the furor in the U.S. But that furor didn’t take place in China, as the Chinese were either baffled by the reaction on American social media or were proud of Daum for appropriating “their” culture. (It’s likely that the qipao was in fact influenced by Western fashion.) Click on the article below to see what the Times said:
When the furor reached Asia, though, many seemed to be scratching their heads. Far from being critical of Ms. Daum, who is not Chinese, many people in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan proclaimed her choice of the traditional high-necked dress as a victory for Chinese culture.
“I am very proud to have our culture recognized by people in other countries,” said someone called Snail Trail, commenting on a post of the Utah episode by a popular account on WeChat, the messaging and social media platform, that had been read more than 100,000 times.
“It’s ridiculous to criticize this as cultural appropriation,” Zhou Yijun, a Hong Kong-based cultural commentator, said in a telephone interview. “From the perspective of a Chinese person, if a foreign woman wears a qipao and thinks she looks pretty, then why shouldn’t she wear it?”
If anything, the uproar surrounding Ms. Daum’s dress prompted many Chinese to reflect on examples of cultural appropriation in their own country.