Object 2 : Tweet from twitter user @daumkeziah

June 1, 2021


On April 22nd, 2018, a Caucasian woman posted photos on twitter of her wearing a traditional Chinese Qipao to her prom. Upon posting these pictures, she was met with a wave of backlash from people accusing her of cultural appropriation for failing to acknowledge its cultural significance, but also received just as many compliments and approval for her use of the dress.

The group of people accusing her of cultural appropriation believed that wearing this dress for the sole purpose of wanting to be “different” among her peers at her prom is disrespectful to the cultural significance that this dress holds: it symbolized beauty, elegance and wealth among Chinese women. Many twitter users expressed their views by saying this use of the Qipao is parallel to colonial ideology, in the sense that something with a background of a marginalized group overcoming extreme barriers of oppression has become subject to American consumerism to cater to a white audience. Others argue that, when someone appreciates the aesthetics of cultural garments, it is cultural appreciation rather than appropriation. People often have misunderstandings, as many believe that is you are not explicitly appreciating another culture, it should immediately be labelled as cultural appropriation. The fear of the appropriation of cultures and being accused of cultural appropriation hinders the dissemination/communication of culture/knowledge.

This object enriches the exhibition by showing how cultural appreciation can open doors for people looking to learn more about a certain culture. When this woman wore this garment, even if just for the aesthetic value, she actively made a statement that she likes and wants to learn more about the culture. Even though this could encourage the dissemination/communication of knowledge, people continue to defend their culture from outsiders. The fear that foreign consumers may take traditional garments and denounce its history is a valid reason for appointing certain measures against the dissemination of knowledge and spreading of cultures.

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