Why's the Chinese guy culturally appropriating the American style of dress?

This might cause a small problem or two for certain sections of the more vibrant end of the pop music community. Adopting a mode of dress oft used by members of the negotiable affection profession is being deemed to be cultural appropriation.

That’s not quite how people are telling the story but it is rather so:

There’s nothing wrong with wanting your outfit to stand out at prom. Whether you wear a dress that shows off your heroes or your culture, a little bit of creativity can go a long way.

But some people think Keziah Daum, an 18-year-old senior at Woods Cross High School in Woods Cross, Utah, went too far with her prom dress, which was a traditional Chinese cheongsam dress.

This produced the by now familiar spluttering. Insistences that as she wasn’t actually Chinese then and therefore she shouldn’t wear something that is traditionally Chinese. That in itself being something that’s a bit tricky really. For this to be so we’ve got to define what is Chinese. The cheongsam derives from Manchu dress, not Han, that being one little problem.

Another being that this specific form of cheongsam is a modern creation. 1920s Shanghai in fact, where it was popular among socialites and concubines – but I repeat myself. It’s as if we decided that spats could only be worn by the more daffy Englishmen.

My culture is NOT your goddam prom dress

Was one indignant complaint. He using traditional Chinese language and alphabet to make it of course. Which is rather the problem we’ve all got with this basic idea of cultural appropriation in the first place, isn’t it? There are very, very, few things which have been created, ab initio, by any one society or culture on this planet. We’ve, for example, three to five (it’s argued about) instances of the invention of agriculture, no more. A number of independent discoveries of iron, some societies not managing it at all. But the vast majority of less elemental technologies have been effected once and then spread. Simply because that’s how we do it, monkey see, monkey do. Or rather with humans, ape sees, ape does.

A high school senior is refusing to apologize after wearing a “beautiful” Chinese cheongsam to her prom.

Keziah Daum, 18, posted the photos to Twitter on April 22 and she has received backlash from thousands of people online calling her a “closes racist” and accusing her of cultural appropriation, Fox News reports.

Quite so honey, don’t apologise, tell ’em all to go boil their heads.

Otherwise we’re going to have certain problems with this picture, aren’t we?

Why’s the Chinese guy culturally appropriating the American style of dress?

That’s the traditional dress of white Europe and North America. The two button variant there is American, the suit being more general. It’s of about the same vintage as the modern version of the cheongsam. 1920s, perhaps just a little before. It clearly deriving from earlier forms, but it was either side of WWI that it tended to lose the tails and become what we today call the two piece suit – the waistcoat departed a little later than the tails.

And it is traditional, western, white, dress. For many of us it’s dragged out for weddings and funerals only – in Liverpool when accused of course – the great social gatherings of the clans. Just as with the tartan in Scotland or the rope of onions in France. Why’s the Chinese guy got a pass on culturally appropriating and we’re not allowed to?

The answer being that he’s got every right to dress as he damn well pleases and so does the 18 year old in Utah attending her prom. Otherwise the Irish part of me is going to claim cultural appropriation every time someone gets drunk. That’ll be £10 to me into Ulster Bank please every time you get a hangover.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. The Cultural Appropriation people who claim I am a “racist” (implying hatred of a race) because I adopt aspects of that race’s dress, or even enjoy rooting for baseball players wearing the caricature Chief Wahoo, have been pandered to so thoroughly and for so long that they are now completely spoiled. It is amazing that they don’t demand we buy them an ice cream every time they stub their toe.

    So what about all the props that the Earth’s tribal peoples owe white people, who deferred consumption so that innovators could advance the state of human knowledge, when their own forefathers were wandering after having killed all the food where they used to live, having shunned their own innovators and killed the unfashionable? What about everyone from Arabs to Russians desperate that visitors from America sell them a pair of Levi’s jeans from the suitcase? Nah, never mind giving us thanks. Just start making a bit of sense!

  2. Well, some people gotta’ fuss and this whole cultural appropriation thing gives them a chance to wax indignant. They ought to have paid the young lady for giving them the opportunity.

    Still, we should be proud of her for standing up to them. There’s a reason you’re born with a middle finger, and it needs occasional exercising.