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Miscellaneous > Is it wrong to wear a Chinese dress to Prom?

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message 1: by Robert (new)

Robert Smart | 359 comments You may or may not have seen this on Twitter or in the news threads, where a woman wore a Chinese dress to her Prom. This has sparked a lot of controversy over cultural appropriation, regarding a person of non Chinese heritage wearing a qipao, a traditional Chinese dress that has become a cultural symbol of Chinese female empowerment. There has also been accusations of racism acompanying this debate possibly due to the nature of the group photo that was taken.

Here is a link to the article which also gives a subsequent Twitter link in the article itself.

https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/teen-...

What are your thoughts on this or where do you all stand?


message 2: by Robert (new)

Robert Smart | 359 comments I will start by saying that I liken this to a person who is of a non Native/Indigenous decent deciding to wear an Indigenous head adornment or something to that affect when they don't know anything about the background of why and when it is worn or by whom and that it is also something that is NOT to be worn by someone outside of Indigenous culture.


message 3: by Krystal (new)

Krystal (crazylittlebookpage) | 55 comments Robert wrote: "I will start by saying that I liken this to a person who is of a non Native/Indigenous decent deciding to wear an Indigenous head adornment or something to that affect when they don't know anything..."

I definitely agree with this and I can totally understand why people were upset and telling her she was appropriating culture.


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Hello!

I understand that people can be upset. I must admit I am torn between the sacred symbol of a clothe (or even of a belief) and the tolerance and taste.

I think it is really important to respect the sacred character of religion, belief and everthing related to it. Myself, I do not believe in any religion (To me, whether there is the existence of one or several superiors enties or not will not affect my behaviour, I just do what seems to be right) but I respect my friend's religion, choices and belief. When I eat lunch with one of my close friend, I even wait him to finish his prayer before starting my lunch. The first time he saw me waiting, he told me "you do not need to wait" and I just replied "I know." . Clothes, tools may have deep meanings for people.
I do not really like when people do things because it is "fashionable" or because other people do it (maybe that is what fashion is). What is the point of doing so, apart for pretending to belong to a group, nobody needs to do like the other since we all have our own personnality. Sorry I am drifting away from the topic.

On the other hand, respect must go both ways. "I respect your belief and you respect mine" otherwise we create conflicts. However choices and tastes cannot be controled, if I like a color why I should not be allowed to use it. If I like a dish why should I not be allowed to prepare it and eat it even knowing that the dish is used for a sacred event in a specific culture? Is it the same for clothes? People will say, they are just tastes after all, sure, but to some people those "tastes" have meanings.

Are clothes that belongs to specific culture can't be used by someone who do not belongs to that culture?
Can't we say that one can honored a culture without belonging to that culture by wearing a clothe?

I have the feeling there is no answer, I would even say that the answer tightly depends on everyone's real motivation. Are we doing that just because it is cool and fashionable while not caring about anything than our own tastes or are our actions considering respect of other cultures while honoring their beauty?

Anyway, the aforementioned question is both really interesting and difficult :)

Have a good one!


message 5: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Conners-Townsend (hannahctownsend) | 1 comments Wow! I couldn't have said it better, Florian! I am also torn on the subject and while I don't believe in "reverse racism", restricting certain races or groups from wearing an article of clothing, just because it originated from a different racial group or culture, just doesn't seem right to me.
However, at the same time I feel like we SHOULD know what that clothing represents and respect it, especially if it is used in spiritual rituals. We shouldn't be disrespectful or wear things in a mocking way-- obviously! But some people do genuinely appreciate and admire other cultures and do research on the traditional clothing and how to wear them correctly and they wear things out of admiration.
I know there are good points from both sides of the argument and for me, personally, it's hard to choose.


message 6: by Ashwin (new)

Ashwin (ashiot) | 215 comments This is what happens when a society starts encouraging everyone to take offence at everything. Next people will say you can only eat a certain cuisine at certain time and place because it is symbolic of something in their culture. I really hope "mind your own business" becomes fashionable again!


message 7: by Michaela (new)

Michaela (yuvilee) | 124 comments I'm also a bit torn about this. I think there is a difference between if you wear something as a costume (which is often worn in a derogatory manner) for halloween or Karneval... or if you were it as something nice and special for a special occasion. At least i can see a dofference there, because it comes from another mindset. And i think sometimes the topic is taken too far, because i also saw some posts where people would call it cultural appropriation if aoneone wore any kind of clothing of another country, even though that clothe had no spiritual or religious meaning at all, but was just practical for the task at hand...

But i can never know how it feels, so i'm always hesitant to judge (and i can't read the article mentioned above so i don''t know about this particular case).


message 8: by [deleted user] (last edited May 02, 2018 05:50AM) (new)

Hello there!

@Keith: while I was reading the answers I thought what if I see someone with a nazi uniform in the street and then I clicked on the link you provided that show ceremonial clothes use in spain and later usef by the KKK. Two different meanings I guess. This is a really good point!

I would like to add an example where meanings are sometime given to a material thing. In some countries we can many national flags, in my country, France, if you see a french flag in front of a house, most of the french will think "are those people voting for FN (an right extreme party)?", this is stupid thought that I have sometime (do not like it though). Here I would like to point out that sometime we give meanings to objects but the meaning and the object itself are separated and different.
Maybe sometime we need to differentiate the meaning we feel for an object with the object itself otherwise we will be offended easily. Maybe wearing an object is not appropriating a culture but the considered person just do not care about the meaning and value of other people then it becomes a problem just like it becomes an issue if someone blame someone else for having a specific object.


"I understand your culture and belief and the sacred character of that object and I sincerely respect that."
"I understand you like or dislike this object, everyone has her/his own tastes, I understand you may want to wear without being disrespectful, and I respect that."

Maybe that is where tolerance, open-mindedness and mutual respect should lie.

Have a good day!


message 9: by Winston (new)

Winston | 180 comments I think this is two parts.

1) what is the historical context for the dress?

2) what is the intent of the wearer?

Everyone LOOOVVEEEsss being offended by something now-a-days. The Holier-than-thou criticism, particularly from the Left towards any perceived discriminatory slights.

People can be offended, sure. That's their right as well. I'm not sure how legitimate that offense-taken is if they aren't Chinese. And even then, if their immigrants or children of immigrants, how connected are they to their past. Not judging, just pointing out that without legitimacy, being offended is a personal problem more than a societal one.

The Dress is Chinese in origin, but it's simply a design. There wasn't special ceremony to the dress. Weibo, the Chinese social media site, does not care and is defending the girl. They like seeing their culture in America on a beautiful girl.

In China, it's a formal dress but it's also a school girl uniform design or a informal dress. It's just a design.


Second, she's not making fun of anyone. She's dressing up for the biggest event of her young life, Prom. She must honestly like the dress, thought it looked great [it does] and liked the modesty of the neckline. Perfect. Rock on girl. You shine as bright as you can, in Chinese red for good luck or Irish green for good luck or whatever the fuck you want.

Reminds me a lot about the Dreads controversy. Dreads are a natural human phenomenon for long hair. No culture owns dreads, and even if you want to make them "black" there's +50 countries in Africa with unique cultural backgrounds as well as everything that the displaced Africans have built in the Americas. Saying "Dreads are black culture" shows ignorance of the history of dreads and the history and culture of "black culture"

I hate this. This is PC culture. This is the fuck up that America is not supposed to be as a melting pot. Yeah, stuff comes from somewhere. No one's original anymore. But we're supposed to be authentic, and this girl is being authentic. She's not making fun of anyone. She's not disrespecting anyone. She's loving her self, and her self in the dress at her high school prom.


message 10: by Krystal (new)

Krystal (crazylittlebookpage) | 55 comments Uh yes she was disrespecting people. She and a group of people bowed like Chinese people would to royalty for a photo op while wearing a dress that is meant for women's empowerment.

Just because you can wear something doesn't mean you should. And people really need to stop saying that people are overly offended, that's their right. I come from a cultural background that white people like to steal and then think it's ok. IE: Wearing Indian Headdresses for Halloween, which are meant for traditional events and political meetings and to be worn my the Chief of the Tribe, not just anyone. Same with Moccasins and Mukluks, those are both traditional native wear meant for us to leave nothing but our footprints and protect our feet while hunting yet white people have bought them by the buttload because they're super cute yet they don't even understand the culture behind it. Understand that when you say that people don't have a right to be offended by something and they're too easily offended that's your privilege talking and you need to keep that in check.


message 11: by Winston (last edited May 02, 2018 11:48AM) (new)

Winston | 180 comments ~Krystal wrote: "Moccasins and Mukluks, those are both traditional native wear meant for us to leave nothing but our footprints and protect our feet while hunting "

Does this imply that you only wear your moccasins while hunting to respect your tradition? Or do you also never wear moccasins because it would be disrespectful to use traditional cultural wear in a nontraditional setting?


If it's my privilege to say people aren't offended, than it's your privilege to assume that they are.

I don't like the reasoning of "my culture" but I'm the first gen Chinese person. I'm not offended. A not-insignificant amount of Chinese people on social media aren't either. Who are you to tell us how we feel about our culture?

But that shouldn't be the issue. The issue is, is wearing things not in your traditional culture okay?

You seem to be saying no, though, I'm interest in your answer to your own classification of the use of Moccasins, above.

But I would counter that everyone is always borrowing from other cultures. It's a human culture. You can categorize it, and traditionalize it if you want. That's your right. But the modern, forward momentum will make it an amalgamation. That includes white people wearing Chinese dresses, Chinese people wearing kimonos, Japanese people developing a hiphop culture and everyone eating cuisine broadly.

EDIT: also, Chinese people do not bow like that. The Handprayer shape is nearly universal but also strongly associated with Hindu culture. So maybe don't jump at and dismiss me for my well thought out and researched opinion and just assuming it's privilege talking.

2nd EDIT: also. Still the only Chinese person in this thread. I don't think that gives me more weight on the issue, cuz I don't really think culture is limited to the people who created it. But do you think I'm owed more respect because of the common ethnicity and ancestral connection to dress or the culture in general?


message 12: by Krystal (last edited May 02, 2018 11:48AM) (new)

Krystal (crazylittlebookpage) | 55 comments Winston wrote: "~Krystal wrote: "Moccasins and Mukluks, those are both traditional native wear meant for us to leave nothing but our footprints and protect our feet while hunting "

Does this imply that you only w..."


I do not wear Moccasins or Mukluks unless I'm going to some place where a traditional native dress is required, like a powwow or a Raindance, as they are also used in these instances. I do respect the traditions of my culture because that's what I was taught while growing up, it was taught to us over and over again that we must respect not only our culture but other cultures around us. I eat sushi regularly but you'd never find me picking up a fork in order to do that, I learned how to eat with chopsticks in order to eat traditional Chinese meals I enjoy in a way that respects that culture. To the point that I have many different kinds of chopsticks and I know what each version and material that's used is supposed to be used for which kinds of dishes. I think there is a huge difference between dressing in someone's cultural garb and eating their foods because you respect the traditions behind them and doing it just because.

I hope that makes sense.


message 13: by Winston (last edited May 02, 2018 12:02PM) (new)

Winston | 180 comments ~Krystal wrote: "Winston wrote: "~Krystal wrote: " I eat sushi regularly but you'd never find me picking up a fork in order to do that, I learned how to eat with chopsticks in order to eat traditional Chinese meals I enjoy in a way that respects that culture."

Cool. Japanese people eat sushi. Lots of them with hands, which is how they would expect you to eat in an Omakase?

Chinese people generally lift bowls to face and use the chopsticks like shovels.

The length/shape difference between Korean, Japanese, Chinese chopsticks are all cultural based. Chinese ones are longer and rounder to share food, because we eat round table and serve each other with personal chopsticks.
Japanese use pointer and shorter, better to grasp fish.
Koreans use flat metal because it was cheaper than wood.



Look. I appreciate that you're learning about the cultures around you. That's cool, that's what we should all be doing. But what's the line you draw between knowing enough to use and not? Like what, I get to shame you for not knowing the difference between chopsticks? Or that if you sat down w my family you'd see bowls placed against our mouths, dumping food into our maws as fast as possible, not cramping our hands trying to pick up slippery food with two sticks?

Everyone ought to learn about other cultures sure, but experience is as much a teacher as book reading. And All of culture is meant to be shared. Respectfully, sure. But the poor girl is going to Prom, not a Halloween party. She loved the dress. She's allowed to wear it.


message 14: by Pam (last edited May 02, 2018 12:17PM) (new)

Pam | 1091 comments Mod
From Wikipedia:

The cheongsam is a body-hugging one-piece Chinese dress for women, also known as qipao.

Usually, people take the cheongsam as adapted from a one-piece dress of Manchu women in the Qing Dynasty. But debates on the origin of the cheongsam have never stopped in academic circles.

The third argument was raised by Bian Xiangyang (卞向阳) in his book An Analysis on the Origin of Qipao. Bian thinks that the cheongsam originates from neither the robe nor the chángpáo. It is an adaption of western-style dress during the Republic of China era when people were open to the western cultures. In his opinion, the cheongsam was a hybrid of traditional Chinese costumes and western costumes such as the waistcoat and one-piece dress.


My reaction is that:
a) this dress is not a religious or ritualistic symbol such as the bindi nor a tzitzit.
b) the function of the dress- specifically in this fabric - is to be worn at nice events. I.e. the girl was not using it to wash her dog or using it like a beach blanket
c) As others pointed it out, she wasn't using it to make fun of the culture itself. She was honoring it's legacy as being a stylish dress from the 1920's

I don't think this is cultural appropriation.


message 15: by Charlene (new)

Charlene Morris | 89 comments Another item to note is that schools impose stricter dress codes on young women, prom included in that.

I am going with if the school officials didn't see it as offending or distracting, then in that instance it is fine. If the school had a different cultural background where wearing a Chinese cultural dress could be constructed as offensive, then they would have asked her to leave.


message 16: by SamiJo (new)

SamiJo McQuiston | 3 comments It seems like the lines are so black and white here, and the reality is we live in a world of grey. You’re either not offended because you’re privileged, or you’re overly offended because you’re a special little snowflake. There are valid sides to both of these arguments, but the presentation could use a little work.
If you find this offensive, I think that in the spirit of tolerance, we need to acknowledge that things like this happen out of ignorance. The person or people are not intentionally out to offend anyone, in this case, they were probably just teens having fun, and had no idea that it could be construed as offensive...after all kids will be kids. Instead of attacking, we should be educating. We as humans tend to get mad or take a stance before we hear all sides of a story, which turns into ignorance on all of our parts.
If you are not offended, that’s cool too. You should make an effort to understand why other people are offended though. Everyone has their own boundaries and things they find offensive for different reasons. There’s no comprehensive list of what is acceptable to be offended for, because almost everything is offensive to someone. I think it’s better to try understand someone than just think they’re being uptight.
I personally subscribe to the idea that as long as it is not harming me or causing immeasurable harm to the world, it’s none of my business. If I don’t know the person, the circumstances, and I didn’t witness it first hand, then I probably have nothing of value to add to the situation.
Tolerance needs to be a two way street of always trying to understand each other. People are who they are for a million different reasons and they do what they do for just as many reasons. You don’t have to agree with anyone, but your opinions should not be so frigid that it closes you off.


message 17: by Pam (last edited May 02, 2018 01:29PM) (new)

Pam | 1091 comments Mod
Thanks SamiJo.

I would be interested in pivoting to a larger issue on cultural tourism and cultural appropriation and then assimilation.

Krystal you brought up a great point about your culture's Moccasins. And I also never paid attention to the numerous kinds of chopsticks when I'm eating sushi. So thank you Winston for the crash course -DFTBA.

One of the most confusing parts of cultural appropriation, I think, stems from tourism.

- Getting a Lei in Hawaii
- Purchasing native art
- Purchasing Amish crafts
- Travelling to Caraibean Islands

Is this the culture sharing their aspects with you or is this a menial form of economic slavery put on a marginalized people?

- Native Hawaiians, I'm told, hate tourists. Absolutely dislike having to put on a show. But it's also something that helps bring in money so many don't actually stop taking the job.
- Are we even allowed to purchase native art if we are not a descendant of that nationality?
- Does this touch on what Mailhot was describing in her comments about being a native writer. That she was trying to be a writer. Not a hyphenated writer pushed into a specific category.


message 18: by SamiJo (new)

SamiJo McQuiston | 3 comments Pam
I actually live on the Big Island of Hawaii. I am not a native, but I can tell you that tourists are not hated. There is a lot of poverty here and the tourists keep many in jobs. As long as the tourists are respectful of the culture and the Aina(land), everyone is welcome to visit. Like any place you should learn some of the customs. There are places it’s not polite to visit , like Waipi’o Valley, without an escort and invitation from an actual native. If you’re coming to someone’s home for a visit of any kind, you always bring a gift for their table. I have chickens, so I usually bring a dozen eggs.
Be a tourist! Visit here! Just check out some of the local customs first. The Hawaiian people really do have a wonderful Aloha spirit, but it’s also reserved for those who earn it.
There are a minority that really do not like any non-Hawaiians, unfortunately hate is everywhere, but the majority are really open and wonderful. If you have questions about the right way to go about things here, just ask someone, most everyone is happy to explain things to you, and will appreciate that you asked instead of assumed.


message 19: by Pam (last edited May 02, 2018 04:44PM) (new)

Pam | 1091 comments Mod
Thank you SamiJo! You are the first person I've met who lives there that has a different opinion.

I had a friend in highschool who lived there as a child and then my sister lives there while in the military. How much of what they experienced was part of their position in life?

I appreciate your counter point.


message 20: by Melaslithos (new)

Melaslithos | 14 comments I currently live in China, so I'll chip in on that. As mentionned previously, people here (at least the ones in my entourage) are not offended by that.

Even though qipao has been at time a symbol of women empowerement, here, most of the time, it's only be being seen as a fashion item. As mentionned previously, it's only a design. An depending on the fabric, embroideries, etc., can be worn for a variety of occasions.

I regularly wear a qipao to work (at least in the summer). My Chinese colleagues are always happy to see me wear one. From what I gather, they are happy to see their culture reaching out and other people interested in it, finding it beautiful (after all, there's a global trend in China of increasing their soft power. I guess it can be seen as part of that?).

I'll even expand the subject a bit. I'm pretty fond of all ethnic clothings here in China. There are so many of them, with beautiful clothing. Each time I find myself on a market somewhere trying to buy some of the local ethnic clothes, usually all the women will gather around, help me pick the right one, explain the significance of different details, etc. I have never seen anyone offended by that. I actually found it opened doors more than anything else. And for the people I managed to keep contact with, usually, they are really happy when I send them pictures of me wearing their clothing in Shanghai, or would ask me about it.

I do believe it would be different with religious item, or objects with a specific cultural significance (and I personnally stay clear of these), but it is not the case here.

After all, I believe no one is complaining in the West that for example Asians are wearing western suits? Or jeans?


message 21: by Pam (new)

Pam | 1091 comments Mod
Another article on this which touches on some of the points here: when is it culturally approved and when is it appropriation.

https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/02/opinio...


message 22: by Winston (last edited May 03, 2018 01:20PM) (new)

Winston | 180 comments Emma wrote: "Hannah wrote: "I don't really see the issue. I think 'cultural appropriation' is stupid and comments like that are very hypocrit.

One, saying that something belongs to your culture so therefore ot..."


Pam used these questions as an outline for her determination and I think they would apply broadly

a) this dress is not a religious or ritualistic symbol such as the bindi nor a tzitzit.
b) the function of the dress- specifically in this fabric - is to be worn at nice events. I.e. the girl was not using it to wash her dog or using it like a beach blanket
c) As others pointed it out, she wasn't using it to make fun of the culture itself. She was honoring it's legacy as being a stylish dress from the 1920's


They are similar to my questions poised at the beginning as well:
1) what is the historical context for the dress?

2) what is the intent of the wearer?


I think thinking about situations in these framing questions will get you about 80% to a good answer


message 23: by Benarji (new)

Benarji Anand | 153 comments A qipao is highly seductive and empowering for a woman. I don't see what's wrong here. Maybe just some Americans who aren't familiar with different cultures. Ah! Typical Americans thinking that the world only revolves around them.


message 24: by James (new)

James Corprew Hannah wrote: "But some people do genuinely appreciate and admire other cultures "

^ This all day everyday.

Even many in China are baffled to the outrage,

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/02/wo...

"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?”

Point is, there is a huge difference between mocking a culture and showing appreciation and admiration for it.

Ill go even further and point to martial arts legend Bruce Lee who early on was condemned by his country for teaching martial arts in America. But in reality Lee's philosophies of life and his teachings were a benefit not only to his own people but to people around the world.

While cultural appropriation happens it is not the boogeyman around every corner and sharing cultures is what helps bring people together, not divide them. The irony is one of the twitter users who verbally chastised the girl (Jeremy Lam was his name) was even called out for some of his racial slurs he used on his own twitter handle.


message 25: by Ashwin (new)

Ashwin (ashiot) | 215 comments Hannah wrote: "I don't really see the issue. I think 'cultural appropriation' is stupid and comments like that are very hypocrit.

One, saying that something belongs to your culture so therefore others can't wear..."


My thoughts exactly.

If a culture's self-esteem is glass-like such that even high frequency sound can shatter it, then probably they need to reinforce the glass rather than trying to mute soprano singing - and I say this not for this particular case, which James has pointed out was probably a troll and not a representative of a culture, but to all who take offence at every turn.

James wrote: "..."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..."

This is why everything on the social media needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Many of the people pretend to be representing some culture / organization / or movement but are in reality lone operators trying to get a rise out of others.


message 26: by Pam (last edited May 04, 2018 05:15AM) (new)

Pam | 1091 comments Mod
Ashwin wrote: "This is why everything on the social media needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Many of the people pretend to be representing some culture / organization / or movement but are in reality lone operators trying to get a rise out of others. ."

Agreed.

I don't know Jeremy Lam from anyone. He may be a representative of the community, but he was not elected as THE VOICE.

While social media offers us the voice of the people, we need to be careful that we do not take ONE voice to be the ONLY voice. No one person can speak for an entire community. They can only speak for themselves.

So thank you Winston and Melaslithos for being within the community and going back to the community for the community's thoughts on the matter. Social Media allowed us to take a quick poll from the larger group as opposed to one single person.


message 27: by Krystal (new)

Krystal (crazylittlebookpage) | 55 comments Pam wrote: "Ashwin wrote: "This is why everything on the social media needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Many of the people pretend to be representing some culture / organization / or movement but are in ..."

He wasn't the only Chinese person to voice his disgust though.


message 28: by [deleted user] (last edited May 04, 2018 03:11PM) (new)

Maybe my thought is naive but how this event, a prom, with a young woman wearing a dress became so much important and so public?
I am always so surprised when private and personal situations become everyone's business.

Let's put it that way, without knowing what happened the dress, the pose etc... Is anyone would have been offended? I do not think so, but now (please tell me if I wrong ;) ) people and media made it public and we have a public debate about something that should be, in that specific case, private. I am fine to discuss such topic but (i am not considering the OSS system) I wish that energy is focused on real problems and how to figure them out. Dang it! We have poverty, famine, pollution, real problems related to culture and belief, rascism, gender inequality etc... and some media talked about a dress? Seriously?! What a waste of energy. It makes me both sad and angry :'(

Here, I am not talking about the culture or sacred character of a culture or a belief ;)


message 29: by Pam (new)

Pam | 1091 comments Mod
~Krystal wrote: " He wasn't the only Chinese person to voice his disgust though. ."

Fair enough


message 30: by Amanda (new)

Amanda I wouldn’t do it. Unless there are zero other dress options because the mall burned down.


message 31: by Gerd (last edited May 05, 2018 11:20AM) (new)

Gerd | 428 comments Some of the arguments brought forth have me thinking:
"We should get offended by people wearing cowboy boots that don't work a farm." :D

It's a dress in my opinion, and a pretty sexy one at that.
I don't see why her neither being of Asian heritage, far as we can tell, nor wearing it to make a show of female empowerment, also as far as we can tell, should be cause for taking offense. But then I don't always get this "cultural approbiation" discussion tbh, isn't culture there to be shared first and foremost?


message 32: by Chelle (last edited May 05, 2018 12:39PM) (new)

Chelle I have so much to say on this matter... not only as an opinion but also as a social psychologist. However, I will keep it to a minimum.

I come from a large multi racial and multi cultural family.... most cultural traditions have evolved over time and borrowed from many others. None are unique to only them in a sense that they have remain unchanged. In fact, many people in China came out and spoke out against this happening and defending that beautiful young lady (not all, but many and the majority were in favor. Not all people will feel the same obviously).

If you pay attention to the history of that particular dress... you will learn that it is not actually from Chinese tradition in a historical sense. They actually migrated it into their lives from another (or as some would say now,appropriated. Which is ridiculous) it centuries ago and then in the 20's and 30's it was changed to a tight slim fit due to the "sexiness" of the Western influence. This dress is not a religious dress and it is not specific to a particular traditional ceremony of any kind. Also, for the folks saying she is being disrespectful for some sort of bow... no one in China understands this. That is certainly not what she is doing.

All cultures evolve from other cultures. So long as you do so with respect and dignity then there is no problem. However, when people start getting all defensive, offensive and acting irrational about it, it is showing deep rooted insecurities and inner guilt that those people have of their own. It has been proven over and over again that when people proudly wear clothing of other cultures in a respectful and beautiful manner, the culture that is native to that tradition feel honored as well as respectfully recognized.

Stop being offended over everything and putting words into the mouths of others. I think China did well speaking for themselves on this matter. They also seem to think the only issue here, is Americans trying to speak for them, be outraged for them and pretending they have any knowledge for their actual culture. I will not get into a pissing contest with anyone regarding the variety of the beautiful traditions of my varied cultures. I will only ask that people stop and think ... then be respectful and move on. I am a teacher and all of my students are in China... they think everyone reacting negatively about this as "utter morons", their words not mine.

I have a number of beautiful traditional Korean clothing (I am not Korean at all and they were given to me as gifts from Koreans while in Korea) and I will not apologize for it and I will wear them anytime I want and with pride.


message 33: by Melaslithos (new)

Melaslithos | 14 comments Just to add something more on this subject. My mother, which is Chinese (although a rather atypical one), do not like qipaos.

For her, it is not a traditional Chinese dress, but a Manchu one (which were "invaders" according to her). And it is not even an elegant dress for her, since it's too "sexy" and worn only by people who wants to attract attention (I'm actually using nicer words here than what she is using ;-p).

And she absolutely do not mind anyone else wearing the qipao for cultural reasons, since it has nothing to do with her culture anyways,. Although she does believe that culture is to be shared (she married a "foreigner" after all). She does mind for other reasons though (she doesn't approve of too tight fitted clothes in general - but that's a whole other debate).

PS: I just realized that my two comments might seem a bit contradictory. I'm am of mix descent, but by a whim of genetics, I do not look Chinese at all. People usually don't believe me when I say that I am half Chinese, which means that I mostly have a western experience and have always been considered as a Westerner by others. This is why I wrote my previous comment as a foreigner to China.


message 34: by Megan (new)

Megan Cheang | 97 comments I don't see anything wrong with wearing the dress to be honest. She didn't mean anything by it.


message 35: by nil (last edited May 06, 2018 08:01AM) (new)

nil (nilnil) Pam wrote: "From Wikipedia:

The cheongsam is a body-hugging one-piece Chinese dress for women, also known as qipao.

Usually, people take the cheongsam as adapted from a one-piece dress of Manchu women in t..."


I agree with a lot of the discussion along this line. However, I do think that posing for a photo and bowing in a way that Winston pointed out isn't even in a way that is related to Chinese culture shows a level of lack of knowledge and respect for any of the cultures that they are trying to participate in in their dress and pose. I think it is one thing to wear a garment because you think it is beautiful, especially to a formal event (which by nature is not making that garment into a costume, but treating it with respect as formal attire) but it is entirely another to mimic a culture for laffs and photo ops. That is just my two cents.


message 36: by Daphne (new)

Daphne | 6 comments I don’t mind her wearing the dress. I love how she is trying to dive into different cultures and feel aspects of other women and their lives. She looked great in it. However, it was wrong of her to mock the Chinese / Asian culture in the big group photos by putting your hands together. That is stereotyping. Asian don’t necessarily do that. I believe it became popular when Asian actors and martial arts came in Hollywood. The bow of respect is now mocked and is not directly related to the Asian culture. When she did that in the group photo, it was wrong and disrespects the Asian culture.


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