Not a fashion faux pass: stop “stop appropriating my culture”


Infographic by: Avenlea Russian

Avenlea Russian

Drawing by: Avenlea Russian

It is that time of the year — Prom season. Dressing up for Prom is a fun way to show off your style at new heights. Every year, girls’ dresses get more and more unique.

Recently on the news, a white female in high school wore a traditional Chinese red dress to Prom, raising major controversy when an asian man’s tweet went viral because of the fact that she wasn’t asian. This leads one to a bigger theme — appropriating cultures.

Utah senior Keziah Daum wanted to find a dress that would stand out, according to The Washington Post. The Washington Post continued by saying Daum went to a vintage store where she came across a red cheongsam, also known as a qipao — the high-collared, form-fitting traditional Chinese dress.

After posting pictures in her new dress, like any other typical teenage girl after Prom would, a man named Jeremy Lam tweeted, “My culture is NOT your …. prom dress.”  This was followed by many more replies similar to that one.

“Woke Twitter” did it’s thing.

The cultural appropriation concept is kind of a sham. The idea that it is racist to incorporate fashion from another culture into your outfit is dull-witted and vapid.  

“In fashion, you play with all different mediums causing a wide range of cultures, that may have influenced you, to be represented in your style. Because today’s society is sensitive towards almost anything uncomfortable or questionable, people are quick to make drastic assumptions that may not be true,” commented senior Matthew Higby.

I agree with the idea of acknowledging everyone’s unique cultural differences, but I also think everyone should be able to try fashion trends and traditions of any culture they choose — not just their own. Of course, it should be respectful and have the right intention.

I own a kilt from Ireland and a pareo from Bora Bora. I don’t think me wearing those items makes me a sick and terrible racist. I just travel and happen to like fashion. This senior was not in the wrong, and “woke Twitter” harassed her for an invalid claim of racism, when she just wanted to look unique and pretty. You can pay homage to a culture and have fun with trying out new styles, without dubbing it with “cultural appropriation.”

“Clothes are just clothes,” said senior Daniel Dyke, “people wear what they want because they want to express how they feel or because they make them feel good about themselves… racism does not come from this.”

I’m not saying hippie white girls with dreadlocks is a fire look, but I am saying those girls are allowed to do what they want without getting backlash for it. Sophomore Jessica Johnson stated, “I think people should be able to [do] whatever they choose to, whether it is part of their culture or trying a style from another.”

Senior Damian Martinez said that it is “pretty cool” for clothes to have different cultural influences and that he “likes the fact that ‘minority’ clothing is being used in several different fashion styles.”

All things come from something else, you aren’t as OG as you think. If you look at the clothes you are wearing, I am sure that not all of it originated from the strict guideline of ONLY your cultural background. Taking concepts and fashion from other cultures is not only a compliment, but how we all have evolved over decades because of necessity. As Plato once said, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”    

Beyond a simple Prom dress, you can look at the even simpler pajama. Pajamas originated in India, Iran, Pakistan, and Bangladesh and were first used during the Ottoman Empire, according to Are you telling me everyone who wears pajamas and isn’t an Indian muslim is appropriating a culture? God no.

Or God forbid you sleep on Egyptian cotton!  

Sophomore Joey Smith believes that people should be able to “wear whatever they want, unless they are mocking someone because clothing is a way of expressing yourself.” He continued, “Just because it is from someone else’s culture doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be allowed to wear it.”

The basis of creative genius in fashion is from evolving traditional pieces from different cultures and making them modern and beautiful. Another example of why appropriation of cultures is a scam, a myth, a joke, etc., the 2018 Met Gala’s theme was officially, the Eucharist and unofficially by the title of the Costume Institute’s new exhibit, “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.” The Met Gala is an annual fundraising gala for the benefit of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York City. It marks the grand opening of the Costume Institute’s annual fashion exhibit. This event is loved and valued by the fashion industry. I dare you to protest against it!

While there, Rihanna, who is a successful singer, actress, businesswoman, fashion legend and overall icon, wore an extravagant Pope inspired piece, and no, it was not cultural appropriation — it was gorgeous.

So to all the people who like to be too sensitive and make everyone’s life more difficult, go ahead, appropriate my culture.