When Keziah Daum first saw in a vintage shop the red dress she ended up wearing to prom, she appreciated its elegance and "knew it was the one," she tells ABC News. Some research into the dress revealed it was a symbol of female empowerment and reinforced her decision. Daum then posted pictures on Twitter last month of herself wearing it to the event, and that's when things got messy for the 18-year-old Utah senior. A man IDed by BuzzFeed as 20-year-old University of Utah student Jeremy Lam, tore into Daum with his own tweet: "My culture is NOT your god---- prom dress." Daum's dress: a qipao, or cheongsam, a traditional Chinese dress that has some calling her out for cultural appropriation and what they say are offensive poses. "There's a long history behind the dress and white people are not a part of it," one commenter noted.
But not everyone agrees Daum should be slammed—including some observers in China, per the New York Times. "To Chinese, it's not sacred and it's not that meaningful," one Beijing blogger says. Others note the qipao's history (CNN has more on that) shows the dress may have been appropriated itself in China: A majority Chinese ethnic group appears to have adopted it from a minority one, and it was originally a baggy outfit worn by men; today, the skintight version is mostly worn by waitstaff and flight attendants or to fancy events like weddings. Lam tells BuzzFeed he's now being harassed after online sleuths found past tweets in which he used racially tinged language, which he's apologized for. As for Daum, she's not backing down. "I'm not deleting my post because I've done nothing but show my love for the culture," she said in a tweet. "It's a f---ing dress. And it's beautiful."