Talking Points: is wearing clothes from a different culture appropriation or appreciation? [Part.2]

Talking Points: is wearing clothes from a different culture appropriation or appreciation? [Part.2]


Selena Gomez has been accused of appropriating Indian culture in the past.

Christine Ling, 14, German Swiss International School 

The Cheongsam is a symbolic part of Chinese history and has represented the Chinese identity for centuries. Although Keziah Daum's choice of outfit has sparked a lot of controversy online, I firmly believe that her initial intention was for it to be an act of cultural appreciation. There are always two sides to a story. Daum is just an average girl wanting to attend prom in a stunning dress, only for anonymous trolls to attack her.

For Daum, wearing a cheongsam is probably nothing too significant, as there was no harm intended and for Americans, it is normal to adopt the cultures of other countries. On the other end of the spectrum are the ethnically Chinese supporters that are defending their culture to the most extreme measures. But they should take into account that Daum is a normal girl that just thought that the cheongsam was a gorgeous piece of clothing. 

Abhay Venkitaraman, 14, King George V School 

I really don't see why people are making a big deal about this. The person in question was just wearing something that she wanted to wear, probably because she thought it looked good. I don't see how cultural appropriation has anything to do with this.

If Caucasian people can only wear “Western clothing”, that's like saying that I should only wear Indian clothing because I'm Indian. If I wear a suit and tie to work, am I insulting people in the West? Is that cultural appropriation? Of course not!

Also, if the person in question can't wear a cheongsam, then that is a limit on freedom of expression, and it discourages people from preaching the values of multiculturalism and diversity. Discouraging these values will only lead to more problems in terms of xenophobia or racism, the complete opposite outcome of what some of these people want.

Honestly, I believe in political correctness to a certain extent. But this isn't political correctness. This is suppression. People can wear whatever they want!

Talking Points: is wearing clothes from a different culture appropriation or appreciation?

Rebecca Wong, 17, International Christian School

Nowadays, people are exposed to more and more different cultures. Although wearing clothes from different cultures may be a nice way to recognise them, it is important to be aware of the history behind the attire. Culture appropriation occurs when people wear cultural clothing solely for fashion purposes, ignoring the background of the clothes. When whites wear dreadlocks, it is considered "fashionable", but when black people wear them, they may be mocked for being trashy. Wearing clothes from different cultures is not always cultural appropriation, but one should be respectful and knowledgeable about the culture for it to be cultural appreciation.

Ady Lam, 13, Island School

If I saw a foreigner wearing traditional Chinese clothes, I would see that as cultural appreciation. But if you oppose it, you give the impression that you think your culture is too good for others to experience. If we want harmony in our world, we shouldn’t snub other people’s culture or criticise someone for appreciating our own.

Edited by Jamie Lam


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