Diverse Customer: The Dramatic Eye Rolling Moment: The Prom Dress, Qipao Vs the New Vultures of Cultures

Credit: Memory Tech/Michael Techmeyer/ AllTheMoms
This photo is not a prima facie case of cultural appropriation. It’s not just the Chinese culture to fold hands to pray or to greet. Many other cultures - Indian, Thai, and Balinese clasp their hands together and bend to greet people and to pray.

The argument in itself seems insidious. We all are indoctrinated and have no idea how deeply embedded we are in our culture and seeing others negatively reveals our own negative traits, beliefs and experiences in this case it’s the experience most likely:


Culture is not anyone's private property. If someone wants to appreciate your culture, be gracious and compliment.

The girl in question is culturally appropriate and culturally competent on the contrary. She is not being disrespectful. If we were to follow the argument and with this logic, if you aren't Hindu you can't do yoga? People ought to get their perspective right!

There are indeed people who have been treated differently and marginalized because of their culture and they were forced to align themselves with unconscious limiting beliefs of how their culture needs to be represented. This experience of discrimination fuels their behavior.

A false sense of entitlement to eagerly express one's ignorance and making it sound like it is okay in the spirit of open discussion reflects the ennui of one's own limitations and perhaps point out the culture appropriation that one may be perpetuating. This is a typical Pygmalion effect (albeit defined a myriad of different ways) where any perceived discriminatory behavior or treatment is met with the same level of dissonance and directed at other random people.

Often such blatant offensive and inconsistent behavior make such people less likely to see that their actions have serious real-world consequences. It’s a passive construction there is no active agent in their perception. In this case, becoming a sounding board for the entire culture and speaking for many Chinese-Americans is being too overconfident and zealous. It is a sweeping generalization.

Symbols of other cultures are always appreciated by those who get exposed to them. Wonder why the unnecessary psychoanalysis on the cultural significance of the garment on such motivations?

It’s not like the girl claimed to have invented the qipao. 

We've had decades of only elite opinion-makers being heard and now social media has ushered in a free for all platform where anyone can have their voice heard. 

Between the haze of self-entitled culture custodianship and looking at their own culture with rose-tinted glasses and looking with disdain at others who borrow a piece of that culture and not expecting them to blend in their own way is wrong. But again that is my opinion and I respect Jeremy Lam's point of view. 

Issues like these are good. Because they bring to light the power to democratize in comprehending differences between cultural appropriation and culture appreciation. 

People take pleasure in noticing flaws in others and judging their lives as black or white, good or bad. The fact is we all live in the shades of grey. This understanding offers immediate food for thought that seems to make the more reflective of us consider our own contributions, opinions, and judgments more carefully.

A Note on Cultural Appropriation

One of the largest segment of customers I work with is the BAME. It is very important to stress to the BAME customers that my clients are not exploiting black culture purely for financial benefit. This is because many individuals in this demographic feel as if society, big brands, and celebrities cut and commercialize pieces of black culture for white consumption. Many times, it appears as if black culture is appreciated more than the individuals. Although diversity leads to innovation, creativity, and better products and marketing it is important to avoid cultural appropriation. 

This should be sufficient to understand the context :)

-Amit Anand