30 May 2018 by Christina Barker
After reading this story about a young girl in the USA wearing a traditional Chinese dress to her prom I am quite surprised at the divided opinions it has caused. It has started a huge debate on Twitter. Some say this has offended their culture and have asked her to take the photos down. Others say she looks amazing and not to worry about it.
In reply she wrote, "To everyone causing so much negativity: I mean no disrespect to the Chinese culture."
"I'm simply showing my appreciation to their culture. I'm not deleting my post because I've done nothing but show my love for the culture. It's a... dress. And it's beautiful."
In my opinion, I think she looks absolutely stunning and if she were my daughter I would be proud of her. It’s great that she is expressing an interest in another culture and because of this others will express an interest in Chinese culture so it can only be seen as a good thing in my eyes.
In this day and age, we should be able to wear what we want, with the exception of modesty of course! We can all follow a dress code at special occasions and events which can sometimes include dresses at a certain length, heels no higher than a certain height etc but it shouldn’t be in the rules that we aren’t to wear clothing from cultures other than our own. As long as we are respecting the culture, there should be no issue. The girl in question looks very elegant and is not mocking the Chinese culture in any way.
I once went on a trip to Africa for a friend’s 60th birthday party who lived in Ghana. I was asked to wear a long white traditional African dress and headdress, white being the colour to celebrate a birthday. If I didn’t wear one, they saw it as me being rude, so I went along with everyone else and had a dress made there, especially for the occasion. I even got my hair braided. I learnt a lot about African culture which was a fantastic opportunity. I can now use my experience to teach my children when they ask about other cultures. I think we should embrace this, if not for our sakes, for the sake of future generations.
This sort of attitude to wearing Chinese costume is a problem for us with our English-Mandarin bilingual books too. Many Chinese people don't know much about Chinese culture and their true history as they've been through the Cultural Revolution for 50 years. But, they are nearly always the people who criticise others for speaking Mandarin or wearing anything Chinese or writing Chinese.
As part of Snowflake Books’ team encouraging culture sharing and exchange in both the Far East and the West, we find this kind of attitude of criticising too hard on people from other cultures trying to experience Chinese culture with their own interests. This may be the problem to put people off learning about the culture. Some British people are interested in Chinese culture or Eastern culture but can't seem to source many good materials in the market for them to learn and appreciate the culture. However, from the news article, we can clearly see that some Chinese people are actually very close-minded when they see Westerners wear Chinese costumes or speak or write Chinese. Maybe the young lady in the US doesn't know much about Chinese history, but her love for the dress could be a good start for her to learn more about the Chinese culture and language. Maybe she would like to read some of our books?!
Do you agree we should embrace this or should we stick to our own cultures? We would love to hear your opinions in the comment section below.