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This Teen Wore A Traditional Chinese Dress To Prom And Caused A Huge Controversy

"I simply found a beautiful, modest gown and chose to wear it," Keziah Daum told BuzzFeed News.

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Updated on
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After Daum shared her photos to Twitter, it was quote-tweeted by Jeremy Lam, a 20-year-old student at the University of Utah, who accused her of cultural appropriation.

Twitter: @jere_bare

Lam told BuzzFeed News that he decided to call out Daum's tweet because "racism against Asian-Americans is often pushed to the side" and that he wanted to get the message out that he believed it was a form of cultural appropriation.

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As the debate continued, Daum tweeted that she was just showing her "appreciation to their culture" and that she would not be deleting her post because she has "done nothing but show my love for the culture."

Twitter: @daumkeziah

Daum said that she had researched the history of the dress after purchasing it, and "one comment about it really stuck with her: 'female empowerment.'"

"If that is the case, then such a gown sends a beautiful message for young women everywhere," she said. "If we are teaching women to be strong, does it matter which culture it is coming from?"

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People then began to target Lam and dug up old tweets of his that showed him using racially insensitive language.

Several of the tweets calling Lam out for being a "closet racist" and for "fake outrage" went viral, which prompted Lam to delete the tweets.

Fake Outrage defined in 2 screenshots

Lam said he wasn't going to deny using the N-word and other insensitive slurs when he was younger, adding that he only deleted the tweets because he "didn't want the powerful and violent language to define how I am now."

"I absolutely didn't know better at the time, and I didn't know those words had so much historical background to them," he said.

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"I owned up to my mistake. I publicly announced that I wasn't the best person at that age, and that I'm so, so, so sorry to those I have hurt," he said, adding that he would have liked to have seen Daum do the same, "instead of calling a key piece of Chinese culture, 'just a fucking dress.'"

Lam said that after Lahren and conservative commentator Ben Shapiro tweeted in support of Daum, he and his family started receiving threats. Lam said he has been targeted with racial slurs and that he is now "terrified to walk out of his own house."

"I never imagined a simple rite of passage such as a prom would cause a discussion reaching many parts of the world," Daum said. "Perhaps it is an important discussion we need to have."

She said she was worried that she had caused offense, but that her intent was never to anger anyone.

"I simply found a beautiful, modest gown and chose to wear it," she said.

UPDATE

This post was updated with an interview with Lam.

Kassy Cho is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Kassy Cho at kassy.cho@buzzfeed.com.

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