American country singer Kacey Musgraves is being blasted by many in the Asian American community for not just appropriating Vietnamese culture by donning their traditional clothing, but for the blatant disrespect of sexualizing the áo dài, which is meant to be worn with pants.
The executive director of the Vietnam Heritage Center in New York City, Thuy Pham, was quoted as saying, “The sexualization of it was disgusting. It was for shock value, it was annoying, and it was a misappropriation of Vietnamese culture.”
The singer, who is white, paired the áo dài with an accessory that appeared to be a maang tikka, an Indian wedding headpiece.
also what is that headpiece? she is really just putting random shit together to look exotic
— claire trần (@clairevtran) October 12, 2019
Her decision to mix-and-match traditional attire from different countries led to further outrage, with netizens mocking her for appropriating culture from across Asia.
Imagine having the chance of wearing traditional clothing and learning about another culture in the process but instead you decide to butcher the outfit to make it into a sexy costume for your show and instagram shoot. Pathetic.
—Reddit user gorlplea
Leading the criticism against the singer was Vietnamese American beauty guru and businesswoman Michelle Phan, who was appalled by the continued fetishism of Asian women. In a statement posted to her Instastories, Michelle said, “But Forreal, I’m sure there wasn’t intention of causing harm, but people are just tired of narratives that perpetuates the fetishism of asian women.”
She continued, “My intention of spotlighting this issue was to spread awareness, not shame. Imagine seeing your national traditional dress being disrespected on stage. Since she’s a public figure, she might influence more people to think it’s trendy. I understand people have the right to wear whatever they want, but it goes both ways. People also have the right to their own opinion.”
This isn’t Kacey’s first time appropriating Asian culture, as she previously shared a retro-feeling promotional poster featured Asian-inspired typography and her name written in Japanese using katakana.
— K A C E Y M U S G R A V E S (@KaceyMusgraves) October 11, 2019
What do you think about Kacey’s choices? How do they make you feel?