Kacey Musgraves is being called out for ‘cultural appropriation’ as critics slam her for degrading Vietnamese culture by ‘sexualizing’ a traditional garment.
The 31-year-old country singer, who is white, stepped on stage at her concert in Dallas, Texas, last week wearing only the top of part of an áo dài — a two-piece Vietnamese outfit that consists of a tight-fitting silk tunic worn over trousers.
Musgraves posted racy photos of herself wearing the tunic sans pants on her Instagram Story, prompting a swift backlash from Vietnamese Americans, including YouTube star Michelle Phan.
Controversy: Kacey Musgraves, 31, is facing fierce backlash for wearing only the top of part of an áo dài, a traditional Vietnamese garment
Scandalous: The country singer posted racy photos of herself wearing just the tunic and what looked like a sparkling thong on her Instagram Story
Taking it to the public: Musgraves wore the controversial look on stage at her concert in Dallas, Texas, last week
The controversial images revealed that her tunic was cut up to her waist, and she appeared to be wearing nothing more than a sparkly thong underneath.
The performer showed a great deal of her hip and leg as she posed suggestively with her legs spread open in a few of the pictures.
Phan drew attention to the problematic look and the fetishization of Asian women with a series of posts shared on her Instagram Story, though she never explicitly named Musgraves
‘Imagine seeing your national traditional dress being disrespected onstage. Since she’s a public figure, she might influence more people to think it’s trendy,’ the beauty influencer wrote.
How it should be worn: An áo dài is a two-piece Vietnamese outfit that consists of a tight-fitting silk tunic worn over trousers
Behind the scenes: Not only did Musgraves go pantsless, but she also showed a great deal of her hip and leg as she posed suggestively in the outfit
‘But for real, I’m sure there was no intention of causing harm, but people are just tired of narratives that perpetuates the fetishism of Asian women.’
Fans quickly realized that Phan was referring to Musgraves in her post.
‘Basically, some of Michelle’s Vietnamese followers sent her photos of Kacey Musgraves wearing an ao dai without pants on. This is a traditional outfit and Michelle posted, “I understand the desire to look sexy. I get it. But you can be creative without appropriating cultural traditions,”‘ one Reddit user explained.
Outraged Twitter users stressed that Musgraves was not only guilty of cultural appropriation, but she also sexualized an outfit that is meant to be dignified.
Call out: Vietnamese Americans YouTube star Michelle Phan drew attention to the problematic look and the fetishization of Asian women with a series of posts shared on her Instagram Story
Figured it out: Phan didn’t explicitly name Musgraves at first, but fans quickly realized she was referring to the singer in her post
Angry: Outraged Twitter users stressed that Musgraves was not only guilty of cultural appropriation, but she also sexualized an outfit that is meant to be dignified
‘If you wanna bring Ao Dai on stage. Fine. But do not sexualize it by not putting the f*****g pants on,’ one person tweeted.
‘This is absolutely disrespectful and degrading. Do you even know what you’re wearing? #educateyourself please.’
‘It’s disappointing to see the beautiful Vietnamese áo dài worn like this. It’s meant to be worn with the pants. Personally, I don’t mind you wearing áo dài but please show my culture respect by wearing it correctly,’ another person commented.
‘Áo Dài is the representation of the idea “women do not need to show skin to look pretty,”‘ someone else explained. ‘You’re doing the OPPOSITE of what this outfit was made for.’
All wrong: The singer was also criticized for wearing jewelry on her forehead that resembled a maang tikka, a traditional Indian bridal headpiece
Critics also called out Musgraves for wearing jewelry on her forehead that resembled a maang tikka, a traditional Indian bridal headpiece, explaining that the mixing of cultures made her outfit choice even more problematic.
‘Kacey Musgraves is an incredible human, but the self-awareness in this is lacking to say the least. The nature of white ppl to pick and choose (half of ao dai and whatever is on her head??) pieces of Asian culture honestly repulses me,’ one person wrote.
‘She really just played a game of pick and choose with cultures, like, hi can I have an order of an áo dài (Vietnamese formal wear) with no pants, also a side of a South Asian headpiece bc why not, just lookin like an odd subway sandwich order, no sense of reason or regard,’ someone else griped.
Musgraves has yet to comment on the controversy, though she has continued to post on Instagram Stories.