In Oklahoma, as prom season comes to an end, Isabella Aiukli finds herself in the teen vogue shining spotlight. Isabella didn't expect to be front and center of the U.S magazine that targeted teen girls called Vouge, but it did give her a wonderful opportunity to show her history and culture in her own unique and beautiful way. "I felt really good. It felt really good to represent my culture in my fashion," said Cornell. Bella explains that she chose the color red because it brings awareness to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women movement. It holds great importance. Though some girls choose glitz and glamour for their prom dress, Bella's dress holds great importance to her and the Choctaw tribe to whom she belongs to. Bella is also a Choctaw model and she has worked with lots of native Choctaw designers such as Jolonzo Goldtooth, Red Berrywoman, Lokata Sage. and the creator of Bella's dress, Della Bighair-Stump.
"I didn't"t expect it to get this big. I didn't expect it to be on Teen Vogue or make it to the independent," said Bighair-Stump. She has also done work with non-native designers. You can find the Choctaw teen featured in a mural on the side of a building near Northwest 37th Street and Western Avenue. But that's not Bellas only accomplishment, she has influenced many teens around the world and now they are taking her state of mind into consideration and are wearing dresses that have a significance to them and their culture. Not one but many girls are making their prom dresses from their culture, like this incredibly beautiful African- American dress. With her date sporting the same colors, these are a perfect pair.
Even though this is incredibly artistic not everyone has received this concept with open arms, it has caused some controversy. A senior high schooler in Utah is being called ¨closet racist¨ after she posted a picture of her and her friends on their big night, just because she wore a Chinese inspired dress. The girl's name is Keziah Daum she is 18 and her post that was captioned ¨prom¨ has gotten re-tweeted over 5,900 times and a lot of them were negative. As an example, one comment said ¨This isn’t ok. I wouldn’t wear traditional Korean, Japanese or any other traditional dress and I’m Asian. I wouldn’t wear traditional Irish or Swedish or Greek dress either. There’s a lot of history behind these clothes. Sad¨ and also "She is wearing a traditional dress that is reserved for special occasions and by her, a non-Chinese woman, thinking she is entitled to our culture, she is profiting (does not necessarily mean $$) from it. That is cultural appropriation. Cultural appropriation is racism." Even though the teen has gotten many comments like that, she has also gotten some beautiful tweets such as "Glad you wore the dress! You look fantastic!!! Being Asian I am not ostracized wearing green shamrock on March 17 or looked down upon waving the only flag I know- Old Glory- on July 4. #embraceDiversity (btw, love the shoes too 😊) — heli (@HeliSkiier) May 1, 2018
There where others too for example, "Hey! I'm Chinese and I live in China, I just want to say you look stunning in that dress, and pay no attention to those who say you shouldn't wear it because of some kind of "cultural appropriation", a lot of Chinese wear jeans and I didn't see anyone make a fuss about it!" — Willmore F (@Reaperxma) May 1, 2018
Story by Estrella Moreno-Maldonado