Here’s Why Katy Perry’s Sunflower Dress Is More Controversial Than You Think
Katy Perry's over-the-top costumes are something her fans have come to expect. They've been integral to her most unforgettable moments: Working that cupcake bra in the "California Gurls" video, performing as a human voting ballot at a 2012 Obama rally, and dancing alongside Super Bowl breakout star Left Shark earlier this year. But the outfit she wore during a Taiwan performance on Tuesday (April 28) sparked controversy for an unexpected — and politically complicated – reason.
The dress in question, a lime-green number covered in fabric sunflowers, has been in rotation since her Prismatic World Tour kicked off last year. But a number of Chinese Katycats — who call the pop star "Fruit Sister," as CNN reports — interpreted her outfit choice as a pointedly pro-Taiwan message.
As the Instagram photo above indicates, it seemed to some that Katy was referencing the Sunflower Student Movement, a youth-driven protest against a Taiwanese trade agreement with the People's Republic of China. In 2014, thousands of students occupied Chinese parliament for 24 days (think Occupy Wall Street, but on a much larger scale. With flowers). To concertgoers at the Taipei Arena, Katy's costume planted her firmly in the activists' side of the conflict.
This isn't the first time Katy's getups have courted controversy. Her geisha garb at the 2013 American Music Awards sparked accusations of racial appropriation, and Jezebel wasn't the only site that called out her FKA Twigs-esque cornrows with baby hairs in the "This Is How We Do" video. Her "Dark Horse" video offended Muslim groups with imagery that has since been scrubbed from the video, according to Spin. Katy hasn't issued a comment on the Taiwan controversy. But she has expressed her general irritation over "cultural appropriation" accusations in the past, telling Rolling Stone, "I guess I'll just stick to baseball and hot dogs, and that's it."
We're sure Katy didn't mean to step in the middle of a murky political situation, and to her — and her costume designers – a sunflower is just a sunflower. But given her history of pushing the envelope in a way that her critics deem "problematic," maybe she should consider adding a "Cultural Consultant" to her team. We're sure lots of internationally-savvy Katy fans would line up for the job.
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