Influencer Sparks Outrage, Wears Cultural Outfit — Without Pants

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An influencer with many millions of followers on social media decided to post pics wearing a traditional cultural outfit. However, she sparked a considerable backlash for wearing the clothing  — without any pants.

Siew Pui Yi
Siew Pui Yi (Photo Credit: Instagram)

Siew Pui Yi, who has millions of Instagram and Facebook followers, sparked outrage after uploading multiple photos of herself wearing traditional Vietnamese clothing, which is called Ao Dai. The Malaysian model was called out for not wearing the “long-flared” slacks that go with the tunic top.

The model’s thong is plainly visible in photographs taken within the historic Vietnamese town of Hoi An as she releases a paper lantern on the Hoai River, which is a traditional ceremony representing a plea for peace, according to Yahoo News. After the photographs went viral, the Vietnamese community reacted quickly.

Siew Pui Yi
Siew Pui Yi wearing the Ao Dai without any pants (Credit: Screenshots)

According to reports, the photos drew varied reactions, with many Vietnamese netizens calling them “immodest” and “disrespectful” and pleading with the Malaysian influencer to remove them. “Modern sexy is not wrong, but you are wrong to take the Ao Dai, the national dress of Vietnam, I absolutely do not accept it. I think you should delete this photo, Vietnamese people will be very angry because of this,” a Facebook user commented.

“We welcome international friends to come and wear this national costume,” another user wrote, adding that Ao Dai is the traditional costume of the women of Vietnam. “But your style really doesn’t match the national costume. I hope you can take down the post and apologize to us for disrespecting this country’s culture.”


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A post shared by Siew Pui Yi 🤍 (@ms_puiyi)

According to Tong Quoc Hung, head of Hoi An’s Culture and Information Department, local authorities were attempting to educate Siew Pui Yi about Vietnamese culture and traditional customs. “The female tourist revealing her underwear in the ancient town of Hoi An is offensive,” said Hung, adding that Hoi An culture has not allowed it for a long time. “The image of the female tourist does not match the customs and habits of the people here,” Hung added.

Siew Pui Yi removed the photos, but not before screenshots of them went viral on the internet. The social media star apologized on Facebook in Vietnamese, English, and Chinese. “To my recent travel to Vietnam, there was a posting of mine that truly upset the people, and I deeply and sincerely apologize for my actions/content and the disrespect to the traditional culture of Vietnam, to which I have now taken down,” she wrote.


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A post shared by Siew Pui Yi 🤍 (@ms_puiyi)

“I have read everyone’s comments carefully,” the Malaysian influencer added. “I will really absorb everyone’s remarks and will keep them in mind going forward. Thank you for teaching me this valuable lesson. I do hope to have another opportunity to be back in Vietnam and of course, take a different approach to shooting my content! I apologize once again, and will be more sensitive to the local cultures all over the world.”

One fan responded to her apology, writing, “There is no need to apologize for not harming anyone, just remember the next time you go to the country to find out the culture of the country, otherwise the people will be upset.” Another wrote, “Thank you sister for quickly apologizing and learning experience about our Vietnamese cultural tradition. Vietnam hopes to be chosen as an annual tourist destination.”

Country singer Kacey Musgraves also received backlash after posting photos on Instagram wearing a traditional Vietnamese Ao Dai dress without the long flared pants (Credit: Screenshot)

According to VN Express, this is not the first time celebrities have sparked widespread outrage in Vietnam by wearing traditional Vietnamese attire with cultural faux pas. In 2019, American country artist Kacey Musgraves received a similar reaction. Musgraves was chastised for wearing a traditional Vietnamese garment in an unsuitable manner for a concert in Dallas, Texas.

Musgraves wore an Ao Dai, which is a form-fitting Vietnamese tunic with deep slits up both sides that is generally worn over long flowing slacks, CNN reported. However, the singer appeared to forego her pants entirely, posting multiple photographs on Instagram that revealed her uncovered hips and legs. Cultural appropriation criticism erupted fast, with social media users accusing her of disrespecting a culturally and historically significant piece of clothing.