Kyemah McEntyre Dress Breaks The Internet: Self-Designed Prom Gown Helps Bullied Teen Get Her Message Across

June 11, 2015 | By Garrett Montgomery More

Kyemah McEntyre dons a dress inspired by her African heritage to prom and ends up prom queen, a style icon, and a voice for bullied teens all the same night. McEntyre has also sparked an intense debate about whether black women should pay homage to their culture by having natural hair or by wearing clothes made from African fabric.

Kyemah McEntyre dress

Kyemah McEntyre‘s dress has managed to break the Internet. Kyemah McEntyre is an 18-year-old student from Cecily Tyson School of Performing Arts in East Orange, New Jersey, who is deep into Afrocentrism, which can:

“be seen as an African-American inspired ideology that manifests an affirmation of themselves in a Eurocentric-dominated society, commonly by conceptualizing a glorified heritage in terms of distinctly African, foreign origins (where foreign is anything not indigenous to the African continent). It often denies or minimizes European cultural influences while accenting historical African civilizations that independently accomplished a significant level of cultural and technological development.”

Because she decided to endorse her African roots by having an Afro and wearing African-inspired jewelry, she was often bullied and mocked. For senior prom, she designed her own Afro-centric prom dress, which featured a V-neck, Asoebi designs with African print.

The dress killed the competition, earned her the prom queen title and went on to break the Internet with hundreds of likes. Kemah McEntyre, who is also a painter, shared numerous pictures of her stunning dress and explained:

“This is for always being labeled as, “ugly” or “angry”. Thank God, stereotypes are just opinions. – Kyemah McEntyre.”

McEntyre, who will be attending Parsons School of Design in September, also shared a lengthy post explaining why she decided to design her own dress.

“I’m Kyemah McEntyre, I am 18 years old and I am undoubtedly of African Descent. As an artist I have a completely different point of view compared to most individuals. I am extremely analytical and observant. Throughout the world, we have people who do not notice each others essence and humanity. We Stunt our collective spiritual growth by allowing assumptions and stereotypes to cloud our mind and thus our physical reality. We let these negative ideas get the best of us, and in turn a world of isolation is manifested by our lack of sensitivity and desire to sympathize with each other. This results in a world in which people live within the confines of their own space, isolated from each other and separated from the rest of the world.Sometimes we get trapped in our own prejudice ways. We don’t notice how the idea of a particular type of person changes the way we live our lives.”

She went on to say:

“The most creative people are the ones who step out of their comfort zone and take advantage of the world around them. My abilities as an artist allows me to experience the benefits that versatility fosters. Being exposed to all kinds of people and cultures is the muse for my artwork. I am an aspiring artist who is very passionate about the connection between art and the world. I believe that in order for society to gain a wider horizon, we have to be willing to acknowledge other people from differences, beliefs, morals, and values. I would like to take this moment to say that you have to understand who you are because if you leave that space open, you leave your identity in the hands of society. Don’t let anyone define you. Beautiful things happen when you take pride in yourself. #blackgirlsrock #kyebreaktheinternet.”

A majority of people are praising Kyemah McEntyre for her dress, while others want her to accept the fact that she is American, not African, and she needs to look at the future, not the past. One commentator blasted her saying:

“While it’s a worthy goal to engage in self discovery, tracing back centuries and centuries to a land you are far removed from doesn’t seem to be the place to find yourself or to give meaning and justification to the black person you are today. It’s been hundreds of years, one would think at some point a given people will cultivate some sense of self that isn’t entirely toxic, self sabotaging or pretentious. It isn’t one extreme or the other.”

Another one added:

“I see non–AA blacks get dragged all the time for appropriating AA culture (like AAVE). African americans have created their own culture witj all their various music genres, hip hop, etc. Her use of the fabric isn’t approprition but acting like he did something revoulutionary as saying Iggy Azalea is revolutionary.”

What are your thoughts on Kyemah McEntyre’s dress?

https://instagram.com/p/3oXCPtiEJv/

https://instagram.com/p/3mlfL3CEGF/

Let me introduce to you this young EMPOWERED Queen…I just can't even find the words for her so I'll let her own do the talking. I’m Kyemah McEntyre, I am 18 years old, and I am undoubtedly of African Descent. (@MindOfKye) As an artist, I have a completely different point of view compared to most individuals. I am extremely analytical and observant. Throughout the world, we have people who do not notice each other’s essence and humanity. We stunt our collective spiritual growth by allowing assumptions and stereotypes to cloud our mind and thus our physical reality. We let these negative ideas get the best of us, and in turn a world of isolation is manifested by our lack of sensitivity and desire to sympathize with each other. This results in a world in which people live within the confines of their own space, isolated from each other and separated from the rest of the world. Sometimes we get trapped in our own prejudice ways. We don’t notice how the idea of a particular type of person changes the way we live our lives. The most creative people are the ones who step out of their comfort zone and take advantage of the world around them. My abilities as an artist allow me to experience the benefits that versatility fosters. Being exposed to all kinds of people and cultures is the muse for my artwork. I am an aspiring artist who is very passionate about the connection between art and the world. I believe that in order for society to gain a wider horizon, we have to be willing to acknowledge other people from differences, beliefs, morals, and values. I would like to take this moment to say that you have to understand who you are because if you leave that space open, you leave your identity in the hands of society. Don’t let anyone define you. Beautiful things happen when you take pride in yourself. #blackgirlsrock #kyebreaktheinternet #DrCoily #DrCoilyQuotes #naturallybeautiful #natural #naturalhaircommunity #naturalHairRocks #naturalcoils #4cnaturalhairchicks #curlsandfro #coilsandcurls #curlsandcoils #curlsfordays #naturalfro #NaturalHair #twistouts #twistout #EmpoweringGirls #naturalhair #4chairchicks

A photo posted by Dr. Coily, DO (@doctorcoily) on

https://instagram.com/p/3juCPDiEE3/

https://instagram.com/p/3hj1TKiEL6/

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    1. Darell W says:

      She looks amazing. She needs to work for Beyonce or Rihanna ASAP.

      • Sharon L says:

        Why work for them…She needs to work for herself.

        • Diana L. says:

          I think she looks absolutely beautiful. Her family should be proud of her. She has a future in design and color. God bless you!!!

    2. sARAH J says:

      Kyemah McEntyre is the definition of flawless, she slayed it and she has the brains to go with the looks.
      We will see her work on the red carpet one day soon. All the best to this young woman.

    3. Nigerian goddess says:

      She did an amazing job, but sorry to say that this girl did not invent the light because women back home make dresses like that all the time – they show less cleavage. She was on the internet and found few ideas on line from other African designers and hired a seamstress to make a gown – what is so great about that?

      • Marcie says:

        Yes, women “back home”. Her PROM dress was inspired because of her heritage, it wasn’t meant to be a replica of anything, none the less, it is still a prom dress, most are a little revealing. The making and designing of the dress isn’t necessarily what stands out, she is only 18 and has already discovered who she wants to be some people go their entire lives not knowing or acknowledging who they are. As she said “Don’t let anyone define you. Beautiful things happen when you take pride in yourself”

      • Sandra says:

        What is so great about it is the fact that she did not let the bullies win. Okay so she found ideas on line and hired a seamstress; the fact that she stood up for what she believed in makes it awesome. And Nigerian goddess you said ” woman back home make dresses like that all the time”. Okay that’s back home but how many times do you see them being made here? Not very often which is the whole point. She is proud of her heritage and is not afraid to show it. She did not “give in” to what others considered appropriate.

      • CharInOhio says:

        White girl here , but do love the dress !!! 🙂 Although, I am not sure WHAT prom she attended but most I have been to , or known of …..would NEVER allow the type dresses I see there in the pictures of the girls ? Those dresses show a bit too much for a prom honestly ….

        • Black Woman Here says:

          White girl!! You are hilarious!! I absolutely love the dress and admire the young ladie’s courage and creativity, but I’m with you. Maybe it’s my age, but I do think all of the dresses show a little much for a prom. Young girls today like to rush things. They have plenty of time in life to show their valuables to the world, if that’s what they aspire to.

          • Jill Latham says:

            I absolutely think she’s beautiful. But you all are right. There have been quite a few news stories about girls being sent home because their dresses were too revealing. But she’s going to a Performing Arts school so maybe that’s different. I cannot believe that commentator talking about leaving roots behind. Why? She’s proud of her heritage. Why not show that? Kind of like blocking history out of your mind. Guess what? Doomed to repeat it, and all that… which I truly believe.

          • Kat says:

            I’m surprised she was allowed into prom with that much cleavage showing. I’ve read news reports of other girls being turned away for showing a lot less than this young lady but I do agree that she looks fantastic in it!

    4. Cleveland Kincaid says:

      She is a very gorgeous young lady in her own creation. Way to go for doing what yoiu think is right and what so many are afraid to do. Keep up with your heritage always and don’t let anyone stop you from doing what you think is right.

    5. June says:

      Simply stunning. She needs to be at the MET next year. Love the hair too. And her date was on fleek. lol

    6. Chanelle says:

      Kyemah McEntyre is a brilliant young woman who decided to think outside of the box. And she is right to have an afro and wear African clothes if she wants to. Why should she perm her hair to look like the white woman, why wear garments that are made for Europeans? Be you and be free. I wish her much success in life.

    7. uncle tom says:

      So when a group of white of people from the south talk about their heritage they are called racist, but if blacks say the same about their roots they are applauded? I’m so confused.

    8. Kim Clark says:

      Wow…not only is her gown beautiful, she’s beautiful, too. What an impressive young lady!

    9. Paul says:

      While the dress is certainly gorgeous as is her hairstyle and figure, I do wonder if it’s common for woman in Africa to wear such a plunging neckline thought that too is very flattering..

    10. Lester says:

      Too much boobs, she is too young.

      • Micki says:

        I was thinking the same thing. She would have looked perfect if she hadn’t unnecessarily exposed herself like that.

        • Shauntelle says:

          Exactly my thoughts.

          • casey says:

            what prom could she have gone to in that schools have a moral contract and that is not some thing a teenager at a prom should wear I think the whole story is made up

        • carol says:

          If she is displaying her culture, she is covered quite well.
          Tribes in Africa expose far more than she does. Most women in the tribes are topless.

      • Paul says:

        Boobs were quite nice….for a 25 year old to show, yet as I just wrote, I wonder where in Africa a teen dresses like that, but maybe

    11. Florida Al says:

      Absolutely stunning!!!!!

    12. Thelma says:

      I don’t get the person who compared her to Iggy Izalea? Iggy is a white AUSTRALIAN who got fake butt implants, dates only black guys and raps with a fake hood accent. Kyemah LOOKS african and is of african descent. To say that she ISNT African enough due to slavery’s middle passage, is like saying that the chinese babies who were stolen from chinese peasants to feed the market of white Americans and Europeans looking to adopt asian babies- are NOT Asian anymore and should forget it.

    13. Andrea says:

      She looks absolutely beautiful, however for a high school prom, dress should have been less revealing.

      • Toni says:

        I think the dress is beautiful as is she…but…this dress is not appropriate for a young woman to wear to the prom…TOO REVEALING! I would not want my daughter wearing this to her prom.

      • Ellen says:

        I totally agree with your view of the situation and add that she obviously is strong and intelligent. If she is all about her roots as an African then she should pursue it, just remembering that she is also a Black American and she could do so much in the areas of Black rights and empowerment right here in the states. She can be a strong “Black” role model for so many young girls that deal with the same issues she is going through!

    14. Precious says:

      Does she make wedding dresses?

    15. Boop says:

      I give credit when credit is due; she looks very nice and if she designed that gown- it is beautiful, however, for a high school prom the neckline is a little too much; But she looks beautiful and did a great job.

    16. Clarita C says:

      For an 18-year-old those were some powerful words, that will help others who were bullied and teased for their unique personalities.
      Your uniqueness is inspiring and you should use it to better the world at any level. Be Proud, be afrocentric, be gay, be trans, be white with ginger hair be happy and be loved. There is one life, make the most of it, don’t let haters, and naysers get you down.

    17. Deborah says:

      She is stunning, beautiful, and confident. I’m sure she will accomplish anything she sets out to do. Just like my own two daughters.
      However, they would not get out of the house with that cleavage exposed at that age, even to the prom. BTW, I’m an older caucasian female, if that matters.

    18. Donna says:

      Damn girl, I want to go back to my prom in a dress like that.
      I went with lace. You went bold and creative.

      • SBLG says:

        I agree!
        She looks beautiful…. Beautiful girl. Inside and out!
        The only thing I have issues with is the amount of cleavage showing..

    19. Kyra says:

      Markell Evette of Markell’s Closet made Kyemah McEntyre’s dress.
      The pair has made other casual dresses together. She is on Etsy and is selling her paintings to pay for school.

    20. Liz Frank says:

      She has wisdom beyond her years and chooses to use her intelligence to better herself as opposed to crying foul. She will be on the red carpet one day soon and I wish her all the luck and opportunities that life has to offer.

    21. F 25 says:

      That fabric is from Ghana and she looks like a model straight from the pages of Vogue.

    22. Sana says:

      Unlike people like Raven- Symone and Stacy Dash who hate the fact that they have African roots, Kyemah McEntyre is a role model.

    23. Tamia says:

      She might as well embrace her African roots, because even if she has been living in Antartica for 50, she will never be seen as white.

    24. Anty says:

      Her art works are also impressive.

      https://www.etsy.com/shop/KyesMind

    25. MARY says:

      Very pretty dress. not appropriate for a senior prom

    26. USA says:

      She is American not African, what she is did is called culture appropriation just like Iggy, Eminen and Elvis and even Justin. A black woman doesn’t need to have locks or colorful clothes to make a point.
      Oprah, Michelle Obama and Lupita are living proof you need talent, brains and great work ethics to make it.

      • Kat says:

        Oh but she is of African decent, even if she never stepped foot on African soil. What you are saying is that I shouldn’t consider myself German, French, etc because I was born in America. Being American doesn’t erase where your culture and traditions come from. Those things should be honored (when they are good traditions and don’t hurt others) and are one of the things that make America the great melting pot of ethnicity.

    27. Coco Butter says:

      I think Africans should be happy that this beautiful and gifted yound lady has decided to carry on with her heritage and even passé it on to another generation. Don’t diss her, be glad she is keeping the traditions of her ancestors alive.

    28. bryan says:

      your dress is beautiful and you are more beautiful then your dress!

    29. Dee Says says:

      How does she not get throw out after all the controversy about dress codes.

      • CharInOhio says:

        Yeah after all the controversy over dress code at proms these days ……..I thought the same thing ……..

    30. Kerrie says:

      Stunning. Just beautifully stunning. Expect to see more of her in the future. Her attitude represents a growing population of people who shun stereotypes and embrace differences. To wear such a non-traditional (albeit beautiful) dress to her prom took guts. A lot of students are afraid to go against the mainstream. She was not afraid. She is inspirational.

    31. Dee Says says:

      How does she not get throw out after all the controversy about dress codes.
      I mean students have been denied for much less.
      Saying that, She Rocks and I’m glad she was able to attend.

    32. cembad says:

      I would have found it much more stlyish w/o seeing her 17/yo tits. When will these kids learn leaving something to the immagination is much more alluring.

    33. Kristiana says:

      Breathtaking design, concept and execution. Here is a contestant for Project Runway.

    34. Bridget Broughton says:

      Sista Kyemah, continue to be Bold, Brave & Beautiful! Never let anyone determine your worth. Hold true to yourself and your heritage. Be Blessed

    35. Terri says:

      Breathless, just beautiful!

    36. Ellen says:

      I think she looks beautiful….I love all the bold color in this gown…However as a grandma, I wish she had not shown so much cleavage…

    37. Sal says:

      Let us be real, her family has been in America for hundreds of years, why does student all of sudden feels the need to reconnect to the mother land? Move on with your life.

      • Kat says:

        So, by your theory, I should give up German and French traditions because I was born in America as were my parents and grandparents? Should everyone stop family traditions just because of where they were born? The Irish and Scottish should give up wearing kilts (that’d be a shame!), etc? She is honoring her heritage, there is nothing wrong with that as long as the traditions she observe don’t harm others.

    38. Tom says:

      Yowie zowie! Gorgeous! …. but I agree with the above comment.

    39. Cher says:

      Nice but cleavage is a bit much for a prom. But then for our prom we couldn’t even have spaghetti straps.

    40. Zion says:

      lol indeed, she she is celebrating the Africans who sold their own people to become slaves.

    41. tRINITY says:

      She is beautiful. Is she black or mixed? With names like that she appears to be of black and white parents?

    42. Dyllan says:

      What a gorgeous dress, but way too much cleavage and I have to say that she copied a designer from west Africa. Those long gowns are common over there.

    43. Liela says:

      Don’t follow the masses, forge your on path in life.

    44. Reekam says:

      That dress is absolutely exquisite! and this stament is coming from a woman who is not a fan of prints, animals, African, not for me.

    45. Take it easy says:

      She was was inspired by Eritreans, Ethiopians, and Nigerians prints, the poor girl never said she invented them, stop being so negative.

    46. Ghanaian queen says:

      Like Nigerian Goddess pointed out, Africans on the continent and in the US rock these outfits all the time. Go to any African church in any US metropolis on Sunday and you’ll find beautiful young ladies proudly wearing their culture.

      I applaud this young lady for choosing to represent the beauty of African fashion. BUT if you want to represent African culture, it is best to learn everything about it. I have an issue with the plunging neckline, like most commenters on here. The word for lady in one of the Ghanaian languages is ‘akatasia’, which can be translated to mean ‘covered and hidden’, that is a lady is covered and hidden and offers a little mystery.

      The point of this lengthy comment is, if the Western world is going to admire and adopt African culture/fashion, please emulate all aspects of it. Thank you! 🙂

      • cynthia says:

        Hear, Hear, Ghanaian queen.

        A bit more modesty offers a little mystery, which is very sexy!
        Seriously, giving away too much too soon leaves nothing to the imagination. It takes away the novelty.

        This goes for all women 😉

    47. Noslo says:

      She is absolutely beautiful.

    48. Natasha Dawn says:

      Amazing!!

    49. SrFlo says:

      Lovely dress! But what ‘broke’ the internet was most likely her lack of breast coverage. She’s a beautiful young woman who chose to expose herself. So people look. A bit over the top for high school prom.

    50. New York Nigeria says:

      This young lady is stunning. I applaud her for wearing the dress to represent her heritage. However, our black African women would not reveal so much cleavage. The African print was very popular in the larger cities in the late sixties and seventies. Kyemah continue to hold your high.

    51. Alicia L Matthews says:

      This is one drop dead beautiful dress, the color, the length the fabric are all timeless. I saw numerous commentators went after her for the cleavage and I disagree.
      Let me explain, she is 18 and is therefore an adult. She has an amazing body and has the right to show it as long as she does not expose any private parts – which she did not. A woman should be allowed to wear sheer or show a bit of skin withouth being criticized. She is a designer therefore an artist who has ideas they went to express.

    52. Marilu Berman says:

      She is a pretty girl full of talent and dreams. I wish her success in life.

    53. Kailye says:

      Where are her parents?
      Dad should should have said”honey you’re beautitul but you can’t go out like that, cover your tatas a bit baby gyrl.”

    54. Kailye says:

      Hey Nigerian princess, if that is really your name, why do you say she appropriating your culture, when she like the rest of humanity has African blood?
      Furthermore she is African American which implies that she is a direct descendant of African slave.

    55. Matt says:

      If Hillary Cliton wears that dress, she gets my vote, heck I’ll even convince my boys in Tennessee to support her.

    56. Democlassy says:

      R u kidding me Matt, did you just called our future prez and first female leader cliton, typo or you did that on purpose.
      If hill wants the black vote she has to tell them that she will work on the economy, creat jobs and end the wars, not wear a dress.
      the dress doesn’t make the woman, her actions, her education do.

    57. Shonda says:

      Even the choker she is wearing is a sensation piece, don’t let me get started on that unique head piece. She oozes creativity. Congrats young sister, slay it.

    58. Miss Lopes says:

      Would to her make something using fabric from Mexico or Guatemala.

    59. Samantha says:

      I don’t care about whatever statement she’s making regarding her heritage – didn’t even read the whole article. It’s a beautiful dress – well done. Having said that – it is NOT appropriate for a student attending a school function, regardless of whether or not she’s18 and considered an adult. It was still a school function.

    60. Tara DeVoy says:

      Put your big booy back in your Afrocentric prom dress.

    61. Tara DeVoy says:

      Your booby is protruding from your African pride dress…perhaps it is just as important to observe proper etiquette when attending a high school prom as it is to beat us over the head with your angry rhetoric (with which most of us are bored).

    62. Friend says:

      Kyemah McEntyre is from Ethiopia.

    63. Sharon says:

      One word – Stunning!!!!!

    64. Verna Whitley-Batiste says:

      You are a beautiful young lady, who seem to have a vision. Hold your head up and do you. Good luck. That dress is stunning!

    65. Hank says:

      What a unique creation, you can see she is a real artist. Congrats on your diploma and future endeavors.

    66. Mayard says:

      I ‘m eager to see her next creation – she has the potential to do men’clothings also by the looks of the bow tie.

    67. Cherry K says:

      those who bullied her were jealous of her beauty and talent. Keep shinning young Nubian princess.

    68. chillyc says:

      I detest all of the “NAY SAYERS” from the first pseudo intellectual comment who sounded like a brain dead “other”. No one traces back to find Europe, and she did not to find her Africa .Africa is current and has always been current.

    69. Cathy says:

      Dress is stunning as is this young lady, but she is American of African descent. Would love to see her embrace her American heritage as well and maybe see her design something that shows she’s proud of that also.

    70. cynthia says:

      Kyemah, you will go far, no doubt about that! Very impressed with dress, hairstyle, jewelry. More impressed with what you said, as mentioned in the article above. And you are only 18 years old. WOW!

      “This is for always being labeled as, “ugly” or “angry”. Thank God, stereotypes are just opinions.”
      Yes, just opinions of ignorant, jealous people.

      Best Wishes,
      cynthia

      56 yr old white woman

    71. Vickie Gant says:

      AWESOME! STUNNING! GREAT JOB Kyemah,YOU ROCK!

    72. K. Spears says:

      This young woman is an absolute talent. I love the print and color and style of her gown. She should be very proud of herself. You will go far. Congrats.

    73. AS says:

      Perhaps a bit too revealing for a high school prom dress but absolutely beautiful from head to toe! The funny thing is, the idiots bullying this girl are probably going to be the losers once they get out of high school! From experience that’s how it usually goes. If you can get through the mess of adolescence and teen years you’ll be smooth sailing for the rest of your life with all that confidence! Rock on!

    74. sfgirl says:

      Love the dress, and the fabric, but agreee too much cleavage for high school promo. Non the less, she is going to go far, and bravo to the her for holding her head high!

    75. Vanayssa Love says:

      The most gorgeous thing about Kye is her amazing eyes…they just are unbelievably beautiful. Wow. Way to go girl you will leave your mark behind.


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