AOC makes a statement with her red lettered dress


Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., made a big, red statement at this year’s Met Gala with her white dress by James. Tribune News Service

Anna Malesiewski, Arts & Leisure Editor

The most famous members of modern pop culture walked the cream carpet at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on the evening of Sept. 13 for one of the most elite parties of the year: The Met Gala.

After being postponed last year due to COVID-19, the Met Gala was back in full force this year with the theme “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion.”

A-list actors, supermodels, athletes and musicians all dressed in their own interpretation of this year’s theme.

The Met Gala offers an opportunity for A-listers to make grandiose fashion statements. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., attempted to do just that.

And she made a statement, all right.

Ocasio-Cortez pulled up to the Gala wearing a floor-length white dress with the words “Tax the Rich” written on the back in bold, red letters. The dress was meant to condemn wealth inequality in America.

“The medium is the message,” Ocasio-Cortez said in an Instagram post after the event.

But many on the Internet thought this plan was poorly thought through and executed even worse.

Many said that it’s not the message Ocasio-Cortez thinks it is to wear this kind of dress (which God only knows how much it cost) to a highly exclusive, elitist event where tickets average $35,000 a pop.

Ocasio-Cortez was highly criticized for this display, with many calling her a “hypocrite.” While Politifact — a fact-checker generated by the Poynter Institute — determined that Ocasio-Cortez did not get to keep her dress nor pay for her ticket, Ocasio-Cortez was correct: the medium was the message.

Ocasio-Cortez defended this situation by saying that it is common for New York representatives to attend the Met Gala due to their responsibility to oversee the many cultural institutions within New York City, the Metropolitan Museum of Art being one of the most prominent. However, other representatives did not attend the event trying to send the same message that she did.

She also defended herself by stating that the cause of public outrage was her status as a woman of color.

Ocasio-Cortez did collaborate with activist and fashion designer James, a Black woman whose brand focuses on sustainability and cultural expression. James also created the 15% pledge, which challenges companies to give 15% of their merchandise space to Black-owned brands and companies.

However, Ocasio-Cortez’s decision to rally support for taxation of the rich at a party specifically targeted for the rich did not sit well with many of her supporters, as well as her skeptics.

“The real issue here isn’t inconsistency on wealth inequality — it’s rank hypocrisy on pandemic restrictions,” tweeted Reason ( @reason), a monthly magazine, on Sunday night. “When the elites get together for a party, all the rules go out the window.”

Many were also outraged that while Ocasio-Cortez and many of her Democratic counterparts strongly support mask mandates, masks seemed to be nowhere to be found at the event.

“French Laundry, Pelosi at the salon, AOC at the Met Gala… if they won’t obey their rules, why the F should we?” Steve Hilton (@SteveHiltonx) said on Twitter on Monday morning.

Some did see the dress as a tactical move with a powerful social message, though. Some saw it as a way to shift Met Gala discourse from fashion to social issues.

“Tired of people trying to find fault in AOC’s Met Gala dress,” said The Vixen (@TheVixensWorld) on Twitter Sept. 15. “It’s good that she was invited. It’s good that she made a statement.”



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