Met Gala: Fashion and Human Rights
The 2021 Met Gala took place on September 13th and is an event in the United States meant to raise funds for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Many celebrities attend the event, who retain a lot of influence today, and use this opportunity to show extravagance through their clothes. This year, as the theme was "In America: A Lexicon of Fashion", some celebrities incorporated important statements about the Human Rights situation in the United States.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, politician, activist and member of the House of Representatives, decided to wear, in her first Met Gala, a dress with the phrase "tax the rich". When Donald Trump was president, there was a tax cut, and that's what the Democrat known as AOC wants to undo, as she understands that this measure only favors the rich. However, some people thought this statement was hypocritical, as the entrance ticket to the Met Gala costs $35,000. Nevertheless, the politician defended her statement, saying that "the medium is the message", that is, that she is speaking directly to the rich when wearing this clothing at this event of the highest elite.
Another member of the House of Representatives who attended the event was politician Carolyn Maloney. Many were impressed when she showed up wearing a dress that had the phrase "equal rights for women". She decided to wear these clothes to draw attention to the equal rights amendment, which will officially guarantee equal legal rights in the US constitution for all people, regardless of gender. However, many criticized the politician as in 2001, after the 9/11 attack, she showed up in Congress wearing a burqa and defended, in her speech, the invasion of Afghanistan. This affected the identity of many muslim women, as the burqa was being associated to terrorism on national TV.
Other celebrities decided to take a stand on important topics in different ways. Singer Billie Eilish, 19, wore a dress by Oscar de la Renta, that has a history of using animal fur in their designs. The singer, shocked that this is still acceptable in 2021, agreed to wear the dress on the condition that they stop selling any pieces made with real animal fur. This shows how celebrities can use their power of influence to contribute to important causes and generate positive change in society.
Finally, poet Amanda Gorman dressed inspired by the Statue of Liberty, which symbolizes the country's freedom, democracy and hope. The poet had with her a bag with "give me your tired" written in it, which is part of the poem "The New Colossus", present in the Statue of Liberty. The poem contains the following excerpt: "'Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door". This represents Gorman's vision of what an ideal country would be: a country that welcomes immigrants, refugees and people in need.
This event presents itself as an opportunity for celebrities to take a stand and seek to achieve something with their influence. Some celebrities got lost in controversy, since what they preached was not consistent with their behavior. On the other hand, other people were able to go beyond performative activism, reflecting on what celebrities should do in the face of the struggle for equal rights and quality of life.