AOC Met Gala 1

AOC and the designer of the dress, Aurora James, getting ready before the Met Gala. 

The Met Gala has officially come and gone, and people have had mixed opinions about everything that went on. Critics say nobody was on theme, some attendees should not have been invited, and other random concerns. One of the biggest controversies of the night, however, was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s first Met Gala appearance. 

The Met Gala is an extremely publicized event catered to the rich and famous. Attendance is by invitation only, and attendee’s outfits must be approved ahead of time to make sure that they are appropriate and on theme. (Keep in mind that this means that event coordinators must have approved her dress ahead of time.) 

This event is also not cheap. Single tickets are rumored to cost $35,000, while tables go from $200,000 - $300,000. This is usually not the celebrity paying the price, however, because brands will pay for the table and invite guests to attend for them, although guest lists have to be approved by the event as well.

Ocasio-Cortez made a statement by showing up in a white gown which, written in bold red on the back, said “tax the rich.” To me, this is a truly iconic move. She is known for standing up for what she believes in in Congress, including women’s rights, climate change and Medicare for All. Because she has all of these “liberal” beliefs, she tends to get backlash from many political figures, especially from republicans. She also receives hate because of who she is: a young, POC woman who is an elected official. 

She attended one of the most famous and anticipated nights for “celebrities,” all of which are wealthy and/or widely known. She went in with all of these people and essentially told them and the world that they should be paying more in taxes (which they should, but that is a topic for another day). 

I think that her message was well-executed. It aligns with her beliefs and her campaign and she most definitely caused a commotion. Most people would agree that any press is good press. I think that I am in the minority when it comes to that opinion, however. 

Ocasio-Cortez has faced immense backlash over her attendance at the event. Not only are people mad about her dress and the message behind it, but that she paid money to go to an expensive event just to make her point. 

First of all, Ocasio-Cortez did not pay to go to the event. She was one of many New York City elected officials in attendance, and was invited to attend by the Met itself. 

AOC Met Gala 2

AOC on the Met Gala’s red carpet.

Along those same lines, she did not pay for the dress, or even keep it for that matter. The dress was designed by Aurora James, and Ocasio-Cortez merely rented it from her business, Brother Vellies. In choosing a dress, she also made sure to support a small, POC-owned business rather than a big corporation, which fits her message. Most people in attendance choose big designer brands for their look, but she chose a smaller brand that would benefit from this type of exposure. 

The main concern, which is valid from an outsider’s standpoint, is the ethics behind her going to the Met Gala. Her ticket was comped by the Met itself, as we previously established, but republicans still have issues with it. One conservative political group in particular, the American Accountability Foundation, filed a report against Ocasio-Cortez, stating that for many reasons, she violated rules and procedures by going. 

Their main concern was how she accepted a donation that was expensive enough to be over the threshold of what she was legally allowed to. However, since the ticket was provided to her from the museum itself, and because the Met Gala is a fundraiser, it doesn’t fall into the same category as other donations do, meaning that she broke no rules. 

Let me make one thing clear: she broke no rules by going to the Met Gala. Everything she did was completely within the realm of what she is legally allowed to do, from her ticket to her gift acceptance. 

The only thing Ocasio-Cortez is guilty of in this situation is being a girlboss who was not afraid to make a statement and show the world of the rich and famous what she believes in. Quite honestly, I think it was one of the best looks of the night, and I hope to see some sort of similar appearance from her in the future.

Hannah Keil is an opinion writer. Contact her at hkeil@kent.edu.

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