Opinion: Why the Met Gala is Anti-feminist

The 2019 Met Gala came and went, and with it came the social media obsession over what everyone’s favorite celebrities were wearing. My twitter feed became inundated by post after post about each attendee’s “camp” look. Celebrities such as: Kendall and Kylie Jenner, Lady Gaga, JLo, Rupaul, Harry Styles, and many more were in attendance. They were capturing everyone’s attention on their latest fit.

The Met Gala is a high-profile fundraising event, benefitting the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. A-list celebrities are invited to the event and are asked to partake in a theme. They will spend thousands of dollars on a ticket (if they’re not sponsored to attend the event, amounting to $30,000), and of course, a dress or ensemble, which can cost up to tens of thousands of dollars.

The theme this year was “Camp.” One of the inspirations of this was Susan Songtag, who notes that “The hallmark of Camp is the spirit of extravagance. Camp is a woman walking around in a dress made of three million feathers.” Celebrities are no stranger to this idea, and the red carpet at the Met Gala is one of the most talked about fashion events of the year. Each attendee seemed to have great pride over showing off the looks that they had been preparing for this event.

In light of this theme, celebrities came dressed in extravagant costumes, carrying around Gucci-made heads that cost over $11,000, and wearing nearly 2 million dollars of jewelry.

Image Source: Vanity Fair

It’s a fact that the Met Gala is a display of excessive wealth and income inequality. By nature, these things are anti-feminist. The Met Gala raised 15 million dollars this year for the Costume Institute. To be clear, I have never been the type of feminist to discredit pop culture. Its influence and importance are crucial to society’s progression. I believe that art has a valuable place in all of our lives, and fashion is no different. The problem doesn’t lie in the fashion of the attendees, or the amount of money raised for fashion, the problem lies in the amount of money that these celebrities have accumulated.

The United States is plagued by income inequality. The rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer or staying the same. Inflation has risen, but minimum wage isn’t keeping up. About 30% of the United States population lives near the poverty line, which is $12,228 per year in income.

Preparing for the Gala, many Americans obsess over and celebrate the showing off of $11,000 Gucci heads and designer dresses that cost more than what the average American makes in a year. Most Americans are struggling, yet do it anyway. Meanwhile, it seems like these celebrities are also struggling, trying to figure out how to spend their extreme wealth and trying to one-up each other in extravagant, flamboyant designs.

Now, maybe I’m just being bitter here, but why should someone wear a dress worth more than my college education? This whole thing just seems so Hunger Games to me, like when District 1 gets to play dress up while the other Districts fight to the death. It feels kind of disgusting to watch my friends and peers pawn over this event and watch from the sidelines.

Income inequality is the elephant in the room for America. The American Dream is a man-made fairy tale. Single mothers with 3 jobs are starving, while people are born into the top 1% and will never need to work a day in their life to be more rich than you can possibly imagine. It’s a scam, and we all fell for it, because it gives us a dream that we can one day attend the Met Gala.

Image Source: The Washington Post

This is a feminist issue because income inequality is a product of capitalism, a power structure that upholds the patriarchy. Feminism is not about women’s liberation under or through capitalism. Feminist is not about drooling over other women that flaunt excessive wealth, such as at the Met Gala. We don’t need women to be accepted into capitalism.

“Commercialism successfully waters down women’s liberation into a diluted narrative of individual liberation instead of a class analysis. Altering its main priorities from politics of redistribution to identity politics, modern feminism fails to stab capitalism where its heart lies.”

Feminism isn’t about getting women to earn equal wages to men under capitalism. Feminism is about dismantling capitalism because capitalism cannot exist without the exploitation of the weak and vulnerable of society. Capitalism and the patriarchy are married, and never leave each other’s sides. They walk hand in hand, taking advantage of women, objectifying them for unequal labor.

Society needs to stop observing these flashy events, wide-eyed and hopeful, and instead take off the rose-colored glasses and view them as an insulting display of wealth that is the result of a broken system.