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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

The Met Gala, an annual fundraising event held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, took place last week. Celebrities, models, influencers, etc., are invited by designers or sponsors to show off their themed outfits on the red carpet. Each year there is a different theme, and this year’s it was “America: A Lexicon of Fashion.” 

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) showed up at the Met Gala wearing a floor-length white dress with “Tax the Rich” in a large red print on the back. The gown was designed by Aurora James, a “sustainably focused, Black woman immigrant designer.” Other government officials were there along with AOC; Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio also attended as guests of the museum. 

While she was not the only person making a political statement with her outfit, AOC received a great deal of criticism from both sides of the political spectrum for her attendance and attire. Some are upset by how she was partying with the country’s elites at an event where one ticket cost upwards of $30k, especially at a time when many of her constituents are struggling to make ends meet. 

AOC is a United States Representative and was invited to the event for free, got the chance to wear a free dress and used her platform to make an event usually reserved for fashion and social elites something more. “Tax the rich” is a phrase some Americans may not have heard of, and AOC showing up with the words on her back started conversations, increasing engagement about what it means. Raising awareness is definitely not enough on its own, but it is a start in order to gain support and achieve eventual results. 

Taxing the richest 1% of United States citizens is something many progressive democrats advocate for since billionaires do not pay nearly as much in taxes as they could be paying. There is an enormous wealth gap in our country, and allowing billionaires to exist is not beneficial to the general public. The money could be used to even out the wealth gap and make things such as healthcare, homeownership and higher education more accessible. AOC has been one of the leaders pushing for this change in the House of Representatives.

The phrase “performative activism” was also used by disapproving commenters on AOC at the Met Gala. While AOC is not perfect, she is anything but performative. She is a Congressional representative who works to make real policy changes for our country and has to push to make her opinions heard in the face of the ever-increasing partisanship in the federal government. 

It is important to not idolize our representatives, but AOC being invited and attending the Met Gala for free while promoting something she is working to enact in our country’s legislature received so much unproductive criticism. I do not think AOC’s choice to wear a gown with “Tax the Rich” on the back to a heavily publicized event in order to increase engagement on the topic warranted the extreme backlash it received.

Maddie Quigley is a political science major with a minor in media studies. She is a vegetarian, plant-lover, avid reader and she enjoys talking politics.
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