Representative A.O.C. Should Have Been M.I.A. During the Met Gala


Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Met Gala dress was a failed attempt to garner support for raised taxes.

The Met Gala is one of New York’s cultural summits where America’s elites gather for cocktails, networking and blinding photo-ops. Models, singers, television personalities and politicians come together to make a fashion statement. This year, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez struck a tasteless pose in her controversial dress, muting her intended statement with a tone-deaf execution.

Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez arrived at the Met Gala sporting an elegant white dress with the phrase “Tax the Rich” boldly emblazoned in red on the back. Fashion has long been used as a means of self-expression and as a way of spreading awareness about political issues. However, there are two glaring holes in Ocasio-Cortez’s attempt to do this. 

Considering her influential hold over New York City politics as a representative, Ocasio-Cortez could have advocated for taxing the wealthy in other, more effective ways. For instance, she could have lobbied for legislation — something President Biden continues to ponder. A collaboration with Biden would shine a better spotlight on these socioeconomic issues. 

The second flaw is far more serious. By choosing to attend one of the most exclusive  events built for America’s upper class, Ocasio-Cortez is actively supporting the wealthy and providing them an even greater platform. Ocasio-Cortez exploited an issue she claims to care about by using it as a fashion statement at an elitist event laden with the same wealthy class of people she vocally reprimands. This move unnecessarily diminishes her political sentiment.

This was definitely the most inappropriate way for Ocasio-Cortez to express her message.

With the onset of the pandemic, many minority communities found themselves falling into poverty at higher rates than their wealthy white counterparts. Additionally, women accounted for a substantial portion of lost jobs in the last year at a towering 55%. 

A more appropriate example of raising awareness would be starting and supporting peaceful rallies which call for legislative change. Ocasio-Cortez’s stunt was more successful at garnering critical headlines rather than inspiring necessary dialogue. Even worse, the designer of Ocasio-Cortez’s dress has been accused of owing thousands of dollars in unpaid taxes as well as refusing to pay interns.

Ocasio-Cortez failed to elicit productive dialogue. Instead, she further ignited harsh rhetoric surrounding increased taxes. 

The disparities in America’s economy must not go unremedied. We as a nation must remember that these issues are far too significant to be reduced to a wealthy politician’s fashion faux pas.

Noah Osborne, FCRH ’23, is a journalism major from Harlem, N.Y.