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Once again, everyone is talking about what AOC is wearing

Sep 14, 2021
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After critics had a meltdown over AOC’s Met Gala look, the Congresswoman attempted to set the record straight. “We all had a conversation about Taxing the Rich in front of the very people who lobby against it,” she wrote in an Instagram story.  

Everyone is talking about what Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is wearing—again. The New York Congresswoman donned a white gown for the Met Gala on Monday night that read, “Tax the Rich” in red type. And, as often happens when AOC puts a finger on the cultural scale, everyone from Trumpworld zealots to New York Times writers chimed in to comment on it. 

“Cost per Ticket: $30,000,” tweeted Republican Senator Ted Cruz. “Virtue signaling to your base while partying—without a mask—with the people you claim to hate: Priceless.” Donald Trump Jr. struck a similar note, writing, “What makes @AOC a bigger fraud: the “tax the rich” dress while she’s hanging out with a bunch of wealthy leftwing elites or the lack of masks?” Tabloids such as the Daily Mail and the New York Post chimed in. “America’s No.1 champagne socialist,” read the headline of a Daily Mail piece claiming that Ocasio-Cortez “wanted to enjoy the limelight while trying to pass it off as a political protest.” 

Times fashion director and chief fashion critic Vanessa Friedman wrote that “attending the $35,000-a-ticket” event in such a dress “is a complicated proposition,” adding in a follow-up tweet, “Just seems she might have wanted that money used for something other than an elite party ticket.” (Manhattan Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s similarly statement-making dress prompted an entirely different reaction from Friedman.) 

The fracas on the right was perhaps to be expected—AOC has repeatedly had to answer for borrowing designer clothes for photo shoots, among the attacks on her appearance that right-wing critics have leveled in an attempt to discredit her politics. But she seemingly took pains to address any ruffled feathers ahead of time. “Proud to work with [Aurora James] as a sustainably focused, Black woman immigrant designer who went from starting her dream…at a flea market in Brooklyn to winning the @cfda against all odds—and then work together to kick open the doors at the Met,” she wrote in an Instagram post highlighting the designer. 

“There’s no way I’d be doing this if it wasn’t with a woman of color and with the intent to grow the table and empower women that look like me,” she said in a press release circulated by a communications firm representing James. “Despite being held in New York City, the culture of the Met Gala is everything but. NYC is often synonymous with inclusivity, inviting millions of people from different walks of life to call this city home. The Met Gala, on the other hand, is seen as elite and inaccessible. I’m attending today because I want to change just that and spotlight women of color who are often not included during events like these.” 

She also spoke about the look on the red carpet, saying on Vogue’s livestream that “while the Met is known for its spectacle, we should have a conversation about it.”

The annual gala’s theme was “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion,” and Ocasio-Cortez wasn’t the only attendee to use the event to send a political message, as CNN notes. She followed up on that message Tuesday afternoon, with a tweet that no one watching the meltdown over her dress could misunderstand: 

She elaborated in an Instagram story posted Tuesday, writing, “I thought about the criticism I’d get, but honestly I and my body have been so heavily and relentlessly policed from all corners politically since the moment I won my election that it’s kind of become expected and normalized to me…ultimately the haters hated and the people who are thoughtful were thoughtful. But we all had a conversation about Taxing the Rich in front of the very people who lobby against it, and punctured the 4th wall of excess and spectacle.” 

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