The Met Gala’s ‘Heavenly Bodies’ theme is offensive, disrespectful


Celebrities such as Blake Lively donned “Catholic-inspired” clothing. Illustration by Izzie Bartholomew.

My religion is not your ball gown.

The theme of the 2018 Met Gala was “Heavenly Bodies,” a reference to the Met’s exhibit on artwork and fashion that features “the Catholic imagination.” Celebrities such as Cardi B, Rihanna and Kim Kardashian made appearances on the red carpet, covered in crosses and Christian imagery. The curators and coordinators of the event expected backlash, so they took minimal precautions. Attendees were asked to dress modestly, but this request was largely ignored.

There were several problems with this event. As many on Twitter have pointed out, the theme borders on cultural appropriation. Recently, a white high school student came under fire for wearing a traditional Chinese dress to her prom. She was attacked for nearly a week on social media. Where is the outrage over the Met Gala? People who aren’t Christian don’t understand the meaning of the cross or the story of the life of Jesus. The cross is a symbol of tragedy, suffering and sacrifice. It is not just another jewel to sew into your $15,000 gown. Just as it’s hard for people who aren’t Chinese to understand the significance of a qipao, it’s hard for non-Christians to respectfully wear a cross. Why isn’t this treated the same as the prom dress scandal? She was an unknown, likely uneducated young girl. These are powerful adults who influence our culture and know better.

The problem with the Met Gala isn’t in the exhibit or the theme, but in the people who attended and what they wore. The exhibit itself is actually something I support. I will always support education and appreciation of other cultures and religions. However, I do not stand for celebrities using Christianity as an accessory to get themselves onto a fashion magazine’s best-dressed list.

In response to the controversy, Archbishop Timothy Cardinal Dolan responded by saying that the Catholic religion has a lot in common with the Met Gala.

“But think about it just for a moment. It’s because the church and the Catholic imagination — the theme of this exhibit — are all about three things: truth, goodness and beauty. That’s why we’re into things such as art, culture, music, literature and, yes, even fashion,” Dolan said.

However, the majority of Hollywood’s ideas of beauty, love and truth are not congruent with God’s. They believe in a beauty that comes from material possessions, not an innate beauty that comes from within. They believe in a love that comes from earthly pleasure, not from Christ. They believe in a truth they make for themselves, not a truth that comes from their creator.

The very nature of the event goes against nearly everything in the Bible. The stars who appear on the red carpet aren’t there to glorify God, they’re there for themselves. For media exposure, bragging rights and their own vanity. The very purpose of events like these is self-obsession, self-promotion and keeping up your own image. Look no further than the attendees. Kim Kardashian had a rosary slung across her hip, even though her first claim to fame was a leaked sex tape. Jennifer Lopez wore a jeweled cross across her low-cut chest (paired with a thigh-high slit), only to attend the after party and start dancing promiscuously on a table. Kylie Jenner made an appearance with her baby daddy, Travis Scott. The people who attend the Met Gala are champions of immorality.

One of the clothing choices that irked me the most was Katy Perry’s “angel” costume. The significance of angels in Christianity is complex and sacred. They’re said to be powerful creatures who exist to glorify God and carry out His will. As I said before, the purpose of red carpet events is only to glorify yourself. Rihanna’s horrible Pope outfit proves this point. Her dress and headpiece dripped in excessive luxury, despite the Bible saying multiple times to humble yourself and live minimalistically. By taking a holy Catholic symbol and bedazzling it, she was incredibly disrespectful.

However, there were some who attended the gala who did it right. Ariana Grande wore a gown printed with images of the painting from the Sistine Chapel, which was more respectful than all of the glittery gold and silver crosses on display throughout the night. She paid homage to art pieces like the ones displayed inside the Met, instead of donning a Christian-themed costume for the night. Selena Gomez carried a purse embroidered with Proverbs 31:30, effectively glorifying God on the very unholy carpet. The purse reads: “A woman who fears the Lord is a woman who shall be praised.”

My religion is not a piece of artwork to be marveled at or a commodity to be fawned over on the cover of People magazine. Religion is sacred, and it is in no way a fashion statement.