Lady Gaga’s meat dress inspires runway, sends mixed messages

Lady Gaga had several outfit changes during MTV’s video music awards, ending with the now-infamous meat dress:

What’s more disturbing than the dress itself is the fact that meat-as-fabric might be a trend now — I really hope it isn’t. It’s Fashion Week in New York City, and designer Jeremy Scott revealed a meaty design on the runway, just days after the VMAs aired:

This boggles my mind because (1) obviously it’s cruel to animals;  (2) it’s a total waste of meat — it’s hard to imagine using meat as fabric when almost 15 percent of U.S. households, more than 17 million, are food insecure, meaning they aren’t sure where their next meal will come from; (3) it’s not even attractive — who looks at that bacon bikini top and finds it appealing?

Though Lady Gaga has said that she wore the meat dress to draw attention to the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” military policy — she told Ellen the meaning was that if you don’t stand up for your rights that you won’t have any more rights than the meat on your bones — it has simultaneously worked its way onto the runway.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure the message Gaga wanted to send has gone along with it — the shock value seems to have superceded the intended message, and Gaga’s flare for edgy fashion has superceded her flare for human rights activism in this case. The meat dress isn’t seen as a symbol of the lack of agency or a statement about how humans are more than just slabs of meat — it’s seen as a new type of fabric, and that’s unfortunate for the gay rights cause the dress was meant to highlight, the animals that get butchered to be the dress, and the fashion world who somehow finds the look appealing.

And, as I feared might happen, one cause gets exploited for the sake of another cause. It’s ironic because the statement Gaga wants to make is that animals are merely slabs of meat, and if you don’t stand up for yourself than you’re just like an animal with no rights and no free will — yet though she acknowledges this cause, she then exploits the fact those animals don’t have rights by wearing some to get attention for her own cause.

The really interesting thing is that Gaga doesn’t have to wear a meat dress to get attention for her cause or support from her fans. She could wear anything bizarre and get attention, and her fanbase is extremely devoted — she has the most followers on Twitter and uses it often to interact with her “little monsters” and as a tool for activism, as she recently did by urging people to call Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for a vote on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Reid announced via Twitter that there will be a vote on the policy next week (though said it was planned before Gaga’s tweets about calling him), and even Tweeted a little with Gaga.

Though I doubt skirts made of bacon and jackets made of ham will be lining the aisles of the clothing section of Target anytime soon, even the faux meat representation sends an extremely confusing message. It simply is a reminder that popular culture so quickly jumps to mimic and recreate whatever pop stars are doing, regardless of how inhumane, nonsensical, or bizarre it is — maybe that’s the secret underlying message and social commentary of Gaga’s meat dress.


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