The presence of internet personalities on the 2021 Met Gala guest list raises eyebrows and creates controversy surrounding the event’s prestigious history.
By Roya Amirsheybani
Similar to almost everyone’s social media feed this past week, Met Gala content overtook my Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and YouTube feed. This year’s theme was “America: A Lexicon of Fashion,” which paid homage to iconic American culture symbols and designers. While the obligatory “best and worst dressed” lists remained consistent with the event’s yearly coverage, the growing presence of social media influencers at the Met Gala has become a heavily debated topic that asks “Who really deserves an invitation?”
Like many others that eagerly tune in each year to see the unique looks my favorite celebrities choose to promenade around the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I was caught off guard by the presence of influencers such as Addison Rae and Dixie D’amelio. I have always considered the Met Gala as an event carrying heavy prestige, so I found myself questioning why and how these girls became so famous for doing so little, and how their work could be grounds for receiving a ticket to one of the most exclusive events in the United States. As photos of the guests slowly made their way to the Met Gala’s official Instagram account, I could not help but notice the disparities between the social media personalities and other guests.
Among the sea of talented musicians, actors, and athletes, internet influencers seemed to stick out like a sore thumb. Compared to Billie Eilish’s Oscar De La Renta ball gown, Addison Rae’s red ensemble looked cheap and tacky, almost a dead giveaway of her questionable rise to stardom. But what is this all for?
I believe that the presence of internet celebrities at the Met Gala is a result of Anna Wintour attempting to rebrand the event to reach a younger audience. With Gen Z’s interest and access to social event coverage at an all-time high, it is obvious that the inclusion of influencers comes from the aim to gather more attention from Gen Z viewers, and it worked, in a way.
In addition to self-proclaimed fashion critics evaluating whether or not every attendee’s look fit this year’s theme, I noticed an influx of social media users commenting on the questionable roster, which seemed to increase the engagement on the official Met Gala Instagram account. However, with the heightened engagement came an absence of the elegance and tradition famously present at the event in years past, and viewers noticed. Where do we draw the line between the quality of the event’s aesthetic and the number of viewers?
While I am not in favor of TikTok influencers attending the Met Gala, I wholeheartedly believe that hardworking and talented YouTube influencers deserve an invitation. Not only have these individuals “paid their dues” on the internet, but many speak for Gen Z in a way that is more impactful than the message TikTok stars are sending. Instead of “look how far I’ve come from being conventionally attractive and moving my arms around to pop songs,” the message of many YouTubers that attended can be interpreted as “look how far I’ve come from working hard on creating quality YouTube content,” which is by far a more inspiring and credible message to send to Met Gala viewers. For example, beauty guru Nikkie de Jager, known on YouTube as NikkieTutorials, has worked hard since 2008 to build a platform of acceptance and inspiration that goes beyond beauty products. To say that her ticket to the Met Gala was undeserved is simply untrue.
Even though my chances of ever attending the Met Gala are slim, as a viewer, I feel I have an obligation to voice my opinion on who I want and do not want to see. This is my feed, after all, and I don't know if I care to see the likes of Addison Rae and Dixie D’amelio at next year’s Met Gala. Anna Wintour, please don’t fire me for this.
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Ryan Ford '23,