Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Hits Back at Critics, Defends Met Gala 'Tax The Rich' Dress

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defended her appearance at the Met Gala, hitting back at critics of her head-turning dress emblazoned with the words "tax the rich."

The Democratic New York Representative stood by her outfit choice at the exclusive event, telling her detractors "the medium is the message" in a series of tweets on Tuesday.

"Proud to work with Aurora James as a sustainability focused, Black woman immigrant designer who went from starting her dream Brother Vellies at a flea market in Brooklyn to winning the cfda [the Council of Fashion Designers of America] against all odds - and then work together to kick open the doors at the Met," Ocasio-Cortez wrote alongside a photo of herself and the designer, seemingly taken just before the gala on Monday night.

"And before haters get wild flying off the handle, New York elected officials are routinely invited to and attend the Met due to our responsibilities in overseeing and supporting the city's cultural institutions for the public," the progressive politician added.

The medium is the message. pic.twitter.com/b4Ssr6HkYR

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) September 14, 2021
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Met Gala
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defended her attendance at the 2021 Met Gala. Jamie McCarthy/MG21/Getty Images

The invitation-only event is an annual fundraiser benefiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute in New York City.

Ocasio-Cortez also used the opportunity to remind her supporters that "the time is now for childcare, healthcare, and climate action for all" and reiterated her original message: "Tax the rich."

The political statement reflects the congresswoman's previous proposals to increase the marginal tax on the nation's wealthiest Americans as a way to pay for the Green New Deal: a set of proposals that would help improve national infrastructure and fight climate change.

However, many jumped on social media to highlight Ocasio-Cortez's apparent hypocrisy for donning a tone-deaf message against the wealthy while simultaneously attending such an exclusive and expensive event.

The Met Gala reportedly charges nearly $35,000 per ticket, however most celebrities invited to attend don't pay if they wear the work of an up-and-coming designer featured at the event, according to the Evening Standard.

It would have been one thing for @AOC to wear the TAX THE RICH dress to #MetGala as a protest of the absurd event.

But nope, she’s all in with the stars walking its red carpet.

— Brent Scher (@BrentScher) September 14, 2021

A table at the Met Gala costs around $275,000 and an individual ticket costs $30,000.

If @AOC hates the rich so much, why is she attending an event that only the wealthiest people in America can afford to attend?

I wonder if any journalists will do their job and ask her. https://t.co/lgMHCiJdKX

— David Hookstead (@dhookstead) September 14, 2021

The epitome of stupidity.#AOC wearing a several thousand dollar dress with “tax the rich” on it at a gala that glorifies the extravagant elite #MetGala pic.twitter.com/f2ATuFatWo

— Lidia Curanaj (@LidiaNews) September 14, 2021

Donald Trump Jr., the eldest son of former President Donald Trump, was one of many public figures who mocked the dress, calling the politician a "fraud" and an "authoritarian mask Karen."

"What makes @AOC a bigger fraud," Trump Jr. tweeted. "The 'tax the rich' dress while she's hanging out with a bunch of wealthy leftwing elites or the lack of masks after spending the past 18 months as one of the biggest authoritarian mask Karens in the country?"

The topic of increasing taxes for America's most wealthy in order to reduce income and wealth inequality has dominated recent political conversations.

Ocasio-Cortez has frequently criticized wealthy business owners who shirk on their responsibilities to adequately pay their employees.

A recent report revealed that the nation's elite increased their wealth by $1.8 trillion during the coronavirus pandemic.

The collective fortune of U.S billionaires surged by nearly two-thirds (62 percent) from just short of $3 trillion at the start of the COVID crisis on March 18, 2020, to $4.8 trillion on August 17, 2021, according to a report from Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF), a political advocacy group, and the Institute for Policy Studies Program on Inequality (IPS), a progressive Washington-based think tank.

A report from ProPublica released in June estimated that the 25 top billionaires paid on average just 3.4 percent of their expanded wealth in federal income taxes, and that several, including Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, went multiple years paying no federal income tax at all.

Newsweek has contacted Ocasio-Cortez's office for comment.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Met Gala
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wears a gown was made by Brother Vellies designer Aurora James at the 2021 Met Gala on September 13, 2021 in New York City. Kevin Mazur/MG21/Getty Images