Posted: September 19, 2010 in COM 101 current issues


Lady Gaga accepted her award for Video of the Year in a Franc Fernandez-designed raw meat dress, shoes, bag, and hat making it one of the biggest fashion statements in VMA history. The singer is known for her theatrical sartorial taste so it was no surprise when she shuffled awkwardly across the MTV stage in Los Angeles.

A difference in perception…

Lady Gaga might have amassed awards at the 2010 MTV Music Awards but her meat outfit received criticism from the animal rights advocacy group, PETA who already released an official statement condemning Lady Gaga’s meat dress. “Meat is the decomposing flesh of a tormented animal who didn’t want to die, and after a few hours under the TV lights, it would smell like the rotting flesh it is and likely be crawling in maggots — not too attractive, really,” said PETA in their statement.

Moreover, “The City” star and People’s Revolution owner Kelly Cutrone was introspective, saying she found the frock frivolous in light of global hunger issues. “I personally think it’s not a good idea when people are starving in the world,” she said about food as fashion. “One person’s dress is another person’s dinner.”

On the contrary…

The fashion world appeared open-minded to Gaga’s fleshy statement- those who work in the world of art and fashion are quick to point out Gaga is certainly not the first person to use flesh to make a point.

“It was quite a dress! The first thing I thought of is an overlap of art and fashion — is I thought of artist Jana Sterbak. She, years and years ago, made a dress out of meat, and I think her dress was called ‘Dress for an Albino Anorectic,’ ” said Nancy Deihl, coordinator for the M.A. program in costume studies at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture. “Her dress still exists, and it’s all dried out and it’s already this kind of icon of meat fashion. It wasn’t fashion, it was an art piece.

Artist Mark Ryden, who has also used similar visuals in his own art, said he thinks the use of meat is just part of pop culture’s current zeitgeist. “Many people forget that meat was once part of a living creature. They can see it as simply a product you buy in a clean package at the grocery store. Seeing meat in the context of a dress is a bold reminder of what meat is and perhaps in still awareness of where the meat comes from. That awareness would hopefully be followed by respect and reverence and then would perhaps lead to the better treatment of the animals we use for food,” he said, referring to his own painting, “Incarnation.”

“I thought: courageous,” host Mary J. Blige said with a laugh when asked her opinion of Lady Gaga’s meat dress. “She’s a courageous chick.”

Actress and frequent “Glee” guest star Kristin Chenoweth couldn’t have agreed more. “I thought it was incredible,” she said. “Actually it was an incredible design. I wouldn’t be caught dead in it, but go girl!” Vegetarian singer KT Tunstall has leaped to the defense of Lady GaGa for wearing meat-style clothing, insisting it’s no different from dressing in leather.

So what did Lady Gaga had to say? ???

In an interview with Ellen DeGeneres – Lady Gaga explained later that the fleshy look “has many interpretations”- The most common is that her steak-powered statement referenced her support for gays in the US military and opposition to the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on homosexuals in the ranks.

Gaga tried to explain that the dress was a political statement. Discussing how she’d been escorted to the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles by members of the U.S. military who had been discharged from the service due to the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, Lady Gaga said: “It is a devastation to me that I know my fans who are gay … feel like they have governmental oppression on them. That’s actually why I wore the meat tonight.”

“Well, it is certainly no disrespect to anyone that is vegan or vegetarian,” she told talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, who is a vegan.


Relevance to class discussion

 Perception is the process by which we make sense of the world around us by means of selecting, organizing and interpreting information in order to give personal meaning to the communication we receive. It is highly influenced by psychological factors such as thought processes, character, and experiences. Moreover it is also influenced by social factors such as group culture and media.

Perception varies from individual to individual – it is highly subjective and deceptive, yet true enough it defines our reality. From this current issue, it is clearly seen that the way individuals, let it be celebreties, artists, or animal rights advocacy groups have different interpretations of Gaga’s fashion statement- this is because they perceive their surroundings, expeierence, and communication differently.

Before reacting and interpreting Gaga’s outrageous sense of fashion, these people select stimuli based on qualities like contrast, and novel stimuli. For example certain group of people may feel more strongly against Gaga’s meat dress because it is contrasting to their social norms and mentality, hence not acceptable- i.e. it is a taboo to dress in such clothing. For others like Artist Rayden- it is  truly a form of impressive art- and overlap between fashion and art- it is unique and captures attention.

My take…

I personally feel Lady Gaga dressed in a slab of meat is obnoxious, and a taboo. I believe she is a talented young woman, and should abide by society’s norm. True enough her sense of fashion is like a volcano, you just never know when it is going to erupt, however all along it was still tolerable, but this time she took it to the extremes. Many of the young crowd looks up to her, I feel she should impress them the right way, and not encourage such traumatizing dressing sense which is unethical. She should apologize to the media, and groups she might have offended to gain back her self-respect in the eyes of those people, if she wish to continue exceling in her career.

SO..What did you think of Gaga’s meat dress? What is your interpretation- A fashion statement or Taboo? Share your thoughts please:)

  1. Mehak says:

    well…i am no one to comment on her sense of fashion but yeah it was certainly OTT.i cannot fathom how anyone would be able to tolerate the smell and the feel of it against their skin.anyway i hope no one takes a fancy to it and continues the obnoxious trend!

  2. susmitha says:

    I agree with the writer, that meat should not be used as a costume which offends the way totally how we treat animals which were once alive. Hopefully, she’s not trying to be strange just for the sake it. Not to mention that those animals died for a cause. By wearing meat instead of some high designer outfit, she has made people aware of the waste and put the spotlight on the starving children around the world. we should stand up for what we believe in and fight for our rights.

  3. Michael says:

    I think, saying that wearing an outfit made of raw meat conveys a message of gay rights and critisizes the US military is a stretch. Lady Gaga wearing raw meat is not a political message but another bizzare attempt at gaining attention.

    I do hope she goes home and cooks the meat though, it would be a shame to see that buffet go to waste.

  4. NatalieNguyen says:

    Well, I’m not a gaga’s fan, but I personally think, we are nothing to judge other people on what they are doing, wearing… unless they are involved in serious crimes. If what they are doing harm nobody, let them. Don’t tell me that you don’t know anything about what is really going on in REAL life. So that means I do support the girl “Gaga”? I tell you what “I DONT CARE”

    I do care for many pity people r living on streets, millions of kid’s r suffering from hunger, life … and feel ashamed of myself coz cant doing much right now to help them. That’s what I care for…

    btw why won’t anyone think of it other way around, maybe she wanted deliver the mgs ” hey everyone, LOOK, in reality, animals are killed like this, we all should protect them” anyway, after this kind of meat fashion scandal , people will be more concern about protecting animals for sure.

  5. NatalieNguyen says:

    But if this was my only concern …i would say she’s really crazy. enough is enough, dont make it too far.

  6. suhel manchanda says:

    I diasgree with Lady Gaga’s obnoxious fashion statement, its completely insane. How could she be so cruel with animal’s skin? Using leather fashion accessories is already unacceptable, and now using dead skin to accept a award! Holy Jesus Christ! How could people be so arrogant? She is overly doing to grab attention, its her own selfish agenda. Using gay rights is an excuse to express her inner desires. She will die in hell, think about it one person’s meal is another person’s fashion statement? People are dying in africa out of hunger, no food ,no water or even clothes to wear! Here Gaga is happily accepting the award for her work or i would say few minutes of attention to her meat dress. Think about animal right activist? how would they feel? Not just gays! like there are two sides to the coin. People like her dont realize the value and understand the feeling of being an animal! How would she even understand ? she needs a heart which she doesnt have. So to all her fans give her some sense of civilized being.. if she really cares about the socitey and wants to set a good example for her followers, stop being hypocrite.

  7. Jaspreet Singh Narula says:

    When i saw this picture of her..i was in total shock! Completely filled with disgust. Who in the right mind would wear meat over themselves?? Wasn’t she concerned with the smell? She is trying to promote the killing of animals in the fashion industry. She claims to be a great fashion icon, however by pulling this stunt will cause her to loose her fans and also loose the respect anyone will ever give her. She is good at singing,i think she should just stick to that instead of trying to stun everyone whenever there is red carpet event. Already there are many animals on the verge of extinction like the white tiger whose fur are being sold as coats to the fashion industry. That is already in humane, and for such a person like Lady Gaga whose music has touched a lot of people,she should be setting the right example to the world. Instead of using the meat to cover herself, she should donate food to the poor and needy who are desperately in need for food. I really think the PETA organization should look into this matter intensively.

  8. justin says:

    Personally, I have never cared for her shock and awe antics. This is just another case of her trying to push the norm with a half-baked idea with the guise of being political. If you want people to take you seriously you should actually do something that is remotely relevant to the cause you want to support. For instance, comedian Kat Williams wore rope around his neck after there was a incident in the deep south with racism. When asked about it on a news network, cnn i think, he responded by saying that black people in america are not afraid of rope, its the hanging that we were not to fond of.

    • soni1220 says:

      Justin I totally agree with you on this- to promote her support for gays in the US military she should have done something that is relevant to the cause that she wants to support- not something utterly irrelevant to gain unwanted attention, and more yet gain negative publicity in the eyes of many groups of audiences. Similar to comedian Kat Williams, Gandhi, leader of India during the Indian independence movement organised protests by peasants, farmers, and urban labourers concerning excessive land-tax and discrimination. Moreover, Gandhi led nationwide campaigns to ease poverty, expand women’s rights, build religious and ethnic amity, and increase economic self-reliance. Above all, he aimed to achieve the independence of India from foreign domination. Gandhi and his followers led passive protests that protested the British-imposed salt tax. Ghandi wore the traditional Indian shawl, woven from yarn that he had spun by hand himself. He ate simple vegetarian food, experimented for a time with a fruitarian diet, and undertook long fasts as a means of both self-purification and social protest- this take by Gandhi was relevant to the cause he wanted to support, hence was highly respected by the members of the community unlike Lady Gaga.

  9. Valerie Lim says:

    I’m no fan of Lady Gaga, and I think that the outfits that she put on are of the unusual and I do not really like it. I guess, perception is different for every individual, and while I may not like the way he dresses, someone else may think that it is nice.

  10. Madison says:

    Personally I agree with KT Turnstall. How is it different from wearing leather? It’s still product of some dead animal somewhere.

    However I do find it kind of disgusting that she linked it to gay rights when it has no apparent link except deep in her twisted psyche.

  11. heena somani says:

    well fashion is about changing in surprises. DEFINITELY a good thing. however, this dress is total disaster. no doubt a taboo!
    there is no obligation to abide to society’s rules and norms, one can go of the box to enhance their beauty or make a fashion statement. this meat dress does none.
    the cause of wearing the dress is undoubtedly to be appreciated, but the way of presentation is disastrous. and what about animal rights?
    in fashion industry, a dress the celebrity wears makes a fashion trend, this dress promotes animal clothings.
    gaga can choose to be bold, not by a meat dress though.

  12. Arthur says:

    OMG!is she crazy??how can she stand the smell?forget abt the smell,how can she tolerate the position she is in on wearing dead animal on her?she should donate those pieces of meat to people who do not have food at all!I do not think the fashion industry would be pleased with such an act!it totally ruins the meaning of fashion and the meaning of clothes!

  13. rumpy says:

    i agree!leave alone the smell,how could she promote the slaughter of innocent me animals are all innocent and should be treated with i am a vegetarian and an animal lover. what she has done has really aggravated me to a point that i do not even think people should listen to her an artist,she should stick to what she is good at.clearly fashion is not her thing.this is just the most utmost disgusting thing i have ever seen

  14. jeevan says:

    she looks disgusting!how could she even have the courage to stand on stage in front of hundreds of people and be viewed on television by millions and accept an award dressed like that.she knew the type of feedback she would get!yet she did that?i must say she does have courage but its the wrong courage.she should not have violated the rights of wearing such things,already wearing fur is a huge thing but this sends a message to all those crazy fashion moguls to use meat as clothes!

  15. Shareen says:

    Well, i personally don’t think gaga’s entire outfit was necessary. Whether it really was just to raise awareness about homosexuals, or yet another publicity stunt, I think the fact that this was clearly going to upset many people made it a very selfish decison- people are now way more focused on her meat outfit than anything it could have potentially symbolised. Also, as she is already an outspoken spokesperson for this organisation, such a bold statement was not required and she could have easily brought her point across in a better way. Overall, I personally think her theatrics are getting old and she probably did this because there weren’t many other strange outfits left for her to shock people with. Also, i think it’s offensive to many people- she should be far more sensitive as such a prominent figure!

    • Jaspreet Singh Narula says:

      i agree with you shareen.As i was reading past articles on GaGa’s fashion experiments.She always has a reason to pull off something like this.But this was totally uncalled for.And again i agree with you as if she had a point to make she should have done it in the more civilized and well mannered way instead of this.She just wants to cause a stir and wants people to look at her.She wants to be on the cover of the magazines!being a role model to many people,she should have re thunk her decision.

  16. Alisha says:

    I think dressing in meat is weird and different, but I do believe it’s not as bad as you think. There are so many things I disagreed with in this article.

    1. PETA’s statement – ok the animals didn’t want to die. Are they condemning non-vegetarians too then? I don’t think those animals wanted to die either, even if they were breeded for food. If it is to be argued on the level of value (clothing vs. food) I do agree clothing might seem a little disrespectful but at the end of the day it comes to the same thing as consuming meat – would they be happier if she went home n cooked-ate all the pieces she was wearing? The comment on how it would rot and was unattractive was not their’s to make – Gaga can think for herself on that issue.

    2.Kelly Cutrone – does she seriously think that if Gaga hadn’t worn that dress, that world hunger would reduce? Food production is adequate in the world, the problem lies in distribution which is very complicated given the political situations in countries most struck by hunger – countries in Africa. That’s another debate in itself. Did she just think it seemed mean/disrespectful that one didn’t have enough to eat while another could wear food? I can see why one would feel that way but logically it doesn’t change much. If she didn’t wear this, she would have worn something else much more expensive and extravagant – while others still couldn’t afford to eat. So what difference does it make, the meat probably cost less than designer pieces.

    3. Your take – I found it a bit extreme. So it was tolerable to appear almost naked in the past, but now when she’s covered with meat it has reach “the extremes”? I understand that is your perception, I’m just saying mine is a bit different. Her fashion sense has always been bold, crazy and all over the place but I don’t think this was the one that crossed the line. If you talk about social norms, she’s gone passed so many. If an apology was expected of her, it should be a general one, I’m sure many parents were also concerned about the vulgarity in many of her outfits. My point is – I think she’s crazy but this was not the defining moment.
    I don’t think she needs to “apologise” as such, but maybe be more careful in the future. Plus if you think people are going to follow this trend – I think that’s very far fetched. Even if people wanted to try, it would be very impractical for so many reasons which I’m not going to get into – so I do not think it stood a chance of becoming a real dressing trend anyway.
    All in all I think the costume was weird but the matter was not as big as it was portrayed here. Thanks for sharing, it was fun reading.

  17. ssm says:

    Stop butchering animals for the wrong purpose! This is completely inhumane and insane! For Christ sake lady gaga stop all your non-sense act! How low could you stoop down for an award or seek attention in the public! This is completely crazy, you should be sent to jail and even punished for your act! whats your pick?

  18. Poonam says:

    Ridiculous act from popular music artist, lady gaga you stand as a negative impact over the coming generation. You should be accountable for unacceptable act! It’s grose to award you!

  19. Anonymous says:

    I think its disgusting what lady gaga dressed up with.. i am a vegetarian and i am very disturbed that she could use wear meat like this to award ceremony. there are other ways to support gay rights.. Lady Gaga has always had a weird fashion sense and has weird taste however wear meat is completely crazy!

  20. Eddie says:

    The meat dress surely attracts worldwide attention.

    Its creative, but does creativity stand independent of ethics?

    I personally feel that the meat dress is really disgusting, disgusting to look, smelly and yea, you can imagine the things asssociated with rotting flesh.

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