The infamous meat dress that was worn by Lady Gaga at the 2010 MTV Awards is an outfit that will be talked about for centuries to come. It was a statement piece no one was expecting yet it left an impression either positive or negative on every person. It was worn at the time of the rise of climate change, especially regarding animals. With no other context, this was an art piece that could be interpreted by the viewer.
Many that were vegetarian and vegan took this as a crime against animals. They saw it as offensive and yet another way animals are mistreated for human use. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) released a statement commenting, “Wearing a dress made out cuts of dead cows is offensive enough to bring comment, however, someone should whisper in her ear that there are more people who are upset by butchery than who are impressed by it — and that means a lot of young people will not be buying her records if she keeps this stuff up.” Gaga had also had another encounter with using meat as clothing in the Vogue Hommes Japan cover, where Gaga is seen wearing a meat bikini. Once again with not much context, people could take the cover through their own lens creating their own meaning. The photo of Gaga in a meat bikini is also the cover of a men’s magazine further builds the crime as it is romanticizing such a brutal act done against animals through butchery.
Gaga later went on to talk on The Ellen DeGeneres show to comment on the meaning behind her meat dress-wearing, which she wore once again to the set. She talked about the true meaning behind this art piece saying it was a political statement of the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and how our human rights are being taken away from us to the point where our rights will be only meat and bones. With the context, it better represents the message Gaga was trying to convey with this dress rather than just being seen as an animal cruelty crime. As a joke, Degeneres gave Gaga a bikini and dress made out of kale and lettuce to show the dichotomy between the two yet how they can equally be worn as clothing and art pieces. This truly shows how anything can be worn as clothing and seen as an art piece but the person who has control over the meaning is the viewer. So next time you are looking at an art piece think of the power you have in creating meaning.