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    24 Times Celebrities Used Their Red Carpet Outfits To Make A Statement

    I had no idea about the meaning behind Lady Gaga's meat dress!

    For many celebrities, a red carpet outfit is a way to get people talking. The outfit an attendee chooses can make them go viral, turn them into a meme, or secure their place in Hollywood fashion history. As the cameras flash, all eyes are on them — and some celebs have used that moment to make an important statement.

    The Recording Academy / Via

    Here are 24 times celebrities used their red carpet outfits to send a message:

    1. Lady Gaga wore her iconic meat dress to the 2010 VMAs as a protest against the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in the US military, which prevented service members from being open about their sexuality.

    "Born This Way" singer
    Gregg Deguire / FilmMagic / Via Getty

    She told Ellen, "If we don’t stand up for what we believe in and if we don’t fight for our rights...pretty soon we’re going to have as much rights as the meat on our bones.”

    Earlier in the ceremony, she walked the red carpet with several members of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, an organization for veterans whose careers had been adversely affected by DADT.

    The policy was fully repealed on Sept. 11, 2011. 

    2. Tracee Ellis Ross, Octavia Spencer, Jessica Chastain, and many other celebrities wore all black at the 2018 Golden Globes in support of the Time's Up movement, in which many survivors spoke out about sexual harassment and abuse.

    "The High Note" actor, "Ma" actor, and "Ava" actor
    Axelle/Bauer-Griffin / FilmMagic / David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images / Via Getty

    The other attendees who participated included Angelina Jolie, Tarana Burke, Michelle Williams, Issa Rae, Mandy Moore, Sterling K. Brown, and Chris Hemsworth. You can read a full list here.

    3. At the 2021 Oscars, Travon Free wore a Dolce & Gabbana suit jacket with the names of people who were killed because of police brutality in the US written on its lining.

    Handout / A.M.P.A.S. via Getty Images

    He was nominated for the short film he codirected, Two Distant Strangers, which deals with the theme of police brutality.

    Speaking about the film, Free told Vanity Fair, "Last summer, we were all marching in protest, just about every day for a couple of weeks. Thinking about all the names — George and Breonna and all the other names you see on signs — I was thinking about how you internalize the emotions each time one of those stories happens. At least as a Black person, you cycle through being really angry, and then you’re sad, and then you feel a bit of hopelessness. Sometimes it starts up again before you can even finish talking about the last killing...It just feels like the worst version of Groundhog Day. I wanted to put that on the page and see if I could get people to feel what that feels like, even a little bit.”

    4. At the 2019 Emmys, Laverne Cox carried a rainbow Edie Parker clutch that said, "Oct. 8, Title VII, Supreme Court" on one side and "#TRANSISBEAUTIFUL" along with the transgender pride flag on the other, drawing attention to a Supreme Court hearing regarding the clarity of how protections from employment discrimination for members of the LGBTQ+ community fit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

    "Orange Is The New Black" actor
    Dan MacMedan / WireImage / Frazer Harrison / Getty Images / Via Getty

    Her stylist, Christina Joy Pacelli, told Vogue, "This is a very important hearing that will affect the future of LGBTQ rights...Laverne took the opportunity to shine a light on its importance with her Emmys fashion.”

    Cox told E!, "A lot of people aren't talking about this case, and it has implications for the LGBT community. But it has implication for women and anyone who doesn't conform to someone else's idea of how you should be... A man or woman or neither!"

    In 2020, she auctioned off a replica of her clutch to support the New York City Anti-Violence Project. 

    On June 15, 2020, the Supreme Court ruled that LGBTQ+ employees are protected from discrimination on the basis on sex under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

    5. In 1972, Jane Fonda won her first Oscar while the Vietnam War was still going on, so, feeling that it was a time for seriousness and "not a time for showy dresses," she wore an off-the-rack Yves Saint Laurent pantsuit she purchased herself.

    "Flute" actor
    Bettmann / Bettmann Archive / Via Getty

    At the time, she said, "I felt it suited the somber times. Besides, I wasn’t into buying fancy dresses when the Vietnam War was still being fought...I wore something that made a statement."

    Shortly before her nomination, she'd taken a trip to Vietnam herself, where she spoke out against the US's involvement in the war.

    6. In the wake of then President Trump's plan to eject people who were brought to the US as children, Padma Lakshmi wore a blue ACLU ribbon to the 2017 Emmy Awards in support of the DREAM Act, which would them grant permanent legal status and create a path to citizenship for them.

    "Top Chef" host
    Axelle/Bauer-Griffin / FilmMagic / Jeff Kravitz / FilmMagic / Via Getty

    Lakshmi, who is also an ambassador the ACLU, told Elle, "I came to this country as an immigrant myself, and I think it’s important we remember that America is what it is because we’re a nation of immigrants. It’s also important for America to keep our word...We told [the DREAMers] it’s safe, we fingerprinted them, and now we’re saying, ‘No, you’re illegal again.’ It’s unthinkable.”

    Several other celebrities, including Kumail Nanjiani, Riz Ahmed, Elisabeth Moss, Kathryn Hahn, Ann Dowd, and Matt Walsh also wore ACLU ribbons. At the Oscars a few months prior, Lin Manuel Miranda, Karlie Kloss, Emma Stone, and Ruth Negga wore the pins.

    In March 2021, the most recent version of the DREAM Act was passed in the House of Representatives, but it has yet to be voted on in the Senate. If it's fully approved, President Biden has promised to sign it into law.

    7. Joaquin Phoenix wore the same Stella McCartney tuxedo throughout the 2020 awards season to promote sustainable fashion and reduce waste.

    "Joker" actor
    Axelle / FilmMagic / Via Getty

    He wore the same tux to five different events.

    8. At the 2019 Country Music Awards, Jennifer Nettles wore a Christian Siriano pantsuit and a cape with "Play our f*@#in records, please and thank you" written across it by artist Alice Mizrachi to draw attention to the lack of women artist playing on country radio.

    "Stuck Like Glue" singer
    Taylor Hill / Getty Images

    She told Rolling Stone, "When I heard the CMAs were going to be celebrating women, and I was going to be invited, I thought, 'What a fantastic opportunity to take the conversation beyond applause and beyond the ritual, and actually try and further it and put it out into the public consciousness, and send a message to the industry as well.”

    9. At the 2020 Oscars, Spike Lee wore a purple and gold suit (Lakers colors) with the number 24 embroidered on the front lapels and the back as a tribute to the late Kobe Bryant.

    "Da 5 Bloods" director
    Ian West - Pa Images / PA Images via Getty Images

    He also wore Nike's Kobe 9 high-top sneakers.

    In 2019, Lee directed the documentary Kobe Doin' Work.

    10. At the 2021 Met Gala, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wore a gown with "TAX THE RICH" emblazoned on the back in big, red letters.

    New York Representative in Congress
    Jamie Mccarthy / Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue

    On Instagram, she said, "The medium is the message. The time is now for childcare, healthcare, and climate action for all. Tax the Rich."

    She also explained that she attended because "NYC elected officials are regularly invited to and attend the Met due to our responsibilities in overseeing our city’s cultural institutions that serve the public." 

    11. At the 2021 Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards, Zendaya paid homage to Eunice Walker Johnson, the business owner who founded the Ebony Fashion Fair to showcase haute couture fashion by and for Black women, by wearing a vintage YSL outfit the trailblazer previously owned.

    "Dune" actor
    Randy Shropshire / Getty Images for ESSENCE

    The outfit was borrowed from the personal collection of Law Roach, Zendaya's stylist.

    12. At the 2017 SAG Awards, Kerry Washington wore a safety pin on her dress as a symbol of solidarity with those who felt threatened by President Trump's rhetoric regarding immigration.

    "Scandal" actor
    Steve Granitz / WireImage / Kevin Mazur / Getty Images for TNT / Via Getty

    On Instagram, she wrote, "We will not stop fighting for our safety and the safety of our fellow citizens and human beings."

    Following the 2016 presidential election, the safety pin as a symbol of solidarity was adopted in the US from a movement that began in the UK to protest Brexit. It was meant to subtly tell others, "You are safe with me."

    13. To promote sustainability, the bodice of Saoirse Ronan's Gucci dress from the 2020 Oscars was upcycled from the black gown she wore to the BAFTAs.

    "Lady Bird" actor
    Samir Hussein / WireImage / Amy Sussman / Getty Images / Via Getty

    Designer Alessandro Michele made the original BAFTAs gown from discarded satin, which was also a sustainable choice.

    14. At the 2020 Billboard Music Awards, a few months ahead of the presidential election, Lizzo wore a black Christian Siriano dress with "VOTE" written across it multiple times, and she used her acceptance speech to draw attention to voter suppression.

    "Truth Hurts" singer
    Nbc / NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

    When she took the stage to accept the Top Song Sales Artist award, she said, "I've been thinking a lot about suppression and the voices that refused to be suppressed. I wonder, would I be standing here right now if it weren't for the big Black women who refused to have their voices be suppressed? ...Whether it's through music, protest, or your right to vote, use your power, use your voice, and refuse to be suppressed."

    15. Jenifer Lewis attended the 2018 Emmy Awards in head-to-toe Nike attire to "applaud them for supporting Colin Kaepernick and his protest against racial injustice and police brutality."

    "Black-ish" actor
    Dan Macmedan / Getty Images

    Explaining her thought process, she told Variety, "What can I do? What can I do that’s meaningful? I’ll wear Nike. I’ll wear Nike to say thank you. Thank you for leading the resistance! We need more corporate America to stand up also.”

    16. At the 2018 Golden Globes, Connie Britton wore a sweater that said "poverty is sexist" because "nowhere in the world are women economically equal to men, nor do they have the same economic opportunities as men — and that inequality is even worse for girls and women in the world’s poorest countries."

    "Promising Young Woman" actor
    George Pimentel / WireImage / Via Getty

    The sweater's $380 price tag sparked criticism on Twitter, but some users pointed out that it was a reasonable price for the ethically made, hand-embroidered cashmere sweater designed by Rachelle Hruska MacPherson, who donated a portion of the proceeds to charities that support women.

    In an essay for Entertainment Weekly, Britton wrote, "So women around the world are more deeply entrenched in the effects of poverty, and they have fewer opportunities to escape. In other words: Poverty is sexist."

    17. As the first Black woman to host the CFDA Awards in 2018, Issa Rae wore five different outfits, all of which were created by Black designers.

    "The Hate U Give" actor
    Kevin Mazur / WireImage / Via Getty

    One of the five looks included a belt with Boris Gardiner lyrics.

    18. At the 1992 Oscars, Elizabeth Taylor wore an Aids Awareness Red Ribbon.

    "Cleopatra" actor
    Kypros / Getty Images

    The symbol was created in 1991 by the Visual AIDS Artists Caucus. 

    In 1993, Taylor was awarded the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for her AIDs activism. In her acceptance speech, she said, "I call upon you to draw from the depths of your being to prove that we are a human race, to prove that our love outweighs our need to hate, that our compassion is more compelling than our need to blame, that our sensitivity of those in need is stronger than our greed, that our ability to reason overcomes our fear and that at the end of each of our lives we can look back and be proud that we have treated others with the kindness, dignity and respect that every human being deserves.”

    19. At the 2015 VMAs, Amber Rose and Blac Chyna wore nude outfits painted with misogynist insults that have been hurled at them as a stance against slut-shaming.

    Axelle / FilmMagic / Via Getty

    Chyna told Kelly Osbourne, "We’re painting a picture of what everybody already says about us."

    Rose, who's organized several Amber Rose SlutWalk marches to protest rape culture, added, "They call us sluts and whores all the time, so we just embrace it.”

    20. At the 2017 Academy Awards, Emma Stone wore a gold pin in support of Planned Parenthood.

    "La La Land" actor
    Jason LaVeris / FilmMagic / Ian West/PA Images via Getty Images

    Dakota Johnson wore a similar pin on her clutch.

    At the time, then President Trump had just defunded the organization through an executive order. In April 2021, the Biden administration ended that decision. 

    21. At the 2019 Met Gala, which was themed "Camp: Notes on Fashion," Lena Waithe wore a Pyer Moss suit that said "Black drag queens invented camp" on the back as a reminder to her fellow attendees.

    "Master of None" actor
    Kevin Tachman/MG19 / Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue / Kevin Mazur/MG19 / Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue / Via Getty

    She told E! News, "To me, I really wanted to make sure my outfit represented the Black drag queens who started this camp thing about being over the top and all that jazz...People like RuPaul, all these pioneers who really started this whole thing and I really wanted to pay tribute to them."

    22. At the 2015 Golden Globes, George and Amal Clooney wore "Je Suis Charlie" pins in support of press freedom and the Charlie Hebdo newspaper staff who were the victims of terrorist attacks in Paris.

    "The Midnight Sky" actor and lawyer
    Jason Merritt / Getty Images

    Other attendees, including Helen Mirren, Kathy Bates, and Alexandre Desplat carried signs bearing the same message of support.  

    23. Representative Carolyn Maloney wore a suffragette-inspired dress with sashes that said "equal rights for women" to the 2021 Met Gala in support of the Equal Rights Act, which would add the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sex to the US Constitution.

    New York representative
    Taylor Hill / WireImage / Via Getty

    On Twitter, she said, "As the Met Costume Institute reopens [with] their inaugural exhibit celebrating American designers, I am calling [for] the certification of the ERA so women can be equal once and for all."

    24. And finally, Aunjanue Ellis, who is a Mississippi native, wore a dress with "Take it down Mississippi" written across it the the 2016 NAACP Image Awards in protest of the Mississippi state flag, which was the last US state flag to feature imagery of the Confederate flag.

    "The Help" actor
    Tommaso Boddi / WireImage / Via Getty

    In 2015, she told TIME, "So letʼs take the scorched-earth debate of the 'heritage not hate of the Confederacy' out of it, because this is about choices the state made AFTER the dissolution of the Confederacy. This is about a state in the United States of America sharing iconography with a terrorist organization... I can see it: a new flag, a new Mississippi. We are not a flag. We are a people, a glorious people."

    In January 2021, Mississippi ratified a new state flag, which no longer features any part of the Confederate flag. 73% of Mississippi voters approved the new design.