Kim Kardashian chose to surprise her fans and viewers by wearing Marilyn Monroe’s famous “Happy Birthday Mr. President” dress to the 2022 Met Gala. However, during the event, Kardashian ripped the iconic dress that Monroe wore when singing to former United States President John F. Kennedy. Wearing the sheath dress made of flesh-colored soufflé fabric embellished with rosette-patterned embroidery and graded rhinestones feels like an insult to the ideals Monroe stood for.
In an interview with Vogue, Kardashian explained that she had to either slim down to fit into the dress or not wear it at all. She continued by describing a strict diet that made her lose 16 pounds in three weeks; however, it leaves the question of whether she ever meant to honor Monroe, who advocated for body positivity. Kardashian’s diet leaves space for questioning whether she ever researched Monroe’s sentiments.
Additionally, the last person to ever wear that celebrated dress was Monroe herself. Conservators and historians expressed regret over the garment’s appearance at the gala because of its historical value and worried that Kardashian wearing it might hinder preservation efforts.
Wearing a duplicate of the original dress would have been a more rational choice. The garment should never have been worn again since it was so unique to Monroe’s figure; it was reportedly sewn directly onto her according to Reader’s Digest. There was also the cultural context in which it was initially worn, in an intimate serenade to Kennedy.
This, however, is not the first and last time that people have scorned historical artifacts in the name of paying tribute or advancing a cause. In Paris, Vincent van Gogh’s painting “Sunflowers” at the London National Gallery was the latest famous artwork targeted by vandals; the artwork was doused with tomato soup. Environmental activists stated that the stunt was an act of protest against fossil fuel production. Even for a good cause, the protestors should have respected the art, as it is a historical artifact.
There are many more examples of people ruining historical artifacts in the name of tribute or protest; this act is illogical and causes more harm than good. Historical artifacts should be left alone for future generations, and people should find another way to pay their respects or prove their points.