The ugly side of the Met Gala was out in full force this week, we just didn't talk about it.

I have never been in the presence of Anna Wintour, yet I feel safe in the assumption that she would not appreciate her beloved Met Gala being compared to a creature such as the Golden Poison Dart Frog. And yet the two things have a lot in common.

The frog, while beautiful to the human eye and striking to look at, is also known to be one of the most toxic animals on Earth. While the Met Gala, an annual fundraising event held for the benefit of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute in Manhattan and chaired by Vogue editor-in-chief Wintour, is now seen as one of the most fashionable red carpet events in the world, beneath the surface it has a tendency to omit its own kind of poison.

Even though most of humankind will never be invited to walk up those bedazzled steps on the first Monday in May, every year when the event rolls around we all share a collective excitement for the pageantry and prestige that comes with it. 

Somehow, over the years, we have begun to find the same level of comfort and escapism in a group of obscenely wealthy people wearing opulent clothes as we do when watching a rom-com while snuggled on the couch, with an assortment of treats in easy reach.

But alongside that glorious escapism sits a conversation that we would all rather push below the surface.

Listen to The Spill hosts discuss the Met Gala story no one wants to believe. 

At the 2022 Met Gala, Kim Kardashian infamously wore the same glittering Jean-Louis crafted dress that Marilyn Monroe wore to serenade President John F. Kennedy on his 45th birthday in 1962, yet it was her pre-event activities that garnered more attention than the gown itself. 


Speaking to Vogue at the event, Kardashian revealed that she had put herself through quite a brutal process in order to drastically change her body in a short amount of time so she could wear the dress, saying: "I would wear a sauna suit twice a day, run on the treadmill, completely cut out all sugar and all carbs, and just eat the cleanest veggies and protein."

Her words were likened to a starvation diet, and the fact that she had her hotel room piled with pizza and doughnuts after the event to celebrate sticking to her plan raised concerns that the reality star and business owner was promoting a dangerous bingeing and starving plan around food consumption.

While her words were dangerous in the promotion of toxic diet culture as a means of celebration and society's ongoing love affair with thin bodies, there was a brutal necessity to her words. In this interview, Kardashian was simply voicing the acceptable standard within the entertainment and fashion industry, and via a trickle-down effect, the world in which we all live in.

This year, Kardashian's Met Gala look once again made headlines, but not due to the pilling cardigan she was dramatically clutching around her shoulders or the last-minute braid her newly bleached hair was elegantly woven into. Instead, all eyes were on her Maison Margiela couture gown, which featured an extremely tight corset, making her waist seem almost unworldly with how minuscule it appeared.

While there was an extreme amount of praise for how elegant Kardashian looked, a difficult conversation quickly arose around the corset feature of her gown. For as much as it is damaging to discuss other people's bodies, the dangerous history of the corset, and both Kardashian and the fashion industry's history with it, cannot be ignored.


Kardashian has long glamorised and promoted objects such as corsets and waist trainers, and her Vogue video, which chronicled her getting-ready process in the lead-up to the 2024 gala, focused heavily on a team of people pulling the corset onto her in an attempt to make her waist appear as tiny as possible.

Research has found that corsets and waist trainers can lead to extreme health complications, including a reduction in lung capacity, a weakened pelvic floor, gastrointestinal symptoms, rashes and infections, and organ damage including to the liver, kidneys, and bladder.

While Kardashian has become the most prominent poster child for extreme diet and body measures in the lead-up to prestige nights such as the Met Gala, it's important to note that this is the standard that bubbles away beneath the surface of such events. The SKIMS founder simply attracts the most attention for saying the secret part of the industry out loud and wearing her extreme measures like a badge of honour.

Yet she is just one of the many taking part in behaviour such as this in order to adhere to the beauty and body standards that lead to success.

Kim Kardashian at the 2024 Met Gala. Image: Getty


In the run-up to the Met Gala, actress and producer Jessica Biel said she bathed in extremely hot water and 9kg of Epsom salts — and while she didn't specifically say it was done to alter her body for the event, her followers and commentators did suggest that it was an attempt at a quick weight loss method before the event kicked off. A conversation around the weight-loss 'benefits' of bathing in Epsom salts quickly sprung up across numerous publications and social media feeds, although this information has never been scientifically proven.

Whether that was Biel's goal or not remains unknown, but the conversation around her words showed that the public is more attuned to the extreme elements that go on behind the scenes at events such as this than ever before.

On a different note, actress, author and producer Mindy Kaling was widely lauded as one of the best-dressed stars of the 2024 Met Gala, wearing a beautifully crafted gown by Indian designer Gaurav Gupta. Kaling has always spoken about her love of fashion and the joy she gets from wrapping herself in beautiful clothes, and in the past has written eloquently in her books about designers and stylists not having clothes for her ahead of big events and photoshoots because she was not seen as traditionally thin.


In her own words, she was never considered a style icon and was always left to pull on a dull navy blue dress. Yet in recent years, as her body appeared smaller, she has now been elevated to a status level she always should have had: that of a woman worthy of magazine covers and a spot on the best-dressed list.

Kaling's body is her own business, yet her presence at the Met Gala is an unfortunate reminder of how strong the currency around smaller bodies remains.

When it comes to one of the ugliest sides of the Met Gala and other events like it, singer and songwriter Sam Smith summed it up best. When asked on this year's Met Gala carpet about what they would like to see in the future when it comes to fashion, they quickly replied, "clothes in my size in stores".

A timely reminder that fashion, on countless levels and at many budgets, remains exclusionary to all people whose bodies exist outside of a specific smaller size.

And so despite what Anna Wintour has to say about the matter, the Met Gala remains grouped in with the Golden Poison Dart Frog: beautiful to look at, but toxic under the surface.

Laura Brodnik is Mamamia's Head of Entertainment and host of The Spill podcast. You can follow her on Instagram here for more entertainment news and recommendations.

Feature Image: Getty.