Influencer Haley Kalil apologises for ‘let them eat cake’ Met Gala video

Influencer Haley Kalil apologises for ‘let them eat cake’ Met Gala video

Influencer Haley Kalil has issued an apology after facing backlash for a TikTok video of herself taken on the night of the 2024 Met Gala.

Last week, the social media star was criticised online after she posted a video of herself dressed up for this year’s Met Gala – which took place in New York City on Monday 6 May. In the clip, which is now deleted, Kalil could be seen in an elaborate, 18th century-style gown and headdress to commemorate the theme of the Met Gala, “Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion”.

Along with the video, the model chose an audio from Sofia Coppola’s 2006 film Marie Antoinette, in which actor Kirsten Dunst proclaims: “Let them eat cake!”

The viral clip was immediately described as “tone deaf” by critics online, who pointed out the irony of the lavish and expensive Met Gala occurring as pro-Palestine protestors organised outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

“Girl read the room,” one viewer wrote at the time, while another added: “The sound choice that you’re using is wild. We are truly living in a dystopian world.”

Kalil, who has 9.9m followers on the platform under the username @haleyybaylee, later took to TikTok to share a lengthy apology for the controversial clip.

“Hey, guys, I know what a lot of you guys want from me right now is answers, and I want nothing more than to give them to you. Hopefully, I can answer every question that you have about what happened on Monday night,” she began the video, which has been viewed nearly 30m times.

In the eight-minute video, Kalil explained that she was contacted by the E! Network to host its pre-Met Gala coverage at The Mark hotel in Manhattan. While she didn’t receive an invitation to the exclusive fashion event, where tickets start at $50,000 per person, the Sports Illustrated model maintained that she was nowhere near the actual Met Gala.

“The Met is one of the most exclusive events in all of fashion. You have to be hand-picked by Anna Wintour herself to go,” Kalil said, referring to the Vogue editor-in-chief, who carefully presides over every Met Gala guest list. “That’s the only way that you get there. I was not invited by Anna Wintour. I did not hold an actual invitation to the Met Gala. I was involved only as a host, meaning that the moment that the last attendee left the hotel, I went home and I watched the Met Gala coverage from my couch with my friends.”

Kalil shared that “one of [her] biggest dreams” since she was little has been to attend the Met Gala, which is why she jumped at the opportunity to create pre-Met Gala content for E!. She explained that her floral gown and headpiece were also custom designed by her friend, Marc Bouwer.

While addressing the backlash to the TikTok’s audio – which declared, “Let them eat cake” – the influencer admitted that she would’ve “never” used the audio snippet if she had known that it would offend viewers.

“First and foremost, before I say anything, I need to apologise,” Kalil said. “I am so, so, so sorry that I chose a sound that you guys could ever possibly feel was malicious in nature. If I had thought for even one second that the sound would be received that way, I never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever would have used it.”

Haley Kalil poses outside The Mark Hotel for the 2024 Met Gala (Getty Images for The Mark Hotel)
Haley Kalil poses outside The Mark Hotel for the 2024 Met Gala (Getty Images for The Mark Hotel)

Kalil noted that the popular audio had been trending on TikTok, and has been used in more than 110,000 videos. She pointed out that the audio received “no negative feedback” when used by makeup artists to showcase their Marie Antoinette-inspired makeup looks, and claimed it “truly had no deeper meaning” to the audio.

“I never would have chosen a sound on purpose to highlight wealth disparity or elitism. I never even thought it would be taken in that way, because I wasn’t elite enough to even be invited to the Met Gala because I’m not elite. I’m a normal person,” the model said. “My dumb self just used an audio that I thought was viral and trending and that people recognised from the Marie Antoinette 2006 movie. I didn’t think that much into it, and for that I am so sorry. I did not do my due diligence.”

Kalil went on to call herself “so stupid” for not realising how the audio would’ve been interpreted amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. The United Nations’ World Food Program recently warned that some 300,000 people in northern Gaza are suffering from a “full-blown” famine, while the entire 2.3 million population of Gaza is experiencing catastrophic levels of hunger.

“I’m so stupid because the things going on in the world today are weighing heavily on everyone’s hearts,” Kalil continued. “Innocent men, women, and children are dying. People do not have access to food and water. People are being kicked out of their homes. There are so many things going on in this world that are just wrong.”

However, the model clarified that she’s previously avoided using her platform to discuss the Israel-Hamas war because she’s “not informed enough” to talk about world issues “in a meaningful and educational way”.

“I do not have the background knowledge to educate or discuss in a meaningful way,” she said, noting that she rose to internet fame for posting comedic content on social media. Most notably, Kalil went viral last year when she gave a tour of her Manhattan apartment, which costs $17,000 a month.

“I love making videos and that’s how I gained my platform, but that doesn’t mean that the second I started gaining followers on the platform that I automatically knew the right thing to say when it came to world affairs, or wars, or disputes, or death, or destruction, or crisis,” she said.

While Kalil maintained that it’s her “responsibility” as an influencer to “be a good example” for her audience, she also claimed that “just because somebody has a following doesn’t mean they’re necessarily the right person” to speak about certain topics.

“At the end of the day, I want to make sure that my words are used for good, and when I don’t think that I’m informed enough on a situation, I try not to comment until I am confident that I am actually informed and the things that I’m saying are true,” she said.

“Sometimes I am dumb and sometimes I mess up. Sometimes I don’t correctly anticipate how people will react or feel to something, and for that I am truly, so, so, so, so sorry,” Kalil said. “It breaks my heart that a video that I posted has added to any of this. It breaks my heart that a video that I posted has made anyone feel less seen or less heard.”

Despite the backlash, the influencer shared that she was grateful how her “unintentional mistake” has sparked an online discussion about “wealth inequality” and “world crisis”.

“It is my job as a content creator to apologise whenever I make anyone feel unseen or unheard, even if it’s unintentional. Just know that no matter what, I love you. Thank you for being here, and thank you for watching this whole video if you made it this far,” Kalil concluded her apology.