Rose McGowan reflects on 1998 VMAs dress: 'I hadn't really ever dealt with global media shaming'

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Rose McGowan is looking back at her fashion choice for the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards.

In an interview with Yahoo! Entertainment, McGowan ‒ who has spoken about the dress on several occasions ‒ says she's analyzed her decision over the years.

"It was kind of hard," the actress and activist, 46, told the outlet. "I hadn't really ever dealt with global media shaming. But it prepared me for later on it happening to me a whole bunch. It was also like, ‘Sorry you're square and I'm not bummer.'"

She noted that she's also asked herself: "Why did I do that?’"

Rose McGowan at the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards.
(Photo by Siemoneit/Sygma via Getty Images)

"I've had to look at that," explained McGowan. "You know, when you do stuff sometimes on instinct and in a mood, like when a mood overtakes you on, you analyze what it was that brought you to that mood or that choice. So, I've certainly had a lot of time to analyze and I'm looking at the timeline. But I completely understand why I did what I did."

Ultimately, McGowan wore the dress ‒ a sheer black shimmery beaded number paired with a leopard thong ‒ for a very specific reason.

"It was my first big public appearance after being sexually assaulted,” McGowan told the outlet. “I just felt like, ‘Oh Hollywood, would you want a body just that you can use and throw away? Then I've got one for you!’"

She added: "It was like at the end of 'Gladiator' when he [Russell Crowe's character] comes out and he's like, ‘Are you not entertained?’ And if you look at me, I did it with power."

"I didn't do it with my hand on my hip to be sexy. … Most of the women that are dressed like that on the red carpet, it's a calculated, sexy move to turn people on," McGowan explained. "Mine was like, ‘I’m gonna f*** with your brain. I'm going to blow your brain up.’ And nobody had done it."

McGowan was one of the first women to speak out in The New York Times and The New Yorker in October 2018 when news broke about Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s decades of alleged sexual misconduct and assault. She alleged the now-disgraced movie mogul raped her at his hotel during the Sundance Film Festival in 1997.

Rose McGowan.
(Getty Images)

Weinstein ‒ who was sentenced to 23 years in prison earlier this year after being convicted for third-degree rape and a criminal sex act against two other women ‒ has denied the allegation.

According to Yahoo! Entertainment, McGowan's then-beau Marilyn Manson, who she attended the televised ceremony with, also didn't know the reason behind McGowan's risqué fashion.

“[The Weinstein assault] happened before I went out with him. …I didn't tell him because what happened,” she told the outlet.

McGowan recalled: “I did tell him later — well, he found out because he would ask my friend, ‘What's wrong with this girl? She wakes up screaming at night and soaking wet in the bed and the sheets are wet. She does it every night, like two or three times a night.’ I would have terrible nightmares, PTSD stuff. So, we had to talk about it then."


Overall, McGowan said she's not a big fan of the red carpet.

“You have these big men, a hundred of them yelling at the top of their voice trying to get you to look at them, but your body doesn't understand why it's being screamed at and aggressed on. … I'm like, ‘I feel like I'm being shot with guns right now,'" she told Yahoo! Entertainment.

Fox News’ Stephanie Nolasco contributed to this report

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