Tems is responding to the divide she caused on the internet over her Oscars dress. On Sunday, she made history by becoming the first Nigerian to ever be nominated for an Oscar for her work on “Lift Me Up”. She certainly dressed the part, wearing a bold white Lever Couture dress with a hood-like feature that reached above her head. And while it was a showstopper on the red carpet, it also proved to be a showstopper, quite literally, for the people sitting behind her.


Twitter erupted during the Oscars ceremony as people shared their opinions on the dress. This Twitter user compared the hood part of the dress to a stratus cloud. This Twitter user said her outfit choice was “rude” and another said that while she looked stunning, the top could’ve been detachable. Her response to the discourse? This simple tweet.

She wasn’t the only one to make light of the chaos. Gasoline Alley star Devon Sawa, in a now-deleted tweet, shared a screenshot of the singer in her seat with an arrow pointing to the row behind her. "I'm seated right here. Good news is, I'm at the Oscars. Bad news is I can't see a thing," he wrote.


Black Twitter, too, made light of the situation, swooning over her style choice, which she says she would’ve said no to two years ago. Speaking to Harper’s Bazaar, she said:

"Two years ago, I would've said no to this dress. But it's my first Oscars — I am going to go all out. I really wanted to make the most of the day. The dress is also my way of celebrating my work and the people around me, celebrating my country, and celebrating the people that are rooting for me. This dress says 'Yes, yes, I am here!'"

As much as the jokes flew back and forth on Sunday, the conversation turned into Black women taking up space at the Oscars. This Twitter user posed the question of whether Tems was really the first person to wear something obstructive to the ceremony.


That same user went on to ask whether director Peter Ramsey, who, in a now-deleted tweet, suggested he’d “kill” Tems over her outfit choice, if he also had that same vitriol for Cher’s famed Bob Mackie headpiece which she wore to the Oscars in 1986.

While the Oscars isn’t the Met Gala, it is still a fashion show. And while this certainly was a stunning piece, even Cher removed her headpiece for the ceremony portion of the evening all those years ago.

There’s a thin line between taking up space and making it difficult for others to enjoy the show. While I don’t think Tems intentionally set out to disrupt anyone’s evening or viewership, I do believe that she wasn’t focused on anything except ripping the red carpet in that dress – and she did just that. She was on a mission to let people know she was there. She was representing for her country, where it is characteristic of traditional garb to feature some sort of headpiece. And she was representing for Black women. In doing that, you have to be unapologetic about it – hence her four letter word response to all the hoopla. 

On Sunday, there were several people asking who she was, ignorant to her accolades which include being a Grammy winner, the first African woman to have five Billboard hits, and the best-selling female artist in all of Africa. They asked and she answered. And while it’s unfortunate that innocent bystanders got caught in the crossfire of her dress, it’s been three days and we’re still talking about it. And I think that was the point.