Malta’s Eurovision Song Contest participant Destiny Chukunyere says that she feels confident in her chosen outfit for the performance, despite criticism on social media.
Destiny is in Rotterdam preparing for the contest. On Sunday evening she performed the first dress rehearsal of Je Me Casse, wearing a neon-pink tasseled outfit and matching knee-high boots. Her dancers were styled in the same pink look.
Her outfit sparked a range of comments, from those who said it showed her confidence and matched the empowering message of the song, to others criticising it as 'tacky' and unflattering.
'This is no gimmick'
Speaking at a Eurovision press conference held after her performance, Destiny was asked why she likes her outfit choice, which was described as a ‘bold, Beyonce-like’ look.
“I feel confident in it and that is what matters. I look beautiful! I’m very happy with my look,” Destiny said. “I chose it because I feel confident in it, I can move, I can shake and shimmy,” she said.
She explained that her song was all about women feeling confident in their own skin and knowing their worth.
“We should not let social media influence us, because we are so beautiful. I want to make women out there feel good and confident about themselves.”
Writing on Facebook later on Monday, Destiny reiterated that she was comfortable with what she wore.
"Maybe I am not the size six society is used to, maybe the dress or image is more important than an artist’s performance, but I am here to do my job.
"This is no gimmick. This is my real life story."
Former Times of Malta contributor Mel Hart, who has previously written about body-shaming and social media, praised Destiny's choice.
"Clothes do not define women. Our actions do," Hart wrote.
Two former Labour MEPs also spoke up about Destiny's outfit choice, presenting contrasting views.
Claudette Abela Baldacchino said that she admired Destiny's outfit, as she would have never thought of wearing such outfits when she was 'big'.
"It's not about the wardrobe... it's about the dominant discourse that big women should not wear like that (...) but with women like Destiny things might one day change..."
However former Labour MEP Marlene Mizzi called Destiny's outfit choice a ”wardrobe disfunction".
"OMG!! Dawn bis-serjeta? (Are they serious?) Fire the wardrobe person/s (no idea who they are) before it is too late."
Ira Losco, who placed second in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2002, wrote on social media that "if you can't say anything nice, then don't say anything at all."
Destiny has been at the top of bookmakers' Eurovision odds for months. But after last night's performance, France is now leading, with Malta slipping into second.
The 18-year-old singer was originally due to represent Malta in the 2020 edition of the Europe-wide contest, but saw that dream shattered when the Eurovision was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Destiny will sing in the first semi-final on Tuesday, May 18, with the hopes of performing at the final on Saturday, May 22.