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Born This Weigh

April 24, 2012

Trigger warning: Discussion of Lady Gaga’s eating disorders.

Lady Gaga has come a long way since 2008, when she plastered a lightning bolt on her face and recorded a music video in someone’s house telling us to “just dance.”

In four short years, she has become one of the biggest pop singers in musical history. Although not quite authentic (there’s a lot of Elton John, David Bowie, Missing Persons’ Dale Bozzio and Madonna in her), there are some really cool qualities about her. She’s a supporter of LGBT rights, speaks out against bullying and tells everyone to accept themselves for who they are. She also has a killer voice, as shown here in a piano-only performance of Eh, Eh.

But she’s made some blunders, such as riding in a wheelchair and pretending to be physically disabled in her Paparazzi video, then rolling onto stage in a wheelchair at a Sydney, Australia concert. In response, fans threw eggs at her.

Now, a new controversy calls into question her sincerity about self-acceptance.

Last week, on Twitter she wrote, “Just killed back to back spin classes. Eating a salad dreaming of a cheeseburger #PopSingersDontEat#IwasBornThisWay.” Her tweet riled up both fans and eating disorder experts. For a woman who admitted to becoming bulimic while she was in ballet class, her tweet smacks of hypocrisy and makes me wonder if she’s learned anything from her past experiences.

This isn’t the first time Gaga has made these kinds of remarks. Last year she was quoted in New York magazine saying “Pop stars should not eat.” At the time, nobody was really sure if she was being serious or snarky, but with her latest comment, you have to wonder if she is being serious.

You can’t deny she has changed in the few years she’s been around:

Lady Gaga in the Poker Face video

A little more filled out during her Poker Face days.

Lady Gaga in her Born This Way video

A lot thinner in her Born This Way era.

To play devil’s advocate, maybe she’s just evolving and reinventing herself for the pop music industry, which thrives on change. Also, it’s her body and what she does with it is really nobody’s business but hers.

However, she has taken it upon herself to be the spokesperson for loving yourself as you truly are and not caring what anyone thinks. This one singer has a wide variety of fans, young and old, from all different racial, gender, body shape and economic backgrounds.  If this is the message she wants to relay to her fans, and to the world, then shouldn’t she embrace that message for herself as well?

Or perhaps, just maybe, she’s taken it upon herself to be that spokesperson because she hasn’t quite reached that stage yet of self-acceptance — of being “born this way” — and needs us to do it for her. It’s something to definitely think about.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. kokoba permalink
    April 24, 2012 10:45 am

    To be fair: one image is a live performance. The other is from the music video, where the whole look is going for “as freaky as possible.” If you look at a live performance of “Born This Way” she doesn’t look NEARLY that thin.

    And while I’m all for a wider range of body types (especially larger ones), I don’t think it’s fair to criticize her for (maybe? I think the video image had a lot of digital manipulation) losing weight, not in the same way it’s fair to criticize her for being ableist.

    I mean, never mind that the weight loss might even be a side effect of something else entirely: drug use, grief, illness, eating disorder, etc. The fact remains, as you said, that it’s Lady Gaga’s body and she can do whatever she damn well pleases with it. Snarking her for maybe being thinner isn’t any better than someone snarking me for getting fatter, IMO.

    Incidentally, I think THIS instance of pop star body morphing/weight loss is worthy of a lot more criticism; because they’re a K-pop band they don’t really get much press in English.

    This is an instance that seems much less “oh it was incidental” and much more “we are conforming to certain norms and expectations and were pressured into it,” especially given the differences between the K-pop industry and the American music industry.

    • April 24, 2012 10:53 am

      Haha, it’s late. Just realized the top image is also from the Poker Face video. I do think my point stands, though…one video could be more edited than the other, and it’s still Lady Gaga’s body to do with what she damn well pleases.

    • April 25, 2012 8:54 am

      I don’t think this post is about body-bashing Gaga, I think the point is more about her Tweet and interview comments about over-exercising and under-eating. Most importantly, (a) her overall message is about self-acceptance, yet these recent tweets and comments seem to display that she is not accepting of her own body; and (b) she has great power to influence (especially young) minds, and IMHO she should be more careful about perpetuating the idea that disordered eating and disordered exercising are “okay.”

  2. April 24, 2012 11:08 am

    I just wrote a huge comment and lost connection when I hit post comment so it was lost. But the gist of it was that sometimes people choose causes that are near and dear to them for a reason, and it’s not totally uncommon for some activists to still be struggling with them. I see activists speaking out against domestic violence while they may be having abuse problems at home. It actually happens quite a bit. I think sometimes people try to teach themselves while simultaneously trying to teach others, and as long as Gaga realizes she is still struggling and is making an effort to be healthy, I won’t consider her a hypocrite.

  3. JeninCanada permalink
    April 24, 2012 8:36 pm

    “Or perhaps, just maybe, she’s taken it upon herself to be that spokesperson because she hasn’t quite reached that stage yet of self-acceptance…” This is most likely what’s going on with the comments and tweets. Having said that, I think including the two pics of Gaga in this post smacks of body shaming.

    • April 24, 2012 10:51 pm

      I’m afraid I beg to differ here. Bree said nothing specifically disparaging her appearance. Bree is not saying that Lady Gaga is ugly, that she’s a skinny bitch, or anything meant to be hurtful to her as a person. She is merely putting up photos, photos that are widely available to the public, to illustrate her point. In order for body shaming to happen, someone has to actually make comments that shame someone’s body. I just don’t see how that applies here.

      Lady Gaga is a public figure whose career is based largely on maintaining a certain image. She agreed to fill this role. She agreed to be photographed, interviewed, and videotaped. Furthermore, Lady Gaga has also built her career on the importance of self-acceptance and shared troubled elements of her past. If she makes appearances that contradict the stated purpose of her career and/or that highlight her troubled past, it’s not out of line for audiences to comment on it.

      • April 24, 2012 11:36 pm

        The tone does come across more as “How dare you lose weight, Lady Gaga” and less “If she has a problem I hope she recovers” / “It’s sad what being a pop star does to people” /etc. The “how dare you” tone is judgmental enough for me to also find it a bit too close for body shaming for my tastes.

        • Mulberry permalink
          April 25, 2012 9:55 am

          It’s not Lady Gaga being snarked at. It’s the unspoken, ironclad rule that pop stars should be thin. Even Lady Gaga, who can presumably do what she wants, is subject to this rule. She knows that if she doesn’t follow it, she’ll be pitilessly kicked off her perch and her weight would be the only thing people would talk about. She has less actual power than you’d think.

  4. April 25, 2012 11:01 am

    I don’t see Bree as snarking or body shaming so much as pointing out the fact that the woman who claims to advocate for self-acceptance does not seem to have accepted her own body since it seems like she lost weight between the launch of her career and “Born This Way,” which is a perfectly normal reason to be suspect. Coupled with her tweets, it seems like Lady Gaga is either trying to lose weight or maintain a low weight. And while those who say this is largely out of her control (lest she fall from her perch as top pop star), it’s also true that she has made herself a role model for self-acceptance. That position of role model is a powerful one, and when she sends a tweet acknowledging that she deprives herself of what she wants in order to lose/maintain weight sends a dangerous message to all of those who are counting on her as an example of self-acceptance.

    What do her fans do if their self-acceptance role model seems to be lacking self-acceptance herself? Compare Gaga with Adele and you can see the difference between those who talk the talk and those who walk the walk.

    It’s not about Gaga’s body so much as it about the appearance that she has not completely accepted herself.


  5. April 25, 2012 1:17 pm

    She digitally alters herself a lot in her videos. I thought she had plastic surgery or something in the “Bad Romance” video. She’s altered to be very thin in that too. I think she does have issues with how she looks. So I do think kids are picking up on the double standard of be yourself as long as it’s thin.

    • April 25, 2012 11:31 pm

      Don’t forget the scene where she digitally altered her eyes to look HUUUGEEE!

  6. April 25, 2012 1:19 pm

  7. April 25, 2012 11:28 pm

    Did anyone besides me think when they first saw Lady Gaga in Poker Face wearing the blue body suit and with the blonde hair, that she looked like Sailor Moon? I think the smoke around her in the video really sold that to me.

  8. The Real Cie permalink
    April 26, 2012 4:20 pm

    I like Lady Gaga, but her remarks about pop stars not eating do concern me. I think that Beth Ditto is a healthier role model for young women, not because of her size as such, but because of her acceptance of herself at whatever size she may be.

    • The Real Cie permalink
      April 26, 2012 4:21 pm

      I’d wanted the video to embed, but it didn’t. I’m sometimes a tad technically impaired.

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