“I was always an entertainer. I was a ham as a little girl and I’m a ham today,” says Lady Gaga, 23, who made a name for herself on the Lower East Side club scene with the infectious dance-pop party song “Beautiful Dirty Rich,” and wild, theatrical, and often tongue-in-cheek “shock art” performances where Gaga – who designs and makes many of her stage outfits — would strip down to her hand-crafted hot pants and bikini top, light cans of hairspray on fire, and strike a pose as a disco ball lowered from the ceiling to the orchestral sounds of A Clockwork Orange.
Um… that’s fantastic.
Here’s the deal. I think American culture still suffers from aftershocks of it’s Puritanical beginnings. These beliefs (the naked body is bad! people do NOT have genitals omg!) permeate beneath the surface of our hyper-sexualized pop culture that has been increasing exponentially for the past fifty years. This unnerving cognitive dissonance in our societies’ belief system overwhelms all of our cultural references.
Our society says (I’m paraphrasing):
- girls like (are) pink. and cute(sy).
- women & men have equal rights, but women you better be attractive or Ur Doin It Rong.
- men commit sexual harassment = “boys will be boys” “he has needs/can’t help it”
- women are harassed = “she was asking for it” “she should have been doing XYZ in that situation”
- if teenage girls wear spaghetti strap tank tops and skirts shorter than where their fingertips land on their thighs they’re automatically sluts
- if teenage girls don’t try to hype their sexuality they will never be popular
- be attractive, never outrageous
- whatever you do (women), always put the ‘other’ first (i.e. people pleasing is rewarded)
- whatever you do (women), do not push boundaries!
- if you are a celebrity and a woman, forget it, you are no longer a human. we (the people) DESERVE to rip you apart, judge you, and condemn you!
And so I take us back to the excerpt from Lady Gaga’s official bio. Gaga, against the odds of her life experience, pushed beyond societies’ hypocrisy and did what made her feel good. Did what made her love herself. Did what she loved.
Often, when a young woman does things that not only make her feel good but that are at odds with convention she becomes a freak, an outcast. Gaga has expressed many times how she felt like a freak as a teenager and is doing what she does now for all “the little monsters” who can relate.
Is she perfect? Certainly not. She had the feminist community in a tizzy over the summer when she stated in an interview, “I’m not a feminist – I, I hail men, I love men. I celebrate American male culture, and beer, and bars and muscle cars…”
But you know what? She’s doing something right, and in her growth as a pop icon she is also growing as an artist, as a woman and as a human being. In her recent interview with Barbara Walters she explained, “I guess you could say I devoted myself so strongly to my music that for a while I forgot about my family. But um, I only get one set of parents, and um, I think I forgot about that for a little while. But now I get to keep my father, and have music.”
Do I agree with all her antics? All her choices? No. I have a proclivity to abhor things such as “Beautiful Dirty Rich” and tend to avoid the Lower East Side club scene. ….it’s just not my scene (though sometimes I wish it was). That’s fine. TO EACH THEIR OWN. What I LOVE is that she has taken pop music and mass media to make brutally honest artistic statements. I thought her 2009 MTV Video Music Awards performance of “Paparazzi” – a tribute to Princess Diana – was amazingly bold and beautiful. (3:05 to the end is what I’m talkin’ about) And yes, I’ve always been a sucker for theatrics.
So what do you think? There have been several mini discussions about her the past few weeks in various circles of people I associate with, and they’re all interesting. Is she a good role model? For who? In what context? Does she live up to the hype? Does her music stand on it’s own outside of her theatricality? Do you think she’s overly sexual or because her sexuality has a context it’s okay?
All questions worthy of their own time in the limelight. Maybe I should do a Lady Gaga blog series. 😉
Someone on facebook asked people to fill out a questionnaire she posted about eating disorders. She’s writing an article for her university and wanted diverse experiences. I thought I’d re-post my answers here.
What was your diagnosis and how long into your ED did you go before you were diagnosed? If you were never diagnosed please share.
I never asked my therapist what my diagnosis was, but at the time it probably was bulimic. Though most of my ED history would be EDNOS. I finally saw a therapist specifically for the ED (in the thralls of serious bulimia) after 10 years of EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified) which varied in severity and “type” (aka more restrictive vs. more bingeing) over the years.
How old were you?
ED started around 15, diagnosed at 25
Were you in university while struggling with your ed? if yes what was that like for you and what help or hinderances did you find along the way?
first year at college I was very restrictive and exercised a lot, but I thought I was healthier than I was in high school… though eventually friends kept accusing me of being anorexic. This lead to the ED turning 360 and I started bingeing and compulsive emotional overeating second year. This lead to dropping out due to severe depression.
Was there anything that triggered your ED or that kept you from recovery?
I don’t quite understand this question… I wanted to be thin and I felt I needed this secret control over choices even if I knew they were the wrong choices, they were MY choices…
What support did you need then?
What support did you receive?
my friends tried to be supportive but it backfired. (don’t accuse people of being anorexic… that’s not helpful.)
Were people around you aware of your ED? How did this impact your relationships?
mostly no they weren’t other than the few who accused me and then I just denied it. I started to isolate more to avoid more accusations.
Are you recovered with no problems? recovered with some problems? still fighting? dont want to fight?
I’m in recovery and in a very good place. I haven’t purged since the summer and I’m finally loving my body as it is and allowing myself love. That doesn’t mean thoughts don’t creep in sometimes or certain situations don’t still freak me out.
If applicable, is there anything(s) you would recommend to someone fighting an ED?
life is ever-changing, it won’t always be this bad. The ED is all about fear, find your fear and you’ll find the beginning of the road to recovery.
If you could tell people anything about eating disorders what would it be?
As I said above, the eating disorder is a fear-based reaction to stress and triggers. it’s very serious illness that affects the physical body – including the brain – once the physical aspects are being taken care of… facing fear and working through mental issues and processes are what will lead to recovery… and recovery can only truly occur when a person learns self-love.