Lady Gaga has put on some weight, and, not surprisingly, she’s catching flak for it. The Daily Mail, among others, published a bunch of unflattering photos of her on stage at a recent show in Amsterdam, and quoted a fitness expert who had calculated, from those photos, that Gaga was about 30 pounds “meatier.”
The stories were obviously, if not surprisingly, crass—”The fat Lady Gaga sings,” read one headline—and Gaga countered with some pictures of her own, only slightly more exposed than she is on stage, but appealingly defiant: “This is what I look like off stage and out of costume,” they seem to say. ” Here’s the real thing. Take a good look.”
But what got (and deserved) more attention than the photos was the caption: “Bulimia and anorexia since I was 15.” Gaga has talked about bulimia before, but what is different this time is the tense: Unlike almost every celebrity who talks about having an eating disorder, she’s not talking about something comfortably in the past. She’s not telling us that now she feels great about her weight and her healthy relationship with food. Eating disorders don’t go away overnight, and by acknowledging her reality Lady Gaga is helping to legitimize anyone who has ever struggled—and is struggling—to recover from one.
In true Gaga fashion she’s also launching an offensive against the fat police and asking fans to join her by posting similarly raw photos of themselves. The goal, as she puts it, “is to inspire bravery and BREED some M$therf*cking COMPASSION.” Or, to put a little Gaga gloss on it: “May we make our flaws famous, and thus redefine the heinous.”
I can’t say whether the love fest and outpouring of photos on her site will really help others struggling with negative feelings about their flawed (ie, normal) bodies. But we love Gaga’s creative efforts to use her over-the-top celebrity to help her young fans. And, of course, we love her honesty.