A Perfect Illusion: The Body Shaming of Gaga

Ten days ago, the world watched Lady Gaga absolutely slay the Super Bowl LI half time show. It was more than 13 minutes of unadulterated glitz, glamour, strength and agility. What’s more, she managed to pull it off with style, grace and a level of athleticism rivaled only (slightly) by the players on the field— and certainly unparalleled by any other half time show in recent memory. Whether you were watching because you’re a tried and true Monster, a passionate football fanatic or just tuning in to catch the multi million dollar commercials, there was no question her performance was a little bit of Americano and a whole lot of wow factor.

Nine days ago, via social media, we awoke to a frenzy of arm chair quarterbacks trolling Gaga for a bit of skin showing above her tight fitting sequin boy shorts. How could so many men post such terrible things? We were speechless. What do you say to a bunch of boys, boys, boys who have nothing better to do than body shame a woman (who, at 5’1” and only around 110 pounds, is by all accounts about as tiny as they come)?

It would be an easy thing to chant the lyrics to Born This Way or retaliate by pointing out the anonymous men hiding behind computer screens couldn’t so much as flounder their way through a 13-minute routine dancing their sweaty hearts out and hitting every single note perfectly, but that doesn’t address the larger social issue of pervasive beauty ideals that have no foundation in reality.

There are a million reasons why body shaming women on the basis of unrealistic standards of beauty is detrimental to our culture (and not just the women living in it either), but it’s sometimes difficult to really understand the negative impact ’til it happens to you.

Sadly, 98 percent of women don’t like what they see when they look in the mirror, and they don’t believe they’re beautiful. This is the reason Authentic Beauty exists, and the reason we love Gaga so much— she sets her own beauty standard and allows others to do the same. That’s something we’ve been championing since we first opened back in 2008, but it hasn’t always been easy.

Despite our partnership with expert eating disorder specialist Alison Cross in Project Authentic Beauty and our mission to empower all women and girls to feel beautiful from the inside out, messages about the Western beauty ideal inundate us from every angle and consistently contradict our passion for truth in beauty. The beauty industry, the media and the advertisements in magazines and on television conspire to send dangerous messages to women and girls (and, today, even boys and men) and praise unhealthy and unsafe images of beauty. It’s truly like a bad romance.

Since February is Love Your Body Month and we consider the Eating Disorders Information Network (EDIN) to be a sister nonprofit to Project Authentic Beauty, we just couldn’t keep a poker face about such blatant body shaming. This isn’t the first time our team has spoken out against this kind of misogynist, patriarchal vitriol, but it certainly seems like the perfect time to revisit the issue.

Believe it or not, we are all unconsciously affected by the pervasive images of beauty surrounding us— even when we know these images aren’t real. They are altered and manipulated to create a standard of beauty that is both unattainable and inauthentic. This is a marketing ploy that exists to get you to buy more stuff. And, it’s a dangerous love game. Gaga works out with a trainer who has her doing 25 minutes of high intensity cardio circuit five times a week, as well as a ton of strength and conditioning and it’s still not enough?

What must we see in the mirror when we’re scrambling after our children, rushing to that work meeting or skipping spin class in lieu of a quiet moment at home? The result of constant comparison to cultural feminine ideals of beauty can be lowered self esteem, depression, eating disorders and general dissatisfaction with your overall physical appearance, including complexion, teeth brightness, hair texture and so much more. This is a serious problem in our country, and it is not the way women should be living their lives!

Here at Authentic Beauty, we’re all about supporting women to love what they see when the look in the mirror because we think every woman is on the edge of glory! We believe your image should be a reflection of your authentic self, and you should NEVER be told how you should look. Even though she’s a public figure, neither should Lady Gaga. Take a note from her— do what you want, and take the time to discover the real you from the inside out! Take a look at her response to the body shamers:

We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again… the first step to transformation is always awareness. Be aware of what is trying to slip in behind the curtain because it is affecting you. Pay attention and be proactive in your media consumption and check yourself like you’d check those online trolls when the negative self talk begins seeping in. If you have a daughter, begin talking to her early about healthy body image and self-esteem.

Want to get in touch with your inner diva? Take an Image Journey for a transformational journey of self-discovery that is so much more than a makeup lesson. You’ll unearth your authentic self and become the author of your image. We’re pretty sure that’s something Gaga would think is dope.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder or body image issue, please contact licensed professional counselor Alison Cross.

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