Lady Gaga is taking her clothes off to start a body revolution.
In response to news stories about her weight gain in recent weeks, Lady Gaga has taken matters into her own hands. On September 25, she posted unvarnished photos of her body on her Little Monsters social media site and encouraged community members to do the same. She calls the initiative A Body Revolution 2013. I believe Body Revolution is significant because the effort shows how a celebrity can use social media to make a powerful statement that transcends her art.
“Be brave and celebrate with us your ‘perceived flaws,’ as society tells us,” she wrote on her site when she launched Body Revolution. “May we make our flaws famous, and thus redefine the heinous,” she added — as she revealed that she has suffered from bulemia and anorexia since she was 15 years old.
Body Revolution has generated an overwhelming response, with Little Monsters members from around the world posting photos of their bodies — warts, scars, cellulite, and all. The posts come with some compelling commentary. Here are some examples:
Some posts discuss eating disorders, such as this one from Sk3llingt0n, a 23-year-old Little Monster from France: “My body revolution, I’m sick, Anorexia and bulimia since 14YO, cut myself since same time…I find hope with Gaga. So hard to show my scars and my body.” Or this from Morphine Princess: “My own father calls me fat and stupid almost every day. I’ve had on-off eating disorders since I was 13 years old, I just want to feel comfortable with my body.”
The Body Revolution feels authentic — not a PR stunt — because Lady Gaga has always used her art and fame to celebrate individuality and self-acceptance. She is an active spokesperson for LGBT rights. Her Born This Way Foundation combats bullying and empowers youth. And, of course, she sings about self-acceptance in songs such as “Born This Way” (sample lyric: “Whether life’s disabilities/Left you outcast, bullied or teased/Rejoice and love yourself today/’Cause baby, you were born this way.”
Lady Gaga is neither the first nor the last artist to use her fame to support causes. However, her use of social media sets her apart. Here’s someone who is not only promoting self-acceptance but connecting like-minded people to each other.
But Body Revolution is not without its critics. In the September 27 The Guardian, freelance author Sady Doyle asserts that “The stunt reeks of selling acceptance to the insecure.”
Doyle writes, “I work for a web magazine aimed at teenage girls, and can confirm that descriptions of weight loss or body shape have to be looked over carefully, so as not to trigger anorexic or bulimic readers. Here’s one thing I don’t imagine is helpful to the eating disordered: submitting pictures of themselves to be judged by their favourite pop star.”
Moreover, in The Huffington Post (U.K. edition), fashion blogger Aimee Wood muses that the site might encourage people to accept obesity. “Obesity kills. Fact,” she writes. “Encouraging people to LOVE their bodies is great, but let’s not encourage people to NEGLECT their bodies. We need to take action. We need to realise WHY our bodies look like this and that there IS something we can do about it (in most cases) instead of just learning to live with it and get over it. We need to accept the fact that we CAN have flaws, but that we can also ACT against them. We need to encourage people to feel HAPPY with themselves but also and mainly to strive for what they really want (to look like) in life.”
But there’s one aspect of Body Revolution that you cannot appreciate unless you spend some time on the Little Monsters site: the peer commentary. Little Monsters can comment on each other’s posts, and Body Revolution content is no exception. Hence when one Little Monster posts a photo of her curvy body and admits to being nervous about her appearance, another member responds, ” . . . you have nothing to worry about, you are GORGEOUS.” When one member posts a photo of her scarred face, another responds, ” . . . if we met, I would want to hold your hand.” Lady Gaga is making the headlines, and rightfully so — but the real story is the community that carries the torch for the Body Revolution.
Lady Gaga: controversial. Loud. In your face. But most importantly of all, authentic. What do you think of A Body Revolution?