Much Ado About Gaga… Or Is It?: Why Body Bashing Is Hurting All of Us
The media frenzy over Lady Gaga’s weight gain is an attack against our bodies and well-being.
Take a peek at almost any celebrity news site and you’ll be struck with photo after photo of Lady Gaga. But the text accompanying these images isn’t discussing her latest show-stopping getup or musical abilities.
An article in the Daily Mail says that Mother Monster is “looking much bigger than usual around her thigh and hip region.” The rest of the piece contains unflattering images of the songstress, with commentary by a nutritionist who has never treated Gaga. He “confirms” that she has gained 30 pounds.
And it only gets worse from there. Examiner reporter Tom Rose penned a scathing article titled “The Fat Lady Gaga Sings,” commenting that “she’s giving in to the temptation for spicy meatballs much more than an Italian salad these days.” Ever aiming to be the paper of record, the New York Daily News’ Ethan Sacks wrote, “Lady Gaga looks ‘Gaga-gantuan.’” I think I lost a few brain cells from reading the headline alone.
The flood of unprofessional, childish articles about this woman’s size caused Refinery 29 to wonder what it was about Gaga’s body that could transform otherwise decent journalists into schoolyard bullies. However, while I’m grateful that someone called them out on this one, condemning just one instance of body-trashing is like criticizing one battle of an unjust war.
This past year alone, Jennifer Lawrence was deemed by critics as too curvaceous for the role of Katniss Everdeen. Ashley Judd’s “puffy face” became a sensationalized media story. Jessica Simpson’s weight gain became an unhealthy public obsession.
Celebrities aside, how many front-page stories about female crime victims or community heroines have opened with details about their physical attractiveness? “Buxom and blonde”… “wide-eyed brunette beauty”… “fiery red head”… The list goes on and on.
These attitudes affect all women, whether they’re featured in newspapers and magazines or whether they just subscribe to them. When the media flagrantly attacks us for our physical appearance, they are saying that we are scornful and worthless if we don’t fit idealized notions of beauty.
And it’s making us feel terrible about ourselves. According to a Glamour survey, 97 percent of the 300 women interviewed admitted to putting their bodies down. On average, the number of times participants had negative thoughts about their bodies was 13 times every single day, with some reaching as many as 100.
With that said, we’re far from passive victims in a system that values us based on the clothes we wear, the shape of our thighs, and the color of the lipstick in our makeup bags. In her Daily Beast response to the “puffy face” comments, Judd remarked that “Patriarchy… is subtle, insidious, and never more dangerous than when women passionately deny that they themselves are engaging in it.”
And we can’t afford to deny this; women’s names are bylines on some of the harshest stories and all over the comment boards. By participating in the body bashing, we’re only hurting our own well-being.
These reports exist because we click and comment and share. But what if, instead of poking fun at a woman’s weight, we complained to the publication’s editor? What if we joined the growing force of readers who refuse to accept crude, sensationalistic stories without question? Every day, we have a choice. We can choose to tear down other women or we can choose to lift them up, imperfections and all. So what will you do?
Diana Denza is a regular contributor to BettyConfidential.