Lady Gaga
Monday 24th September 2012

So, Lady Gaga has unknowingly jumped on the Body Gossip bandwagon, urging her fans to post a picture of themselves with a sentence about their real body on her website.

The public have responded in their millions, posting pictures of scars, skin conditions, stretch marks and cellulite, all of which needs crucially to be taken from the realm of the abnormal to the accepted. However, fans have also been posting pictures with short captions about their weight struggles and eating disorders, which is a far more complex arena..

Gaga's body revolution is designed to encourage acceptance and to broaden our understanding of what is normal, acceptable and attractive and in this sense it's identical to Body Gossip. It does, however, differ in two significant ways - it uses pictures predominantly, rather than words and it is completely unregulated.

By posting a picture of herself in her underwear with the caption 'anorexic and bulimic since 15' Gaga has dispelled the widely held misconception that to be rich and famous is automatically to be happy. From that point of view her actions are incredibly positive.

However, in making a statement available to hoards of adoring fans, many of whom have no understanding of what eating disorders are - a mental illness - along with a picture of herself, it might be argued that Gaga has made the concept of eating disorders 'trendy'.

Let's look at the photo objectively - a backlash against cruel comments in the press regarding her recent weight gain - but still a picture of a more-slender-than-average, wealthy, talented, popular young woman bearing a simple slogan. If Gaga had written a more indepth, Body Gossip-style piece which would have inevitably documented the mental anguish and torment involved in having an eating disorder, perhaps her message would have been more clear.

Comments on the photo are also worrying. 'You don't need to be anorexic, you are gorgeous' - This clearly demonstrates a misapprehension of the nature of Gaga's illness.

Body Gossip have always worked on the basis that photos, whether airbrushed or otherwise, can be misleading. We are programmed to make assumptions based on how people look which can potentially bely the subject's true feelings. The Body Gossip stories, whilst less stark and sensational than a photo, provide a true gateway to the body image thoughts of the nation, which are complicated and many-faceted .

We also work in partnership with a number of organisations which provide support for the issues people write about. Beat, Men Get Eating Disorders Too, the Samaritans, the National Osteoporosis Society not to mention our own self-esteem education programme 'Gossip School' all work in tandem with Body Gossip so that when people have been brave enough to speak publicly about their emotional issues, they can then seek the help they need to conquer them.

There is a difference between normalising something and glamourising it. We know Gaga meant to do the former - We fear she may have done the latter.

Lady Gaga has been characteristically bold and brave - we hope that her spirit and courage can inspire people struggling with body insecurity but also galvanise them to get the help they need.

 

Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga