Lady Gaga: “Pop stars should not eat”

Lady Gaga, Let's make a sandwich

This just makes me sad. Early on in a New York Magazine profile of Lady Gaga we get this quote:

At five-two and 100 pounds, with her hair styled into a mod blonde bob, [Lady Gaga] looked flush from a strict diet of starvation: “Pop stars should not eat,” she pronounced.

Gaga gets a lot of credit from feminists (myself included) for creating a pop art space where marginalized young people who feel like freaks and weirdos can be at home. So it’s disappointing to see her speak so flippantly about the dangerous body image issues and disordered eating that is supported and encouraged through pop culture. At the same time, the honesty is almost a relief – at least Gaga is being open about the expectation that female celebrities starve themselves. Now we just need to change that standard.

Boston, MA

Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

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  • paperispatient

    I haven’t read the whole article, and I may just be optimistic, but this seems like the kind of quote that could be taken out of context.
    Maybe she was commenting on appearance and weight expectations in the pop music industry – more of a “this is the perspective out there” than a “this is how it should be” or “this is what I’m advocating.”

  • Kathleen Hagerty

    That line was taken completely out of context in the article, though. It was presented as a non-sequitur. There’s no way of knowing what her tone was, whether she was being sarcastic or not when she said that. I wouldn’t take it as an indication of her feelings on body image.

  • Comrade Kevin

    Lady Gaga is on the right path, but still miles away in many regards. I sometimes think a truly subversive pop icon would be an underground sensation only.

  • Melissa

    Actually, even though it’s far from a perfect statement (I would have loved it if she would have followed it up with some actual social commentary), I think the honesty is, in itself, an important step. I’ll take that over “oh, I just eat healthy and exercise” any day. (Unless, of course, it’s true that the person “just” eats healthy and exercises…but in most cases that isn’t true. When celebrities claim that, I give them the benefit of the doubt on a personal level…like knowing that some of them are probably telling the truth and many of them are probably lying, but deliberately not speculating about which is which.)
    Anyway, I think it’s a step in the right direction for very very skinny people who aren’t naturally like that to be open and honest about what maintaining that kind of body requires. I think our society would get a lot healthier, in general, if everyone got out from under this illusion that anyone can look like Lady Gaga by “just eating healthy and exercising.”


    Should you take anything Lady Ga Ga says seriously?

  • genericjanedoe

    That comment about food and also the details about how she lost her weight stuck out to me too in that article. It’s mentioned that she used to be 20 pounds heavier and she expresses no disdain for her former body (I remember it being described in rather positive terms) but then somehow it’s just a given that she had to lose the weight in order to be successful. In fact, I felt like at one point the article points out how it was around the time that the lost the last of the weight that some successes started coming her way.
    (Sorry to be vague and not quote directly. I read it yesterday and it’s a best to comb back through.)

  • Dawn.

    I was upset when I read this too, but not because I thought Lady GaGa truly believes this. I was upset because I know, considering her routine critiques of celebrity culture and the beauty industry, that the writer and/or editor failed to clarify her statement. IMO, the unnecessary references to her size and weight were indicative of the writer’s inability to engage thoughtfully with their interview subject.
    Also, notice the most important word in this quote: should. Should implies a social expectation.
    Lady GaGa is an imperfect pop artist and I’m not defending every statement she’s made or action she’s taken. I just believe this quote was taken out of context, which means it will continue to be taken out of context, which means it will probably fly all over the blogosphere as “proof” that Lady GaGa encourages disordered eating, just like most mainstream celebrities, and should therefore be shunned by all Good Feminists. It’s far more complex than that.

  • sandylion

    This criticism is completely missing the point. Lady Gaga, as she presents herself in her interviews, is an act. She has taken everything she understands about pop culture, pop art, and post-modernism to construct a vacant, glamorous, fame obsessed image that both wholly embodies and totally subverts our current culture.
    When Gaga says that pop stars should not eat, she is not necessarily stating that as a fact, rather her image/character is saying that to reflect the attitudes of the culture around us.

  • xxxevilgrinxxx

    wow, I’m really hoping that it was taken out of context but I’m wondering just how far it had to be stretched? It’s a sad thing to say, a sad thing to believe, a sad thing to project.
    If it truly was taken out of context, I hope that she corrects it and damned quick.

  • rebekah

    I’m pretty sure she was being satirical there. We all know how lady gaga feels about society and beauty images, she subverts them, splices them, butchers them, and then mashes them all back together again in some sort of out there weird way that works, because it is gaga. I just can’t see her saying that in a serious way, especially because she has done interviews before where the writer talked about how much she ate (as in they were criticizing her for eating too much).

  • asseenontv

    I’m glad she supports gay rights, but she sort of has to to please her audience. I wouldn’t take anything she says too seriously. And I wouldn’t look to her for leadership or subversive influence, or anything other than pop music.

  • Kate

    I heard her say something exactly like this quite awhile back (I think she said “I’m a pop star. I don’t eat.”) and I felt strongly then, as I do now, that she is speaking as a performance artist who is subverting celebrity and fame. She’s obviously a smart woman, and I’ve been watching her as if everything she does is with a reflective purpose. She quickly gained pop star fame singing vapid, dance club songs and is now embodying a kind of mutated and devolved ego that our culture has created again and again.
    Also, I feel that even if she didn’t intend for these meanings to come out, there’s almost a “death of the author” feel to her art, where her intentions aren’t so much important as their interpretation.

  • BackOfBusEleven

    Seriously. From the article, it seems like she was exhausted, sat down, and said “Pop stars should not eat.”
    And you don’t have to starve yourself or be in otherwise poor health to be 5-2 and 100 pounds. I thought the author of the piece was being irresponsible in writing that.

  • Toongrrl

    Hope it was sarcasm

  • Athenia

    “[Lady Gaga] looked flush from a strict diet of starvation”

  • uberhausfrau

    as an aside: i found the video for telephone tedious but when it came to the “let’s make a sandwich” i had to smile. i thought it was a witty comeback to the “make me a sandwich” brand of misogyny.

  • genericjanedoe

    That was my thought too, initially, but then I figured it was said because of her quote about not eating.

  • LurkinMerkin

    I don’t understand how it works that someone obviously tries (whether she succeeds or not is another debate) to make herself as strange and sometimes as shocking as possible, and everyone’s response is to hang on her every word as if she were Guatama Buddha and it was nuggets of pure crystallized wisdom that fell from her mouth.
    Was she being sarcastic or not? Who cares? It’s Lady Gaga.

  • holmes

    can we please *please* stop using “eat a sandwich” or “make a sandwich” to poke fun at women you judge to be too thin, or that you judge to not eat enough, or that you judge to be anorexic, or whatEVER it is that your judgment may be – it is *not* funny, it is used by people that have no clue about the complexities of body image and disordered eating, and this is the second time i’ve seen it on the main page of this site in the past few months. it is NOT funny, especially not on a feminist website, please stop.

  • Wolf_22

    While this might be true – I would remind everyone that a blogger was caught lying about Gaga’s ‘weight obsession’, ‘exhaustion from not eating’, and her video co-star Alexander Skarsgard’s disgust with her weight. Internet rumors spread like wildfire…so tread with causion and be critical of what you read.

  • greenmouse

    I don’t think the intent of the image was to make fun. It was probably just used because it’s Lady Gaga and relevant to eating. It is kind of an unfortunate choice, though.

  • Liza

    There may have been other clues that she was starving, but the writer should have included them in the paragraph.