The Wednesday Weigh-in: Lady Gaga’s Body Revolution Edition

After the media erupted with the usual bullshit over photos that seemed to show the pop star looking chubbier than usual, Lady Gaga launched a new project on her site called Body Revolution and posted photos of herself in her underwear with the caption, “Bulimia and anorexia since I was 15.”

Lady Gaga in her underwear with caption "Bulimia and anorexia since I was 15"

Gaga encouraged her Little Monsters to post their own photos and “be brave and celebrate with us your ‘perceived flaws,’ as society tells us. May we make our flaws famous, and thus redefine the heinous.” And post they have–with stories of battling cancer, recovering from eating disorders, living with disabilities. But as Kelsey notes at Bitch, many of the comments–from both Gaga and her fans–simply assure the posters that they’re looking good. The real revolution, Kelsey suggests, would be “to stop telling them how pretty they are and shift the conversation away from looks entirely.”

I agree somewhat. I’m reminded of Jessica’s recent post at the Nation, in which she argued that “girls don’t need more self-esteem or feel-good mantras about loving themselves—what they need is a serious dose of righteous anger.” On the other hand, everyone wants to feel attractive; it’s impossible to live in this world and resist that. And, not to ascribe magical powers to Gaga, but I think there’s real power in a star like Gaga–who certainly conforms to traditional beauty standards but who has also played with what it is to be “monstrous” in her art–saying, “No, this is beautiful, because I say so.”

What do you think? Is Body Revolution reinforcing beauty standards or helping resist them?

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like,, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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