The recent (continued?) speculation and commentary on Lady Gaga’s body has been weighing (excuse the terrible pun) heavily on me this week. While watching her Superbowl performance, slack-jawed and in awe of her presence, voice and everything-Gaga, I didn’t once look at her body critically.
Yet, sadly within minutes of the performance online trolls and media commentators had something to say about her body. It’s one thing entirely to judge a performance but another to take a look at the performer’s body and critique that.
It’s not what she came for.
Lady Gaga coming in with the beer gut
— Noah (@noahcarroll101) February 6, 2017
When Lady Gaga posted a response to the recent media interest in her body and the shamers, online publications went nuts with that too, sharing it and celebrating it. Or were they?
I heard my body is a topic of conversation so I wanted to say, I’m proud of my body and you should be proud of yours too. No matter who you are or what you do. I could give you a million reasons why you don’t need to cater to anyone or anything to succeed. Be you, and be relentlessly you. That’s the stuff of champions. thank you so much everyone for supporting me. I love you guys. Xoxo, gaga
Interesting too, is that in the very same online post from US Weekly Sharing Lady Gaga’s response to the body shamers, the magazine had a link to click to see more “stars hot bodies”.
How, how are we able to on one hand highlight how Lady Gaga fought back against the body shamers, and in the very same article then place link bait to view more hot bodies. Magazines like US Weekly are not where intellectuals go for thought-provoking commentary (nor do they look to mommy blogs, I get it) but our children are reading this, not only our daughters but our sons too.
I speculated in a media segment last week that the majority of people who criticized Lady Gaga’s performance at the Superbowl were likely a very specific part of the population. Males, aged 20-60, not physically fit, not highly intelligent, and maybe married but likely to a woman not confident enough to voice her opinion. Sure, there are some women who take some kind of joy in pointing out flaws in celebrities, but I think my profile of the Lady Gaga body shamers holds true.
If I’m right, then as mothers we have an even bigger job to do. We know we have to teach our daughters to love their bodies and take pride in their bodies – whether that means working out to achieve the fit physique they desire or to strut their stuff in a bikini regardless of their weight on the scale. Self-love doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy our bodies in every shape and form – frankly the only person that needs to love our bodies is ourselves. A big task, I think – teaching our daughters to love their bodies knowing they are watching us when we love – and sometimes dislike – our own.
Next, we as mothers (and fathers too) need to teach our sons respect for a woman’s body. We preach the importance of consent, yet many of us don’t fight back when a grown man yells a sexual slur or insult to a woman. When a man trolls online and points out what’s “wrong” with a woman’s body, why do we stay silent? It’s bizarre when you think about it, no?
I shared this photo on Instagram today, after giving some thought to why it was important to share. Over the course of our one-week vacation in Mexico highlighting my 40th birthday, I posted a few bikini-bod shots on my Instagram. I’m in a celebratory mood after all, losing more than 25 pounds since the spring. Then there was the photo above taken with my daughter that I didn’t share. Why? Because inevitably I knew someone would point out the little belly roll and it wasn’t perfect. Instagram, we know, is often what we want others to see rather than what is true. We know 10 selfies are taken before we get the perfect one, and Snapchat filters are used more than ever before to blur out the imperfections.
Isn’t that absolutely ridiculous? That I could do all this work to improve my body yet still hide the fact that I have extra skin as the result of carrying three little lives inside me? More so that someone would find fault with that and a reason to point it out to their friends (if you think mommy bloggers are a tight bunch, let’s have coffee and chat about that high school cafeteria).
I made a promise to myself that I would start loving my body and that means every part of it, even the taco-belly-roll in Mexico. I love this picture of my 5-year-old and I, and I hope as she gets older it’s one of the pictures she treasures too. Our daughters and sons need to see women loving their bodies, every little bit, so that they are not the trolls online in years to come.
Surely those people have a lot of darkness in their lives, and I don’t want my children to be them.