Damned If You Do
I haven't been this angry about something that has nothing to do with me in a while, but this just smacks of propriety and policing and political correctness in the worst way.
So Lady Gaga tweeted the following on Tuesday:
Just killed back to back spin classes. Eating a salad dreaming of a cheeseburger #PopSingersDontEat #IWasBornThisWay
On Wednesday, the pearl-clutching began in earnest:
"Why would she encourage poor eating habits?"
"She was the one who was affected by an eating disorder herself, how can she do this?"
Or, the slightly more aware, but still not getting it: "I know her hashtags were a joke, but they aren't funny."
My GOD, people.
I'm not a Little Monster. I think Gaga's awesome and fun and derivative, kind of, and savvy and still young and totally, completely danceable, but I've never been an over the top fangirl of hers. Still, I think what she's done socially is awesome, with regard to the completely vocal acceptance of LGBT youth, expressing - without being pressed - her own struggles as a teen and as a young artist, and also the parts of her job that she loves. That's like 40% of her trademark, right? Being honest. (The other 60% is see-through person-size eggs.)
Nobody could argue that she wants this life very very much and chose to accept everything that goes along with it. One of those things is the expectation that you maintain a body weight which is almost impossible for those of us who live a relatively typical life not-onscreen. I remember Sarah Michelle Gellar getting in trouble for talking about this a while back, and Julianne Moore talked recently about how it's a depressing reality that she lives on yogurt. It's not a secret. The people we look at on television and in movies and in music are not eating "normally" or according to what they would like; they are consistently maintaining their low body weights because that's a part of their jobs. They keep themselves on strict regimens. They know the cost of going to a fitting and NOT fitting is too high. Everyone calls a vodka soda some version of a pejorative a la "the anorexic cocktail" because it's true. People whose job is not primarily focused around looking good cannot afford a daily trainer AND specially prepared and calibrated meals AND smoking to curb appetite (while not being lambasted for it because they're famous and beautiful) AND scheduling the rest of their lives around their 3 hour workouts. It's not possible. And the people who say that they are "constantly eating cheeseburgers" are liars. It's that simple.
I'll pause while you all send me emails about how you or your best friend or your niece eat everything constantly all the time and you, or she, are/is super skinny. You know what? Not enough for Hollywood. Sorry. SORRY, but this is true. Today's size 4 (which is a lot bigger than 10 years ago 4, but that's another story) is too big for onscreen, according to today's standards of beauty good enough to be shown to the rest of us. It is a very, very small selection of people whose body chemistry will even allow them to diet down to that size. You thought it was a coincidence that all the best actors happen to be size zeroes? Those size 10 girls just have no talent. Sigh.*
But you know all this already. You're savvy people.
So why is it a problem that Lady Gaga reveals to her followers, who know that she's a fabrication, who see the amount of effort that goes into her daily costumes, that her body is also something that needs to be carefully attended and monitored? That the tax on being a pop star is to be incredibly thin (and, I would say, fit, in order to get through her stage shows and their inherent athleticism)? Why are we offended by this kind of honesty?
"Well, it sets a bad example".
Here we are again. She's a pop star. She's made very clear that some parts of her are to be role-modelled. Her attitudes toward loving everyone. Her intolerance of intolerance. She trusts that people - including the young, impressionable types who worship her - are smart enough to know that walking around with sparks coming out of your boobs is not a daily practice you should seek to emulate, and thus, neither is her diet and exercise routine.
Moreover, she's being honest. If you do want to follow her down this professional entertainer path, this is what it costs. It's so simple. Why is she being vilified? Is she supposed to just shut up about it because she's lucky to be famous and rich?
If you don't think that's acceptable, for you or your children, don't emulate her. If you don't think it's acceptable in a pop star, choose someone else to enjoy. But we're constantly screaming about the fakeness of Hollywood and then yelling at someone who pulls the veil back.
Pick a side, already.
*Yes. There are exceptions. But you can name them on both hands and they are the exception that proves the rule. For every Melissa McCarthy or Jennifer Lawrence or Sofia Vergara or whoever's the praised "normal body" of the week, there are thousands of other actresses who maintain the status quo. Ask Rachel Dratch.