Lady Gaga gained a little weight recently and apparently it was big news. With various gossip sites speculating about how much she gained and how and why, and whether or not she’s pregnant (I guess the critics got bored with the “Lady Gaga is really a man – Check out her hidden peesh…” rumors), Gaga has joined the Britney Spearses, Christina Aguileras and Kelly Clarksons of the world. The media is so obsessed with body image, it is starting to outweigh talent.
In the old days, before MTV and E!, we judged singers by their songs and by their voices. Can you imagine it? Etta James could drink a giant iced coffee and you wouldn’t even hear about it. Aretha Franklin had the “respect” she deserved based on her voice, not her hips. I have no idea if Chaka Khan was a vegetarian or not. But these days, the pressure’s on.
We do have some great singers today who fortunately seem to avoid getting flack for their bodies, but it seems to me the media will always find a way to tie it in somehow. It’s like they want us to find it inspirational that Adele isn’t a size zero. Well it’s great that she may be able to inspire some girls out there, but it’d be better if we lived in a world where it wasn’t an issue either way. Her voice is obviously amazing at any waist size. Can’t we just leave it at that?!
I know some of these ladies’ voices are better than others. I’m not comparing talent here. Perhaps, and I’m just thinking out loud, there is a difference between the expectations we attach to a “performer” (such as a Britney Spears and a Lady Gaga, whose outfits and dance moves are part of who they are) and a “singer” (such as an Adele or a Jennifer Hudson, who aren’t known for dancing and prancing around the stage). Still, Kelly Clarkson, whose voice kills it every time, has never really put herself out there as a “sex symbol,” and she still gets scrutinized whenever she gains some noticeable pounds.
And all of that being said, I think we sometimes forget that we can’t freeze these pop stars in time. Some of them have aged a decade since they first created their image, and even popped out a kid or two. Does anybody have the same body type at age 30 that they did at age 18?! If so, the lady who invented Spanx would be very disappointed.
Some people will say things like, “She makes a million dollars and has a wonderful life – I don’t feel bad for [fill in the blank celeb].” And that may be true, but I take issue with that for two reasons: 1. They may be famous and rich but they are still human beings with feelings and families and hearts and souls. And more importantly, 2. Pop culture is a huge influence in our day to day lives, and we set the standards too high for the women in the public eye, it has a direct effect on the girls we know and love in our day to day lives.
I know part of the deal of being a pop star is that you are voluntarily in the public eye, and therefore subject to a variety of opinions. And perhaps it is part of your duty as such to maintain your image, whatever that may be. And I’m no saint – I’ve done my fair share of judging here and there. But I think that we are approaching a danger zone as a society when we don’t allow these girls a little wiggle (or butt jiggle) room.
(P.S. If you are a Gaga fan, you will be happy to know she is handling the situation in true Gaga fashion, not allowing it to bring her down. Citing a long time struggle with anorexia and bulimia as the cause of her weight fluctuation, Gaga has posted photos of herself on her website in nothing but a bra and underwear. She’s created “Body Revolution 2013,” a space for her fans around the world, aka her “Little Monsters”, to share photos of themselves and their imperfections. The response so far seems to be liberating for everybody involved.)