It’s past time I chimed in about Godga’s Body Revolution. Her photos and ultimately statement about body acceptance have sparked tons of great conversations among my female friends, as well as quite a bit of controversy in the Interwebz and media. I deliberately refer to Gaga’s revolution as body acceptance rather than body peace. Gaga doesn’t pretend to be at peace with her body and I appreciate that so much. There’s a huge difference between acceptance and peace. Acceptance is a powerful step in a positive direction, but the language of those who have “accepted” their bodies still sounds more like tolerance than peace. When put in perspective, “I embrace my flaws” and “this is who I am, love me or hate me” are not necessarily the most empowering flaws. Acceptance is often a step necessary to enact change. If Gaga was really at peace with her body, she wouldn’t believe she needed to change.
The reason this is so important for me to bring up is because I, too, struggle with food and weight and body acceptance. I’ve written about this in other capacities before (here and here for instance), but I’m nervous to talk about it on my blog. For some reason, writing about my depression and anxiety and other episodes of vulnerability come really easy to me because I feel like you all get it and support me in such beautiful, helpful ways. When it comes to my body, I’m not sure how to accept support, much less accept myself.
I initially wanted to post photos similar to Gaga’s that show off my body for what it is, but I can hardly post outfit photos sometimes because I can’t handle the idea of someone else seeing me like I see me. I don’t have body acceptance and I definitely don’t have body peace.
As I scour the blogosphere for conversations about the Body Revolution, I find the same language over and over. “What weight controversy!? Her body looks incredible!” and “Let’s be honest: she looks bangin’ in those self-published underwear photos,” aren’t really helpful or empathetic comments to make, though I understand why they’re being made. No, Gaga isn’t obese. She doesn’t have to worry that people will judge her by her size before she opens her mouth to speak. She may be scrutinized by the media about her weight, but never in the way that someone like Kirstie Alley or Jessica Simpson have. However, for someone who struggles with disordered eating and accepting her or his own body, calling them out for thin privilege can be discouraging and dangerous.
So Gaga posted scantily clad photos of herself online and people told her she looked hot. Not only does this minimize her struggle and dismiss an obvious cry for support, but it may prevent her from reaching out in the future. By telling her how great she looks, you’re essentially telling her that she’s wrong and she’s crazy–two things that are likely to make her mistreat her body and mind even harder.
As someone who has struggled herself with disordered eating and my own negative body perception, I know how much worse I become when I’m made to feel delusional. When you write off my often paralyzing body awareness as being nit-picky or make comments about my eating habits, you disempower me to accept my body or to get the help I need. If you’ve read this far, you probably fight with your own weight or aspects of your own body or diet. Instead of minimizing what I’m going through by trying to show me “the positives” about my body, address our common struggle and what we can do to someday accept ourselves; to someday be at peace with our bodies.