Wednesday, February 8, 2017

This one's for Lady Gaga (and you)

To the people who criticized Lady Gaga’s “belly fat"... 

You just perpetuated the impossible, ridiculous, unhealthy—and quite frankly, stupid—societal expectations of what a person should look like. 

Aside from the ludicrous posts and tweets that I read calling attention to Lady Gaga’s “flabby” stomach, I overheard a woman say, “if you’re going to go on national TV and show off your body, at least do some crunches and try make your body look good.” After overhearing that, my blood’s boiling point was lowered to 98.6 degrees, steam was coming out of my ears, and my next blog idea surfaced. 

To be honest, I’m not a huge Lady Gaga fan so I don’t want you to get the idea that I’m writing this because I want to defend HER. I’m writing this because I want to defend EVERYONE. I’m writing this because I want to defend YOU. Yes, even those who publicly shamed her. 

It's comments like the ones about Lady Gaga that trick all of us into thinking that we are what we look like. It's judgmental comments like those that fool us into believing that the pinnacle of our existence is how skinny or fit we can be. It's comments like those that devalue actual health and give space to unhealthy eating practices—whether it is disordered eating or a full blown eating disorder. It's comments like those that provoke feelings of self-hate, depression, and anxiety—not only for those who you share them with but for yourself as well.

The unrealistic standard of beauty may have originated in the media, but its fueled and promulgated by us whenever we talk down about the way a person looks. By speaking negatively about someone's body, you’re giving life to an unrealistic ideal that is hurting you and everyone you know. When you criticize the way a person looks, you’re ultimately stacking your own cards against humanity. And guess what? YOU are a part of humanity. You’re stacking your own cards against yourself. How? Well, when you decide to comment on a person's body, you're reducing everything they are—their amazing human complexity—down to their shape and figure. Whether you like it or not, you've also just reduced yourself. You're making a statement and that statement says, "all your talent, all the good you do, everything you stand for and represent, all your accomplishments, all the things that make you unique, are not as important as how fit or skinny you are." You essentially rob yourself of all the substantial value you bring to this world.

However, just as we can give power to this disparaging standard of beauty, we can also take that power back by changing the messages we spread. You and I both know that you are so much more than a body. There is a depth and a beauty to you that cannot and should not be chiseled down to what size of jeans you wear. We must not chisel anyone else down in the same insidious way because we can't do it to someone else without doing it to ourselves.  

I’m not writing this from a pedestal. I have been the mouth behind TOO MANY unkind comments regarding other people's looks and bodies, so I’m speaking to myself as much as I’m speaking to you. I urge all of us to stand up for ourselves by biting our tongue when we feel inclined to judge another person by their body. It might not seem heroic when you do it, but you truly are changing the world. No one benefited by the rude remarks directed towards Lady Gaga, but we all benefit when we decide to value humans for who they are and not for their bodies.