I was getting my nails done while watching the Super Bowl – classic me – always a mix of sporty and girly. My nails were drying right before the highly-anticipated halftime show, and, of course, they were perfect by the time Lady Gaga was about to make her jumping-dancing-flying-through-the-air debut. But alas, the owner of the (now empty, now closed) salon was tapping his toe impatiently, and I had to get out of there.
I missed the halftime show and all its glory on my commute to my part-time job, and didn’t get to watch it until later on YouTube, long after the body-shaming Tweets and comments had run rampant on the internet.
I’ll admit, I watched that video clip with a critical eye. Lady Gaga was fat?? I was looking for something crazy – rolls spilling out from her shorts, a drastic change in her body composition – something, anything to maybe justify the ridiculous rumors. As if commenting on someone else’s body is ever acceptable. (It’s not, by the way.)
But I saw nothing.
I saw a happy, healthy woman running, jumping, flying, dancing and singing her heart out across the stage. I saw a woman, energized and passion-filled, sharing what she loved with the rest of the world.
I saw a woman who loved herself.
And as I read through the hate-filled comments about her ‘Pillsbury-dough-boy’ body, about her ‘stomach pudge’ about her ‘pooch’ about her ‘fat’ – I realized one thing: People are always going to find fault in you – in what you do, what you say, how you look, who you are – but you are in charge of your feelings, your reactions, and your own self-definition.
And you can’t let what people say bring you down.
I saw that Lady Gaga responded to her haters, and I think she says it beautifully:
“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.”
So to Lady Gaga, I just want to say one thing: Thank you.
Thank you for teaching me to be my own biggest fan, my own supporter, my own cheerleader. Thank you for showing me that in the face of adversity or hate, the best response is always, always positivity. Thank you for reminding me that what others think of me does not define me. And will never define me.
Thank you for showing me, for showing little girls, for showing all women (and men, too!) of different shapes, sizes, and walks of life that it’s okay to be proud of who you are and how far you’ve come.
And thank you for teaching me to love myself.
You see, I took this post-workout selfie a few weeks ago, and I still haven’t shared it. It’s been sitting in my camera roll, in my gallery of images, just staring at me. I know I’m far from perfect. I know there are still a million things ‘wrong’ with my body. I know I’ll never have a flawless image – and that’s okay. Because I’ve come so far from where I’ve used to be.
And you taught me that’s what matters – how far we’ve come and who we are – not how far we are from this unrealistic expectation of perfect.
I’m proud of this selfie. Sure, I don’t have this amazing, Photoshop-esque body, but none of us do, do we? That’s why we have computers that redesign model’s shapes, magazines that print digitally-formatted photos, and thousands of healthy, wonderful people with body image issues.
But what you taught me, is that it’s okay to be imperfect.
And the funny thing is? You have an amazing body! A body that shouldn’t even be shamed in the first place. But that doesn’t matter to you. With your confidence and response, you’re fighting for all of us – all the people who have ever felt not good enough, or have struggled with their bodies, all the people who have been hurt by others’ words, or looked in the mirror and felt ashamed.
Thank you for reminding us that there’s absolutely nothing to be ashamed about.
And thank you for reminding us what’s really important – going out into the world and passionately pursuing what we love, without worrying about how we look or what others will say. Thank you for loving your life, loving yourself, and sharing all of this with the world.
Today, you are more than an artist, more than a singer, more than an icon.
You are an inspiration, and for your voice, body, heart, and words – I am thankful.