By FAITH PONTI
“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.”
Posted on Instagram a few days after the Super Bowl, this is the response of the incredibly talented, strong, independent, successful and hot musical goddess Lady Gaga who, after performing fiercely during the Super Bowl halftime show, found herself swamped with online comments and tweets from bullies and body-shamers. Mostly aiming at the appearance of her belly during the show, viewers criticized the pop star’s apparently less-than-perfect body. As the hashtag #GagaBelly trended throughout the night, Tweeters threw out insults like “Lady Gaga SuperBowl: Making America Fat Again” (@styzzznyc) and “is it a bad time to point out that Lady Gaga could lose 5-7 pounds?” (@garrettmleynek).They criticized the way her costume fit. They insulted the way her body moved when she danced. In essence, they rejected the way Lady Gaga was truly, ferociously and unapologetically real.
But wow, what a relief it was for me to watch someone with a body like mine move confidently on stage. How amazing it was to witness Lady Gaga rocking a crop top with all the elegance and badass-ness in the world, without feeling the need to cover the softer parts of her body. How refreshing it was to see someone publicly prove how women don’t need to have perfect, tight bodies in order to be sexy or confident or powerful. Lady Gaga took ownership of her body, both on stage and in her online response, and refused to give her power away to anyone else. She is the epitome of a goddess on Earth, using her confidence and sense of self as a suit of armor against the anonymous faces of darkness and ignorance. She loves herself, honors her flaws and stands strong in the face of criticism, all while pressing us to do the same.
And honestly, we all desperately need to hear her message. At some point, whether that’s in high school, college, or later in life, we all come to the realization that there are parts of our bodies that we will never change. Sure, our BMI will always fluctuate, and we’ll continue to gain or lose weight depending on our cardio-to-Oreo ratio. However, unless we pay some big money, our hip bones will always stay relatively stationary, and the texture of our hair won’t change. Our noses will stay their shape and our eyelashes their length. There are some things that Mother Nature, or God or the random organization of the universe has given us, that we will naturally always have.
That’s where Lady Gaga’s message comes in. As beautifully unique humans, we have to make a pact with ourselves in order to stay sane and keep ourselves going. To find inner peace, we have to decide that we aren’t going to stress the parts of ourselves that we can’t change. We have to choose to accept ourselves fully, knowing that we are exactly as we are meant to be. We need to treat ourselves with love and compassion, because if we don’t, we’ll be susceptible to the darkness that comes from ignorant people who want to see us fall. There will always be someone who thinks you’re too big, too small, too soft, too dark, too light, too natural, too something. If you don’t love and accept yourself, you’ll start to believe that ignorance. You’ll fall into a cycle of self-hatred and criticism. You’ll want to alter yourself to fit someone else’s ideal. You won’t be yourself.
You have to believe that you are enough, because you are. You are enough exactly as you are. You have a purpose, and you are the way you are for a reason. Don’t let someone take away your power. Reclaim yourself, and know that you deserve to stand strong and be yourself. When you feel otherwise, try to channel your inner Lady Gaga. Flaunt that belly, show those flaws, laugh at the darkness and reclaim your sense of self. You are worth it.
Faith Ponti can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.