Yesterday was the Super Bowl. For someone like me, it incorporates the two things I adore: footy and an epic show with glitter cannons.
Of course, this year Lady Gaga was set to perform at half time. I sat on my couch and snatched up the remote. It had to be on full volume, obviously.
Gaga was utterly fierce and fabulous. As always. As we all expected. She sang with stunning accuracy and she didn’t miss a beat. She danced in sparkling high heeled boots and owned that stage.
Scrolling through my feed after the performance I knew I was bound to see article upon article praising her performance. She was unreal. Flawless.
What I didn’t expect to see was the amount of commentary on her body, because what is there really to comment about?
She had a costume change in the middle of her performance and in the second half of the show, her torso was on display. I remember watching the costume change, seeing her body and thinking: What a strong, healthy, beautiful looking woman. Also, how is she keeping up with her dancers?
In the post half-time show haze, we started seeing horrific and horrendous comments about the skin on Lady Gaga’s stomach. I say skin because that’s what it was. Not fat. Just a bit of skin.
Gaga sang her own songs in front of millions of people. And instead of focusing on the achievements she made as an artist, some people decided to crticise her body as it was dancing to the beat of her own creation.
People were fat shaming Gaga. What ‘fat’ exactly they were shaming I can’t be sure. They obviously mistook the skin on her stomach for fat. How DARE something move or fold on a woman! How DARE she not have an eight pack. How DARE she have tiny, miniature rolls of skin on display. THE SHAME.
How, I wondered, could Gaga ever be interpreted as fat? And what does that say about our society?
What does it say about us when a healthy woman, who would fit into a size small, is fat shamed for having skin on her stomach that folds as she moves and bends?
What does it say about us when a performer, who had just put on a show worthy of an Olympics opening ceremony, is only critiqued for her body.
What does it say about us when young girls everywhere are now looking down at their own stomachs and thinking, “well if Gaga’s fat, then what does that mean I am?”
What does it say about us when ‘healthy’ is determined by your dress size or the curvature of your stomach?
It tells me that we’re not used to seeing what women look like when they’re not flexing or posing or in their natural state. We aren’t used to seeing lots of different types of female bodies. All different types of women’s bodies. Generally, we’re used to seeing thin. On TV. In magazines. On Instagram. It saturates our popular media and it’s what we are used to seeing. And that’s not to say thinness is wrong because we should accept all shapes and sizes.
But we need to be seeing more body diversity in our popular culture. Women of all shapes, sizes and walks of life. That’s not to say we’re not seeing changes, because we are. Mia Freedman’s “Confroning Stomach” instagram photos. Or Sophie Cachia’s (also known as the Young Mummy) honest and raw posts.
It’s encouraging. But it’s not enough. And the criticism of the skin on Lady Gaga’s stomach is clear proof that we have a long way to go.