Since finding fame nearly a decade ago, Lady Gaga has become renowned for pushing boundaries when it comes to self-expression as a symbol of rebellion and strength. After peacefully protesting outside Trump Towers following Hillary Clinton’s election defeat, the songstress has written a moving essay defining womanhood in the modern world for US Harper’s Bazaar.
“Being a lady today means being a fighter,” Gaga penned.
“It means being a survivor. It means letting yourself be vulnerable and acknowledging your shame or that you’re sad or you’re angry. It takes great strength to do that.”
Stefani Germanotta (Gaga’s real name), also attributes her female forebears as being influential in empowering her “fighting spirit”, saying she realised her rebellion was passed down her lineage.
“Growing up, I was always told I was a rebel. People would say things like, ‘You’re defiant,’ and ‘Why are you dressed that way?’ But I continued to do what I wanted and wear what I wanted—because, clearly I haven’t changed,” Gaga said.
“For a long time, though, there was a shame that I carried with me. But what I’ve started to realise is that my rebelliousness, if you want to call it that, is something that was passed along to me by a long line of tough people—and tough women—in my family.”
Throughout the essay she particularly pays homage to her paternal aunt, Joanne Germanotta, who inspired the title of her new album by the same name, despite never having the chance to meet her. A survivor of sexual assault, Germanotta died of lupus, 12 years before Gaga was born. Gaga described her as “an angel or spirit guide” that was a protective symbol of her “hope and faith” in understanding herself.
Gaga turns her letter to America’s current political climate, penning that the power of channelling strong women like Joanne and Michelle Obama helped her through the misogynistic election cycle.
“I thought about Joanne as I was watching the news during the election about the scandal surrounding the Access Hollywood tape,” she began.
“Here we were, in 2016, and the fact that the sort of language that was being used to talk about women was everywhere—on TV, in politics—was eye-opening. I felt depressed and hurt by it because that’s what that kind of language does. Then I watched our incredible first lady, Michelle Obama, talk in New Hampshire about how hurt she felt seeing it too. She talked about how women are often afraid to say anything because we’re worried that we will appear weak—that we’ll be told we’re being over-the-top, dramatic, emotional. But we’re not. We’re fighting for our lives.”
And it seems Lady Gaga channels that fighting spirit unapologetically lately, saying it is important she takes the time to focus on personal projects she loves rather than the fame, including her single about surviving sexual assault, Til It Happens To You.
“Fame is the best drug that’s ever existed. But once you realise who you are and what you care about, that need for more, more, more just goes away. I have a clear perspective on what I want…I want to be somebody who is fighting for what’s true—not for more attention, more fame, more accolades,” she said.
“What matters is that I have a great family, I work hard, I take care of those around me, I provide jobs for people I love very much, and I make music that I hope sends a good message to the world.”
Lady Gaga powerfully concluded the essay be encouraging women to tear off the corsets that have been binding them.
“Health, happiness, love—these are the things that are at the heart of a great lady, I think. That’s the kind of lady I want to be. You know, I never thought I’d say this, but isn’t it time to take off the corsets? As someone who loves them, I think it’s time to take them off.