Remember when bathing suit shopping was fun?
I’m in the midst of buying swimwear for Evie’s upcoming Mexican vacation and our purchasing criteria mainly include A) Is it stupidly adorable? B) Does it have built-in SPF and C) Will it fit her in three months?…with B and C coming in a distant second and third. Her suitcase is now pre-packed with a red and white gingham bikini (with matching retro sunglasses, obviously), a delicate pink floral one-piece, and a nautical-themed, blue anchor-emblazoned maillot.
I’ll bet Lady Gaga’s parents had fun shopping for her first bikini, too, back in 1986 when she was just your average chubby-legged bambino (who I’m guessing could carry a tune better than most baby songbirds.) Surely they never thought that 26 years later, their daughter would feel pressured to release images of herself in a yellow bra and thong in defense of her body, which half the world has spent the past week critiquing. Headlines about her “eye-popping weight gain” have included, “The fat Lady Gaga sings”, “Is Lady Gaga pregnant or just fat?”, and “Is Lady Gaga fat from all of that marijuana smoking in Amsterdam?” After confirming to a reporter she did gain some weight from enjoying her father’s pizza and pasta (Papa Gaga just opened a NYC trattoria), she posted a pic of herself in her skivvies on LittleMonsters.com punctuated with a heartbreakingly blunt caption: “Bulimia and Anorexia since I was 15.” (She joins Katie Couric, 55, in her celeb confessional; last week, the anchorwoman revealed she “wrestled” with bulimia during and after college.” Couric divulged this during an interview with teen phenom Demi Lovato, who was recently treated for eating disorders and cutting.)
Along with her American Apparel-esque body shots, Lady Gaga encouraged her followers to join her “Body Revolution 2013,” (login here) with another photo of her shot from behind, reading, “and BREED some (expletive) COMPASSION”.
Gaga is hardly the first to post photos of herself in the flesh in defense of her body. A few years back, hundreds of bloggers revealed themselves via the Exposed project, including Stephanie Quilao, Roni Noone, Kate and MizFit. HuffingtonPost has invited readers to mail in photos of their thighs; pics included women of all sizes alongside sentiments such as “Here is a picture of my thighs, dimples and all. i love that they are an invaluable asset in roller derby. the hand in the picture belongs to my husband” and “Now as i am 19 i tell myself that this is the way my thighs are going to be and this is how the stretch marks are going to look like, it was a big process but i learned my way to accept the thing i could not change and love them for what they offer to me.” XOJane.com has invited readers to submit pics of their stomachs as part of their XOJANE Real Girl Belly Project and of their makeup-free “morning faces” (here’s a good one). Over at TheShapeofaMother.com, moms can post snapshots of their real, non-US Weekly post-baby bodies, which readers can search by “breasts,” “cesareans,” “twins,” “belly,” and even “infertility.”
We live in a sad society when women feel the need to publicly post photos of themselves in their underwear, looking “real,” just to get strangers off their backs, or to defend themselves against public ridicule over a few pounds (or 25, or whatever the case may be.) That said, these women are unbelievably brave and strong and are helping to empower countless others who feel just as attacked or are filled with equal amounts of self-loathing. In response to Lady Gaga’s pictures, one Little Monster commented, “You give us the strength to take the parts we are supposed to be ashamed of and make them into our pride.”
This whole debacle got me thinking about my own daughter and how, like Gaga, she serves as a fabulous body image role model, even though she’s only seven months old:
-When Evie looks in the mirror, she can’t help but break out into a gigantic smile. She loves what she sees reflected back at her. Sometimes, she gets so excited she’ll even try to kiss or eat herself.
-When strangers call Evie chubby (or even fat, which I can’t comprehend), she flat-out ignores them.
-She doesn’t get caught up in sizes. If a 12-month onesie is already a bit snug at seven months, she tosses it in the hamper and picks the next size up. This baby refuses to let herself be defined by a label, and she’s doesn’t buy into vanity sizing.
-She demands food that tastes good to her, and she eats until she’s full – but not overstuffed – and then she stops and feels no remorse or guilt.
-She only gets on the scale at the doctor’s office, and even then, she doesn’t look at the number. All she cares about is whether she’s healthy or not.
-She’s not afraid to show her emotion, smiling when she’s happy, crying when she’s tired or upset. No pretenses with this babe.
In honor of Lady Gaga (and Katie Couric, Demi Lovato Portia de Rossi, Jane Fonda, Jessica Alba, Kate Bosworth, Ashlee Simpson, Paula Abdul, Tracey Gold, Joan Rivers, Princess Diana, Lucy Hale, Snooki, Richard Simmons, Mary Kate Olsen, Nicole Ritchie, Sharon Osbourne, Oprah Winfrey, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Billy Bob Thornton and all the other celebrities who have been forthright about their battles with disordered eating), Evie is posting a photo of herself above in her own yellow bathing suit. Look at the joy on her face, at that sweet tummy being lapped at by a pool for one of the first times. If only we could all feel so comfortable in our own skin.