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Society’s Transformation of Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta

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‘Be yourself.’ ‘Be the best.’ ‘Blend in with the crowd.’ ‘Stand out.’ ‘You aren’t perfect without this product.’ ‘Be unique.’ ‘Love yourself.’ ‘Conform to our standards of beauty’. Every day, thousands of messages about what we should look like, wear, eat, drink, even think are bombarded at us. However, these messages are not unanimous, and many contradict each other. Advertisements for foundation tell women to love their “natural” selves, while marketing a product designed to mask perceived flaws in an effort to achieve a societal ideal of perfection (Edgar). American culture sets a double standard regarding our acceptance of our own differences, and pop star Lady Gaga is an exceptional example of this phenomenon. She illustrates society’s hypocritical ideals of changing ourselves to fit the perfect figures set forth by the media, but at the same time maintain our unique diversity and individuality. Lady Gaga represents our culture’s preoccupation with changing ourselves and our belief that diversity should be celebrated, but also this generation’s growing recognition and embracement of societal change and growth.
Lady Gaga’s new hit song “Born this Way” touts being true to yourself and embracing who you are. “Born This Way” has become an anthem not only for the gay community, but for all minority groups seeking ways to embrace their diversity. Gaga’s vocal activism of civil rights for all people shows her liberal modern approach to society, and that approach reflects our culture’s progress towards universal acceptance. When she was interviewed at the 2010 MTV Music Video Award accompanied by four service members of the United States Army, Mike Almy; David Hall; Katie Miller and Stacy Vasquez, all of whom, under the U.S. military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy, had been prohibited from serving openly because of their sexuality; she represented the growing acceptance movement that is occurring in today’s culture. Her lyrics "There's nothing wrong with loving who you are," endorse the concept of being proud of yourself, and loving who you are without any changes to your attitude or appearance. She models the societal expectation of loving what sets you apart and embracing everyone for who they are. However, her outlandish costumes, excessive make-up and extreme physical appearance send the opposite message to her fans.
Although Lady Gaga promotes celebrating yourself, she covers her own appearance with ridiculous costumes, outrageous props and pounds of make-up. Her extravagant costumes and elaborate face paint disguise her body and prevent her messages of acceptance from appearing genuine. Even her stage name, ‘Lady Gaga’ differs so radically from her given name, Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, that she is almost another person than who she was born as. Society is captivated by extremities, and Gaga’s conversion from demure Stefani Germanotta to the bizarre Lady Gaga is no exception. Her gaudy clothing is designed to flaunt her manufactured uniqueness, and projects an image of eccentricity, when in reality it only hides the person she truly is. Her peculiar stage props during performances, including fake blood, a giant egg and twelve costume changes, attempt to flaunt her unique personality, but in reality they only cast doubt over the sincerity of her song lyrics that preach loving yourself without changing. As Lady Gaga becomes more and more ridiculous, she begins to reflect the other message the media is sending; that to be accepted, we must change who we are. Although Gaga has not changed herself to be more inconspicuous, her eccentric behavior still mirrors our culture’s fascination with extreme transformations and with amending ourselves to achieve what we want.
Lady Gaga strives to be unique, and her clothing, attitude and music is unmatched by any other, simply because she refuses to follow conventional ideas of what is acceptable. From her meat dress to cigarette sunglasses, Gaga blends the line between object and clothing and challenges not only what is socially acceptable, but what is possible. By discarding all conformist notions of fashion, she dares both the fashion industry as well as society in general to reconsider what we believe to be perfect, but also what we believe to be possible. To many people, Lady Gaga represents a new movement towards acceptance and the destruction of previously held ideals. Her support of the gay rights movement as well as multitudes of other minority groups highlights the acceptance of diversity that is emergent in our culture, Although she does embody the pressures presented by the media, she also shows how out society is prepared to move beyond what we know to be adequate towards the future.



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