In Jonathan Van Meter’s extensive cover story on Lady Gaga for Vogue’s October issue, one line might make you raise a brow.
In the article, which corresponds with the pop star’s turn in “A Star Is Born” next month, the author describes the outfit that the pop star wore for the interview: a revealing robe and tons of diamond jewelry.
“I can see nearly every one of her tattoos — and her shapely behind — through the robe,” Van Meter wrote.
Van Meter’s objectification seems vastly out of place in a profile that also discusses Lady Gaga’s sexual assault at 19, the resulting PTSD, and how she believes the trauma is linked to her fibromyalgia.
After Van Meter’s tone-deaf transition — “She has sort of inverse boundaries: She won’t tell you, for example, where she just went on vacation, but she’s totally open about having been sexually assaulted when she was a teenager” — the story delved into a deeply personal portrayal of Gaga coming to terms with her trauma.
In the piece, the 32-year-old pop star candidly talked about how difficult it is to speak about personal experiences with sexual violence.
“No one else knew. It was almost like I tried to erase it from my brain,” she said. “And when it finally came out, it was like a big, ugly monster. And you have to face the monster to heal.”
She also vividly described what it feels like to have PTSD:
I feel stunned. Or stunted. You know that feeling when you’re on a roller coaster and you’re just about to go down the really steep slope? That fear and the drop in your stomach? My diaphragm seizes up. Then I have a hard time breathing, and my whole body goes into a spasm. And I begin to cry. That’s what it feels like for trauma victims every day, and it’s … miserable. I always say that trauma has a brain. And it works its way into everything that you do.
On how all this links to her fibromyalgia, a condition that caused the singer such chronic pain that in February she canceled 10 dates of her Joanne World Tour, Gaga says:
I get so irritated with people who don’t believe fibromyalgia is real. For me, and I think for many others, it’s really a cyclone of anxiety, depression, PTSD, trauma, and panic disorder, all of which sends the nervous system into overdrive, and then you have nerve pain as a result. People need to be more compassionate. Chronic pain is no joke. And it’s every day waking up not knowing how you’re going to feel.
The author again focuses on Gaga’s physical appearance to reassure readers she’s doing OK now writing, “Today, Lady Gaga is the picture of health: bright-eyed, sun-kissed, fit as a fiddle,” which seems to dismiss Gaga’s point that many able-bodied people are skeptical of claims made by those with invisible illnesses and disabilities.
Whatever Vogue’s intentions were, Gaga — and her desire to increase awareness — deserves better than this.