Thirteen minutes of perfection. She jumped off a roof, she performed acrobatic stunts while suspended from cables, she danced in heels, she sang (no lip syncing!), she played instruments and changed wardrobes, and she was flawless.
I and the rest of the world watched a woman who is incredibly fit perform a high-energy routine requiring max-level cardio, endurance, and an ability to control her breathing well enough to belt out a pitch perfect performance. If you’re a gym rat, you know that five minutes into a tough workout, the struggle to even speak in a measured tone is real. Yet there Gaga was with her muscular, toned legs and a body that the vast majority of women dream of and the vast majority of men would love to touch, never missing a beat. Nevertheless, the trolls came out in fine fashion to point out a small ripple of skin that appeared over her waistband, as if none of us has experienced any form of the ubiquitous muffin top.
It’s oh so typical, and as women, we sadly have gotten used to it. We expect it. We’re shocked if and when it doesn’t happen, but that’s rarely the case so we don’t get shocked too often. Over 114 million people watched Gaga do her thing. It was arguably one of the best Super Bowl halftime shows in history, yet where was the focus? On that tiny ripple of skin above her spandex bottoms that no one in their right mind should have noticed with all the pyrotechnics, dancers, backup singers and overall vibrancy exploding on the stage. But they did because to far too many people, women are made-up faces, flattering clothes and stylish hair. They’re not their credentials or their accomplishments. Simply put, women are their bodies, not their bodies of work.
And you wonder why women feel the need to march.
Gaga sang about equality, about praying for a better world, about loving yourself and others. And the women who marched did so for the exact same purpose. People scoffed at them, too. They mocked them, made jokes about how Trump finally got fat women walking. They tried their level best to turn a powerful message into a joke, a parody. You want to know why women march? They march because of the sexism spewed in the aftermath of Gaga’s outstanding performance. You don’t see body shaming as sexist? Ask yourself when the last time was that you commented on the weight or body shape of a football player. Yeah, that’s what I thought.
In 2017, we still see women as nothing but sex objects. An extremely talented artist performed for 13 minutes and during that time, gave me and everyone around me chills. One song in, my Super Bowl party group jumped to our feet, danced, sang, and clapped along with her performance. She did exactly what she was paid to do - entertain and engage her audience. And she did it better than most. It’s 2017. Can we please appreciate what she brought to the table rather than focusing on her perceived physical imperfections?
We’ve been conditioned to notice women’s looks, to critique their bodies, and to place their attractiveness above all else. We elected a president who is notorious for doing the same.
It’s not media spin or bias. It’s a fact that we voted in a president who has said and done horrible things to women. You can try to write it off or justify it or minimize it, but you can’t deny what came out of the man’s own mouth. And almost half of this country voted for him anyway, sending a message to women that their victimization is “the lesser of two evils” or “doesn’t matter because we need to drain the swamp.” But when you ask why women felt the need to march, there’s your answer. And Gaga confirmed it. As long as you continue to comment on a woman’s body over her performance, talent, or ability to exceed any of her job expectations, you’re the reason women march.
The timing of GaGa’s performance just after the largest worldwide march in history was fortuitous. The back-to-back events brought attention to the strength and talent of women who have repeatedly espoused unity, peace, individualism, and independence. GaGa is the embodiment of the next generation of women who have talent extraordinaire but who continue to be judged by their looks. Luckily, she doesn’t give a damn. She knows that what she offers to the world is much more important than what people think about her.
The women who marched in Washington and the women who gathered all over the world to support them - they know it too.
Rebecca Deurlein is the president of Teenager Success 101 and the author of Teenagers 101. Her parenting blog is A Teacher’s Guide to Understanding Teenagers, and she can be found on Facebook and Twitter.