When Lady Gaga recently gained 25 pounds, the internet went crazy posting the "shocking" photos, along with derogatory comments and even speculating as to whether she may have packed on the pounds as a publicity stunt. Really? Who does that? In response to all the negative commentary, Gaga attributed the weight gain to simply eating too much pasta at her father's restaurant. But she also revealed that she has been suffering from eating disorders since she was 15.
Christina Aguilera was also in the news recently when she addressed her weight gain over the past year. She said that she had simply grown tired of constantly struggling to be super skinny in order to please record executives. She said that throughout her career, executives at her record label pressured her to remain thin and even went so far as to stage a weight intervention, but this time she told them, "I'm fat. Deal with it." She went on to say, "They need a reminder sometimes that I don't belong to them. It's my body."
Of course, eating disorders and the societal pressures to be thin are nothing new. And they are nothing to trivialize. They are painful for the girl or woman who is going through them, as well as their families. Even my good friend Katie Couric recently revealed that she, too, had suffered from bulimia in her teens and twenties as she strived for physical perfection. These revelations -- and conversations -- are a good thing. They help us know that, however down we may feel about our bodies at different times in our lives, there are many women we hold as role models who have been there, too. Lady Gaga, who is ahead of the pack in so many ways, sent a very positive message to her legions of fans -- to accept their bodies regardless of weight, scars or any other perceived "imperfections."
This positive reinforcement is much needed. Young women -- and some older ones as well -- can't help but feel insecure as they leaf through the fashion magazines' portrayal of young women with unattainable, airbrushed imagery that depicts an entirely unrealistic physical ideal. And even though we should know better by now, many of us are still comparing ourselves to that ideal.
So we thought our best response to the recent public scoldings these famous women are getting for putting on a few pounds is to remind us all that there are images of strength and success and beauty around us that are not airbrushed. And don't ask to be.
We all know that carrying too much weight can cause serious health problems. Obesity can lead to diseases that can threaten our lives. But that needn't force us to hold ourselves to one ideal. And, hey, who gets to decide what's beautiful? So let's remind ourselves and our daughters that achievement, talent and strength are beautiful in themselves. And that, by the way, physical beauty comes in a whole lot of sizes.
So in that spirit, here are ten women we love. Not a one among them is a size zero, but they all kick ass.