Lady Gaga, going natural at a Hamptons art event? The star's natural look is in the news, and whether this look is replaced by something different tomorrow, it still sends a positive message to kids everywhere -- Be Authentic, Be Yourself, Accept Who You Are. Women's Wear Daily reports that a photo shoot for V Magazine, shot by photographers van Lamsweerde and Matadin, "showed the star completely naked."
"There is a sense of stripping bare and then putting things back on. That's the process she's going through," says van Lamsweerde. "I always say to her, 'Look at you. You are incredibly beautiful, accept it. Don't try to hide your face, just shine through.' For her, it's a part of that not hiding behind wigs and glasses and all kinds of stuff."
Whether promoting individual expression or living authentically, this is a powerful message that resonates through the mission of Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation: "To foster a more accepting society, where differences are embraced and individuality is celebrated... Together, we will move towards acceptance, bravery and love."
Who can argue with that? It also presents an opportunity to look deeper. Love for others works better when grounded in self-love. Bravery has to do with knowing yourself and what you believe in, and acceptance of others starts with self-acceptance. With unrealistic standards of perfection saturating our media and rates of depression increasing exponentially, unconditional self-acceptance is a message that kids, of all ages, need to hear, now more than ever,
Additionally, it is important to celebrate individuality, creativity, and the different sides of one's persona that long for expression. Lady Gaga has done a superb job of this in her range of looks and wardrobe that always push the envelope. But at the end of the day, it's really about what is true, real and present at the core. Who are you at the core, and what do you stand for?
Unfortunately, in day-to-day life, it's normally the opposite that shows up in the news. We're surrounded by media telling people what's wrong with them: magazines highlighting best beach bodies of the season or tracking celebrity weight gains, and "how to" sections filled with tips for looking thinner or more beautiful...
The focus on surface looks and body image issues is undermining and distracting people everywhere from the power within them. It's time to re-focus the message to be one that enables youth to get in touch with their inner beauty and wisdom, identify their authentic strengths and passions, and use their unique gifts to make a difference.
At Project Happiness, we use research-tested programs to empower young people to be resilient, to manage their emotions, and to build on their strengths in order to find meaning and purpose for their lives. They are tomorrow's leaders, and it is critical that they are given the tools to access their inner resources and to make peace in their inner world in order to best serve the outer world, which they will one day inherit.
I am inspired by the implications of Lady Gaga's more natural look, and am hoping this will continue to trend. A recent Italian Vogue article celebrated the natural beauty of some celebrities, featured without makeup, including Beyonce, Heidi Klum, Rihanna, Madonna, Elle McPherson, Goldie Hawn, Julianne Moore, Christy Turlington and Julia Roberts. As far as Lady Gaga, a recent NY Daily News article stated: "The more natural look is said to be a rediscovery of her former self, the singer once known by her real name Stefani Germanotta."
Most artists take on new personas to explore all the facets available to them. Self-expression can be an art form in itself and it's undeniably fun to play with wardrobe and makeup -- that's been true since before Cleopatra. Yet all this has so much more presence and power, if it is built on a foundation of unconditional self-acceptance, and even self-compassion for the inevitable challenges that are part of life.
I'm excited to see this new look for Lady Gaga, and even happier to think of what that can represent for youth. Be Authentic, Be Yourself, Accept Who You Are -- the world is waiting for your voice, your vision, your innate power and the beauty of who you are.