My earliest memory of you is a defining moment in pop culture; a moment which, I remember, became synonymous with your name for the years to come. The 2010 MTV Video Music Awards was characterized by your stand out dress of raw meat. Your outfit, complete with boots and a hat made of meat, bewildered as many as it amazed. Who would not have thought of you as an unhinged artiste?
Ten-year-old me failed to understand you. Too naïve to grasp your eccentricity, and frankly, slightly scared to watch your music videos, humming along the radio was the only way she saw fit to support you. Nineteen-year-old me, however, sees you for the person you are; no judgements made. You are a force to be reckoned with, and I sincerely apologise for only humming. I hope you will not hold this against me.
The word Gaga has only been an association I made with you. Queen’s ‘Radio Gaga’ barely left an impression on me. ’Born This Way’, is what sealed my love for you. At the time the song came out, I was barely eleven and had just started foraying into a world of expletives beyond stupid and idiot, and where I had to mind my etiquette around people. New feelings and emotions were being registered on the daily. Before I was even aware of the bridge of self-acceptance I would have to cross later on, I was already secure in my belief that what we are born with is not something we can change, nor be judged on.
I finally understood the flagrant sense of style with extra high heels, the peculiar music videos and the abiding desire to speak up and stand up for what is right. It took me a while but your headstrong personality soon became a source of inspiration. Watching you vociferously speak your mind; using your fame and status to bring about a change and support the communities which need it is the empowerment young women should grow up witnessing.
I remember watching you scream ‘Obama, are you listening?’ at a gay rights march in 2012, or your heartfelt speech after the Orlando shooting in 2016. When someone of your stature speaks up, it gives voice to what society prefers to keep voiceless. As I am writing this letter, it is dawning on me just how significant a role you have played in making me the person I am today. One does not blatantly learn from actions such as these. These bold decisions silently merge into the background, allowing us to shine, in a way similar to what the right background score does to a powerful scene.
‘Joanne’ showed another side to you; a side I hold very dearly. To see such a stripped and plain version of you was impelling, to say the least. As you put it, it is an album focussed on living every day as your last. Before I gave it a listen, what I found compelling was that it was inspired by your aunt, who died young and who you never met. I found some solace in the songs. Although I disliked the lead single, ‘Perfect Illusion’, songs such as ‘Just Another Day’ make me feel hopeful and ‘Grigio Girls’ remind me of the moments I have shared with my friends. Also, ‘Hey Girl’ featuring Florence Welch made me cry on my first listen because it was like two goddesses combining their powers to bless the world.
After achieving so much, though, do you feel like the world has failed you? In spite of being the first woman to win an Oscar, a Grammy, a BAFTA and a Golden Globe in the same year, you had to put romantic rumours about Bradley Cooper to rest. Do you feel defeated by the omnipresent lack of interest the world has shown in women? Did you ever doubt yourself when people did not take you for you? Milestones such as the first billion views on YouTube or nine Grammys should be sufficient to justify what you do and how you do it. To find the balance between being active enough in society to initiate a change and to be phlegmatic enough to not give life to the inane claims made against you must be a constant challenge.
As I bring my letter to a close, letting you know just how impactful who have been to someone still trying to figure her way out has been exhilarating. You found your passion and drive to strive at a young age. While I really do not know if I have found mine, what I can vouch for is the source of inspiration you are to me. These words are all I have, and I know I can do much with them.
I am still trying to find the space to plant my feet firmly in this busy, crowded world. On most days, it leaves me in a daze. But I promise to make sense of the chaos. I promise to be a better part of this world, to work for what I believe in, and to do my best to leave a mark. I cannot say I will do a good job, and I know the road will only get tougher. There will be days when I will not keep it together, and there will be days when the world is mine, but through it all, I promise to relentlessly be me, and only me. A promise, that I promise, will remain unbroken.
A girl on the edge of glory.
–Aarohi Sarma for MTTN
-Featured Image: Ansh Bhagania