The internetwebs (or at least the bits that aren’t swooning over/getting annoyed by royal babies or the X Factor) have been getting excited by the latest photoshoot from the Diet Coke of queerness herself, Lady Gaga. “Is this Lady Gaga’s Most Shocking Shoot?" asks the august organ of news and opinion that is Stuff.co.nz (good god, I live in a country where one of the major news websites sounds like it was named by a terminally bored 14 year old), their clickthrough photo showing Ms Gaga naked on a stool, hands covering breasts and vulva. Apparently, the photo “shows the slender singer without any makeup” which suggests the author thinks make-up only comes in primary colours and glitter, suggesting they are either a drag queen or desperately naive.
In a career marked by exciting/plagiarising-Leigh-Bowery-and-most-of-the-80s photoshoots, at first glance it’s easy to see why this one may be a little controversial. She’s nekkid! She’s only wearing three layers of makeup (which to our journalist is equal to “no” makeup)! Her legs are open!
However, on closer inspection owners of vulvas may grow concerned for the woman, beyond her fatal lack of blue eyeshadow. Upon reflection I now have nothing but sympathy for her.
She has no external sexual organs. Her slender paw is placed in such a way where a peek of clitoris of labia minora would surely be visible, or at the very least a suggestion of labia majora. And yet, between finger and thumb there is nothing but smooth, airbrushed flesh. No hair, or even suggestion of follicle, can be seen.
This is where I get annoyed. Clearly this is meant to show a “natural” “real” side to an artist built on artifice, probably preceding some major personal revelation or power ballad about just being free to be her. And yet the image is built on the same lies that lead to teenagers saving up for labial plastic surgery and women not letting their partners see them naked with the lights on. An artist who’s major hit was about being born this way has photoshopped out the fundamental human structures that allow most people to be born at all.
What message does this send? I appreciate that it may sound like I'm finding things to be annoyed about, won't someone think of the children but this isn't about "ERMAGHERD NUDIE LADY!" Regardless of my personal feelings for the woman she is looked up to by many and to have this image touted as what a natural body looks like continues to reinforce the horrendous problems women and girls have with their own bodies. If she truly wishes to be a role model and be "empowering" then she can start by not airbrushing out a part of the body that most people seem to wish did not exist at all.