Glossy Talk: Lady Gaga in Vogue's image
"They used to call me rabbit teeth in school, and now I'm a real live VOGUE BEAUTY QUEEN!"
So tweeted Lady Gaga on receipt of her March issue American Vogue cover. Oh, dear. I am troubled. This is why:
- Gaga has been Anna Wintourised to within an inch of her page-boy bob. She looks like Agyness Deyn. Less Italian, less outrageous Gaga, more English Rose in Rodarte (or whatever brand she is wearing – Lanvin, maybe?). The shrew has been tamed. Granted, every magazine editor has an aesthetic (for Vogue Nippon, Gaga, who once said, "I will kill to get what I need", donned a meat dress), and Vogue's slew of glossy lovelies mostly comply with it (see after the jump) but to declare Lady Gaga was 'BORN THIS WAY' is rich. She has been manufactured by the pop machine, which has long since eclipsed her raw talent with sensationalised film clips and publicity stunts while drawing heavily from the Madonna School of Sartorialism, and then re-manufactured by Vogue to fit the glossy's mould, too. The blushing pink cover, though certainly showstopping, is giving me Tina Fey flashbacks.
- Of course, Vogue is in the business of sales and publicity, and so is Gaga, so it's a mutually beneficial alliance (hello, Gaga has a new single out this Friday). I wonder if Anna Wintour is a true fan.
- That Gaga's ambition is still about running away from the Catholic school girl from the Upper West Side with the rabbit teeth reportedly nicknamed "Big Boobs McGee" (aka Stefani Joanne Germanotta). The dissociation is extremely problematic – and a source of modern feminine discontent, for which Gaga might be an appropriate poster girl (you don't need an alter ego when you're happy with who you really are). Why, why are we so afraid of the little girls we left behind? What the heck are we making up for? Weight gain? Crooked teeth? Revenge on the self = morphing into someone else's image.
- Because landing an American Vogue cover – becoming a 'Beauty Queen' – might be considered by the eight million or so "Little Monsters" who follow Gaga on Twitter the epitome, because image is everything, beauty is everything, and what others think of us is the most important thing. For someone so anti-establishment, the Vogue validation is ironic.
All this said, the cover is undeniably striking. And perhaps I am misinterpreting the message here; that Gaga represents hope for those girls on the fringes who want to join the pretty, popular girls in their club but don't have the confidence (and to them, "You can suck it"). Those girls should know that they can do great things – but need not aspire to be a beauty queen. I can't wait to read the cover story.
Girl With a Satchel