Lady Gaga was the center of attention at the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards in the numerous designer outfits she wore to accept five awards, including the MTV Tricon Award. Each of her looks was topped with a matching face mask, and Gaga even ended the show by performing her song “Rain On Me” with Ariana Grande while wearing a mask. She proved that wearing a mask can be stylish no matter what you’re wearing. After thanking her fans for one of her awards, she reminded viewers to wear their face coverings to protect others.
“I might sound like a broken record, but wear a mask,” Gaga said in one of her acceptance speeches. “It’s a sign of respect.”
Before she became Lady Gaga, she was Stefani Germanotta, a girl from Yonkers, New York who had big dreams to become a star. She attended New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts where she shaped her skills as a songwriter and musician. She gave herself the stage name “Lady Gaga,” which comes from the Queen song “Radio Ga-Ga.” Her debut album The Fame came out in 2008, jumpstarting her career as an international, pop sensation.
Although Gaga is known for her outlandish outfits and hit singles like “Just Dance” and “Poker Face,” she has also taken on acting roles in the FX series American Horror Story and the 2018 film A Star Is Born. In addition to her nine Grammy awards, Gaga received an Academy Award for the song “Shallow” in A Star Is Born and a Golden Globe for best actress in American Horror Story. With 46.3 million Instagram followers and 81.9 million followers on Twitter, Gaga has become one of the most popular celebrities of our time.
She has taken advantage of her massive platform by using it to educate the public on social problems, inequality and public health. She has not only been encouraging her fans to wear a mask and social distance during the COVID-19 global pandemic, but she also organized a broadcasted, remote concert called One World: Together at Home to fundraise for the World Health Organization.
Before being an advocate for public health, she became a well-known ally of the LGBTQ+ community. In an interview with Out Magazine, Gaga revealed that her fanbase is predominantly made up of individuals within the LGBTQ+ community, and she is greatly appreciative of them.
"When I started in the mainstream it was the gays that lifted me up," she said in the interview. "I committed myself to them and they committed themselves to me, and because of the gay community I'm where I am today."
Gaga’s list of accomplishments and allyship is extensive, but one accomplishment that doesn’t get enough credit is the Born This Way Foundation, an organization aimed at protecting and supporting the “wellness of young people through an evidence-based approach.” Born This Way was founded by Gaga and her mother Cynthia Germanotta in 2012 with the goal of supporting the mental wellness of younger generations.
Earlier this year Gaga opened up about the importance of prioritizing mental health when she joined Oprah Winfrey on her tour “Oprah’s 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus.” The pair shared motivational speeches about how they are overcoming their mental illnesses and are becoming better people. During Gaga’s interview, she talked about her struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder and fibromyalgia, which is a chronic condition that causes intense pain and fatigue, according to the Mayo Clinic. She said her fibromyalgia was a physiological response to her trauma.
Because Gaga has struggled with her own mental health, she made it one of her goals to end the stigma around taking medication to treat mental illnesses. According to Teen Vogue, one message Gaga has for people is that there is nothing wrong with getting the help you need, whether it be from a healthcare professional or a close friend.
The Born This Way Foundation offers four programs: Teen Mental Health First Aid, Channel Kindness, BTWF in Las Vegas, and #BeKind21. Teen Mental Health First Aid is a program in partnership with the National Council for Behavioral Health that offers training for high school students who deal with mental illness. The program educates young people on ways to “support their own mental health and help a friend who is struggling.”
Additionally, Channel Kindness launched in 2016, and it is a campaign that encourages young people to “report on the heroic acts of kindness happening in their everyday lives through in-person storytelling.” The program is a call to action for young people to spread positivity and tell important, inspirational stories.
When Lady Gaga began her residency in Las Vegas, she led city-wide research to promote the well-being of the young people living there. The foundation trained local high school students on mental health awareness and donated over 5,000 items to local nonprofits.
The final program hosted by Born This Way is one that you can participate in right now using social media and hashtag #BeKind21. For 21 days, from Sept. 1 to Sept. 21, Born This Way encourages people to repeat an act of kindness and share their stories online. The campaign launched in 2018 and has contributed to over 50 million acts of kindness with over two million participants. #BeKind21 also has over 130 corporate partners including the City of Las Vegas, Verizon Media, Mental Health America, and MGM Resorts International. According to a survey by the Born This Way Foundation, “young people who describe their environments as kind are more likely to be mentally healthy.” The survey also found that young people who have access to resources are more likely to be mentally healthy.
You can sign up to be a part of #BeKind21 and help spread kindness from wherever you are in the world. Once you sign up, you will receive a social media toolkit and information regarding how to participate in the campaign.