Have you seen the documentary Lady Gaga: Five Foot Two yet on Netflix? If you haven’t I won’t share anything spoiler related, but I will let you know this: the word FIBROMYALGIA is nowhere mentioned in the entire production. Regardless, I highly recommend you watch this film as a fibro warrior, as someone who loves someone with fibro, or just someone who is curious about what it is like to live with chronic pain. As quoted in the article I linked to the title of the documentary, “... her aunt, [was] an aspiring artist who died of lupus at age 19 in 1974. ‘Seeing what that did to [my father] and my family was the most powerful thing I experienced growing up,’ Gaga tells the journalist Darryl Pinckney in the film. ‘I am Joanne. I am my father’s daughter. That is what this record is about.’” As many of us know, a diagnosis of fibromyalgia is more likely if there is a hereditary link and some have said that, even though fibromyalgia is not characterized as an autoimmune disorder, that having relatives with lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and others can increase your chances of being diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
Some people are upset with the documentary because they feel that fibromyalgia is misrepresented since Lady Gaga is able to do a lot more physical activity than many of us with the diagnosis. However, it is evident in the film that Gaga suffers from chronic pain terribly as she documents a doctor’s appointment, listing the medications she’s taking, and alternative treatments that she uses to help with the pain. Gaga is still human, though, as she has had to cancel tour dates due to being hospitalized from her pain. One of the reasons I have heard that fibromyalgia was not talked about in the film is because she was not yet diagnosed with the disorder. Back to Lady Gaga’s physical activity level, it’s important to note that there are others like her that are able to keep their physical activity level high while keeping the symptoms of their fibromyalgia low or almost non-existent. After watching the documentary, my take on it is that part of the reason she keeps up with the high activity level is two fold. Firstly, it’s what her fans expect of her. She has created a public persona that includes wacky outfits and extreme dance moves. This is not pointing fingers or blaming but she gets her income from her music and performances so she needs to keep that up until she can’t do it anymore. Secondly, with the resources she does have, she is able to be treated for the pain caused by this activity. Depending on how her body continues to react to this activity while determine how long she will be able to put on the performances she has in the past.
I was impressed with the documentary on many levels. She shared how hard she works, how important her family, friends, and co-workers are to her, and how much pain she deals with on a daily basis. The documentary was done well. While it’s part of who she is, I think the “f-bomb” was dropped too many times and some may be offended. Others may be offended by the fact that she takes her bikini top off during a part of the filming. There are little nitpicky things that anyone could find to state how the movie is offensive. However, I learned so much about who Lady Gaga is as a person and what her “real” life looks like. While I expected to hear about fibromyalgia on the documentary and didn’t, I was initially disappointed. However, she made it abundantly clear that chronic pain affects her daily. Having a family history of autoimmune disorders and a current diagnosis of fibromyalgia, I think a lot of the pain she’s dealt with is because she was “Born This Way.” (Get it? Ha!) I recommend this for anyone. Period.
If you are interested in chatting more about the documentary, or anything else fibromyalgia related, reach out to me. I have so much more to say on the film but I didn’t want to make this too long. I think those of us living with chronic pain can identify with a lot of the pain and emotions Lady Gaga deals with. I’m looking forward to hearing what YOU have to say about the film.
I’m Kate Straus and I’m a Certified Fibromyalgia Advisor. I help Jewish women feel confident in their ability to practice their faith while navigating the ups and downs of fibromyalgia. I’m using the disease that at one time knocked me down, to help support others live life to their fullest.