Lady Gaga gave this emotional and empowering speech on mental health at ELLE’s 25th Annual Women in Hollywood. This event occurred on October 15, 2018.
Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta (born March 28, 1986), known professionally as Lady Gaga, is an American singer, songwriter and actress.
Below is the full text [verbatim] of her speech.
Lady Gaga – Speech TRANSCRIPT
It’s hard to know what to say. I wrote this speech and there’s teleprompters and I got papers.
I don’t know what to – use.
And in truth, I was just trying to memorize Anita’s speech because it was so beautiful, but…
You give me hope!
Thank you, Jennifer, for that beautiful introduction. You’re an inspiration to so many. Thank you not only for everything you continually do for women, but for the force of nature you’ve been
for so many all over the world.
I think about me and my best friend who’s here tonight, right there. I’ve known her since I was four years old. Beautiful adopted woman from Korea. And how throughout high school, we danced and we sang, imitating Jennifer. Imitating you while we strengthened our bond.
Her name is Bo. And wearing white bandanas and hoop earrings draped over caramel colored hair.
You brought us so much joy. Where are you? You brought us so much joy.
On the train, I thought about you. And how the fuck I was going to get off that train. She loved you so much. We even gave her the nickname, J-Bo. No for real. Like, we called her that all the time.
There is not a doubt in my mind that you will be loved forever as the powerhouse of a performer and woman that you are. Thank you for making so many memories for me and my friends
that I will cherish forever in my heart. Thank you so much.
I never in my wildest dreams thought that my life would become what it has. But more so, to be honored this evening purely for being a woman. It’s beyond what I could have imagined. I guess I didn’t see it happening in my lifetime.
I am immensely privileged to be in the company of so many powerful women who have changed so many people’s lives. I am so humbled to be standing hand-in-hand with every one of you today.
I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted to say tonight because of all of you, because you inspire me.
How does one rise to such an occasion, when maybe you don’t feel that inside? How does one accept where life has brought them, and what it all means?
As I tried on dress after dress today, getting ready for this event, one tight corset after another,
one heel after another, a diamond, a feather, thousands of beaded fabrics, and the most beautiful silks in the world, to be honest, I felt sick to my stomach.
And I asked myself: what does it really mean to be a woman in Hollywood? We are not just objects to entertain the world. We are not simply images to bring smiles or grimaces to people’s faces. We are not members of a giant beauty pageant meant to be pit against one another for the pleasures of the public.
We women in Hollywood, we are voices. We have deep thoughts and ideas and beliefs and values about the world and we have the power to speak and be heard and fight back when we are silenced.
So, after trying on 10 or so dresses, with a sad feeling in my heart that all that would matter
was what I wore to this red carpet, I saw an oversized Marc Jacobs suit buried quietly in the corner.
I put it on to a resounding view of eyes glaring at me in confusion.
“But the Rodarte was so beautiful,” one said. “But the Raf Simons for Calvin Klein was so stunning on you,” said another. “But what about the Brandon Maxwell?” “What about the Dior?” Lots of questions.
They were all dresses. This was an oversized men’s suit made for a woman. Not a gown.
And then I began to cry. In this suit, I felt like me today. In this suit, I felt the truth of who I am well up in my gut. And then wondering what I wanted to say tonight became very clear to me.
As a sexual assault survivor by someone in the entertainment industry, as a woman who is still not brave enough to say his name, as a woman who lives with chronic pain, as a woman who was conditioned at a very young age to listen to what men told me to do, I decided today, I wanted to take the power back.
Today, I wear the pants. Today, I wear the suit.
In an age when I can barely watch the news, I gasped at the unjust men and some women, quite frankly, that I see running this country. I had a revelation that I had to be empowered to be myself today more than ever, to resist the standards of Hollywood, whatever that means, to resist the standards of dressing to impress, but to use what really matters: my voice.
After I was assaulted when I was 19, I changed forever. Part of me shut down for many years.
I didn’t tell anyone. I avoided it myself. And felt shame even still today.
Standing in front of you, I feel shame for what happened to me. I still have days where I feel like it was my fault.
After I shared what happened to me with very powerful men in this industry, nobody helped me.
No one offered me guidance, or a helping hand, to lead me to a place where I felt justice. They didn’t even point me in the direction of the mental health assistance I was in dire need of.
Those men hid because they were afraid of losing their power. And because they hid, I began to hide. I hid for a long time until I started to feel physical pain.
Then I had to go to the doctor because I didn’t know what was wrong with me. And then I was diagnosed with PTSD and fibromyalgia, which many people don’t think is even real, and I don’t even know what the fuck to say about that.
But I’ll tell you what it is. It’s a syndrome that is essentially a cyclone of many different conditions depending on the person, inducing a stress-induced pain. And I really wish my friend Lena Dunham was here tonight because I think she could probably articulate this much better than me.
And I hope we can all agree that she is a remarkable woman.
Depression, anxiety, eating disorders, trauma — these are just a few examples of the forces
that can lead to this tornado of pain. So what I would like to say, in this room of powerful women and men today, is let’s work together to beckon the world towards kindness.
I’m fortunate enough now to have the resources to help me, but for many, the resources either don’t exist, or people don’t have the ability to pay for or access them.
I want to see mental health become a global priority. We might not be able, or we’re not able, actually, to control all of the challenges and the tragedies that life throws our way, but we can work together. This room and even wider can work together to heal each other.
And we can also try to find the strength, in the best way that we can, to ask for help if we need it.
One in four people in the world suffer from mental illness. 300 million people suffer from depression, 60 million people live with bipolar affective disorder, 23 million people are stricken with schizophrenia, and 800,000 people die every year from suicide.
In low and middle income countries, between 76% and 85% of people with mental disorders
receive no treatment at all. In high-income countries, between 35% and 50% of people are in the same situation.
The people in this room, and the people that you have in your network, have the power to turn kindness into plutonium and change the world for both children and adults, to provide for a better future and make up in whatever small way that we can, microscopic maybe, for the pain those have suffered in the past.
And if anyone is compelled to do so, please join me and my mother Cynthia. We’re the founders of the Born This Way Foundation to empower youth, to inspire a kinder and braver world. We want kids to learn about mental health and the importance of kindness at a very young age.
And it is my personal dream that there would be a mental health expert, teacher, or therapist in every school in this nation, and hopefully, one day, around the world.
Let’s lift our voices. I know we are, but let’s get louder. And not just as women, but as humans,
and see that there are — there are great men in the world. And ask them to hold our hands for justice, that our voices be heard whatever our story may be, for an equal standing that we will fight for justice for women and men and those with other sexual identities.
For me, this is what it means to be a woman in Hollywood.
It means I have a platform. I have a chance to make a change. I pray we listen and believe and pay closer attention to those around us, to those in need.
I’m sorry, I preach a lot, so you’re going to have to bear with me.
Be a helping hand. Be a force for change.
Thank you, Nina Garcia. Thank you, Stephen Gan. I was an outcast and you believed in me, and I wouldn’t be here without you.
Thank you, Elle. Thank you all the loved ones in my life. Bobby, I love you. Everybody at table five.
My fiance Christian. All the loved ones in my life who’d take care of me every day.
And Ryan Murphy, thanks for giving me my first leading role. You know that Golden Globe belongs to you, man. Thank you to all of you, everybody in this room who has supported me in having a voice, and knowing I have something inside me to give that’s more important than any stereotype about Hollywood.
I have my heart to give to you, and I want you to have all of it. Thank you for inspiring me.
I can’t say enough about you. Listening to you speak tonight gave me hope when I have trouble sleeping because I’m afraid, or when I walk out in the world and I’m trembling inside. It’s women like you, Anita, that make me feel strong. Come on.
Be kind to yourselves and be kind to each other. And to the designers that sent me
all those beautiful dresses, thank you too.
It taught me something that I needed to learn again today.
And to quote myself — If there’s one thing you take away from me being here tonight, Elle,
it’s breed compassion, amen fashion.
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