By Lisa Friedman
It was 12:32 a.m. early Friday morning. I was laying down in my dorm room bed, simultaneously doing hip stretches, completing math homework and hanging onto my stuffed animal. I looked at the clock and thought about going to bed because it was past midnight and I knew I had an 8 a.m. class that morning. But then another thought entered my brain: “OMG! It’s Friday the 22nd!!! ‘Five Foot Two’ is out!!!” So there I was, logging onto my Netflix account at 12:35 a.m. I just could not wait any longer.
“Gaga: Five Foot Two” is Lady Gaga’s new documentary on Netflix. In this documentary, Gaga goes through her daily life – only the cameras are there to really capture what is happening. I was beyond excited to see what Netflix and Lady Gaga came up with. Last week, Lady Gaga announced that she had officially been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Gaga also spoke about how the documentary would have some footage of her health struggles. I was not sure what to expect, but I was eager to find out what was in store. I typed the name of the documentary into the search bar and then clicked on the play button.
Within the first five minutes of the documentary, I knew I was in for something very special. What struck me the most was how raw the footage was. Not only was there footage of Lady Gaga recording in the studio, but there was also very personal footage of her in times of weakness and pain. It was real, it was human. I feel that being real with a chronic illness is very difficult. I often find myself smiling or laughing when all I want to do is curl up in a ball and scream because of the pain. Lady Gaga found a way to connect the world to chronic illness.
I do not usually get emotional, but I did while watching this documentary. Lady Gaga said a few things that struck me from a scene where she is laying on a coach in pain, weeping. She said, “My f*cking face hurts.” That sentence made so much sense to me. With fibromyalgia, there is no break from the pain. You cannot hide – it is everywhere. Lady Gaga got very emotional later in this scene and said, “Do I look pathetic? I’m so embarrassed.” Whenever I have a flare-up, I usually am alone because I am thinking these same words Lady Gaga said. I do not want people to think of me as my illness, but rather as myself, as Lisa.
Even though Lady Gaga was going through this terrible pain, she let the cameras in and was emotional. She showed what it is like to deal with fibromyalgia on a daily basis. That is not an easy thing to do. I know I would never be comfortable enough to share my deepest struggles on camera with millions of people around the world.
In her documentary, Gaga also humanized physical and mental illness. The documentary gives the audience a glimpse into Gaga’s perspective, from pre-shows to doctor appointments to the paparazzi. Gaga spoke about her anxiety on multiple occasions throughout the documentary. She tried to describe what she was feeling in moments of pain and despair. Lady Gaga put her heart and soul into making sure this documentary showcased what it is like to deal with illnesses, and it truly shows.
While I was watching this documentary, I realized Lady Gaga had changed the game. For years, I went from doctor to doctor, test to test, trying to figure out what was wrong with me. The footage in this documentary is footage most people with chronic illnesses do not share. It is so intimate, personal and incredibly moving. I related to it on such a high level, and I know others will as well. Thank you, Lady Gaga, for using your impact to educate the world on chronic illness. You are an inspiring role model and I cannot wait to see what you do next.