10.03.2017

Before you hit play, Lady Gaga’s documentary is not what you think it is…

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This article was originally published on NationalPainReport.com and is being reprinted here with permission from the editor. 

There was an incredible buzz within the fibromyalgia community after pop star Lady Gaga officially announced her fibro diagnosis as part of the publicity leading up to the Sept. 22 release of her Netflix documentary, “Gaga: Five Foot Two” (FF2).

My Facebook feed has been flooded with news articles about Lady Gaga’s diagnosis and what it means for those with fibromyalgia. Articles about the documentary indicated she would be sharing her life with chronic pain, leading some to assume – myself included – that her illness would be a big part of the film.

Lady Gaga's documentary is not what you think it is | Fed Up with Fatigue

With all the hype, I was super excited to watch FF2, but it wasn’t what I expected.

I think a lot of us mistakenly believed fibromyalgia would figure more prominently in the film than it did. In fact, fibromyalgia was never mentioned during the one hour, 40 minute documentary. (I’m guessing her diagnosis may have come after the filming of FF2, which explains why no one uttered the word fibromyalgia.)

About 20 minutes into FF2, as I watched her talk about her self-esteem issues, I started wondering, “What the heck does this have to do with fibromyalgia?” It would be another few minutes before there was any indication that Lady Gaga suffers from chronic pain.

In total, I think there were three main scenes where she shared her health issues, totaling maybe 10 minutes of the documentary. The rest of the film was focused on her life as a performer – how she writes and records music, how she prepares for shows, etc. That’s not a bad thing; it’s just not what I and so many others in the fibromyalgia community were expecting.

As I watched FF2, I tried to see it through the eyes of both a chronic pain patient and a healthy person. As someone who lives with chronic pain, it felt like FF2 sent mixed messages. In one scene, there’s Lady Gaga on the sofa, crying because she’s in pain, but in another scene, she’s rolling around in the dirt, singing and dancing while filming a music video. The two scenes just don’t mesh.

If I was a young, healthy fan, I would’ve thought chronic pain wasn’t a very big deal in Lady Gaga’s life. It seemed more like an afterthought – just something she had to deal with as a performer. I may have even assumed, “Oh, she’s just sore because of all the dancing she does!” I wonder how many viewers will think, “If fibromyalgia is so bad, how is she able to sing and dance like that night after night? She must be overdramatizing her pain!” Some critics have already accused her of faking her illness as an excuse to cancel her European tour.

Whether intentional or not, I feel like the media misrepresented the intent of FF2. If you’re a fan of Lady Gaga as a performance artist, then you will love FF2. The singing, the dancing, the costumes, the makeup – I can see where some would find that entertaining to watch – but if you were hoping FF2 was going to give an accurate representation of life with fibromyalgia, then you will be sadly disappointed. The scenes involving her chronic pain are a small fraction of the entire documentary. Still, it’s a fraction we didn’t have before, and for that I am grateful. Any increase in awareness is a win for the fibromyalgia community – no matter how small.

Now, it’s your turn: Have you watched “Gaga: Five Foot Two” yet? What did you think? Share in the comments below! 

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Why Lady Gaga having fibromyalgia is both a blessing and curse for the fibro community

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Comments

  1. Vanessa says:

    If our illness was like she came across,it would be bliss,the documentary was pathetic,it was for publicity about her music,not the debilitating illness that most of us live with,every day. I would be very surprised she even has it, and if she had the chronic pain and fatigue,there is no way that she would be moving the way she does on stage,it must be at a very acute stage,if she has Fibromyalgia.

  2. Tammy Polozune says:

    I stopped watching it midway through. Just wasn’t about her dealing with fibromyalgia.

  3. Linda Jernigen says:

    Haven’t seen it yet so I appreciate the info. She has mentioned having chronic pain in the past bit didn’t call it fibro. The question that always comes to mind is “How can she stand getting all those tattoos?”. I couldn’t do it.

  4. I thought exactly the same. All the hype I was hoping it would give more than an accurate representation of living with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. But I also know from personal experience that I don’t want my illness to define me and how I battle to live a normal life. So I think although I don’t think it will show the general public about living with chronic illness i think people who live with it will understand it

  5. Sheila says:

    As I started watching FF2, I thought the same thing, this really isn’t about Fibro!! So for that I was disappointed. The documentary is definitely misrepresented. I also agree that the way they depicted her pain issues, crying one minute, rolling around the next, I don’t think that is misrepresenting, at least not in my experience. As one who suffers from Fibro, you do have good days. If you are striving to improve your health, and doing things to help deal with the pain, you will have some good days. For me they are few and far between. Gaga probably has access to a lot more treatments for chronic pain than the average person. For example; massage therapy, medication, nutritionist, personal Chefs, etc. I do recall a good day that I had that was about a week ago. I started to trim back some plants in my front yard, (something I should have done weeks ago) and I kept going and started to trim back the limbs on the tree out in front of my house. Not horrible, but still strenuous. I got a lot done, and I am sure anyone that happened to see me would not guess how much I struggle. But the next day?? OMG I was sore and miserable and am only now (a week later) am getting back to my “normal” self. I think many of us have those days that you are like “Wow, I feel good!!” and then completely over due it because your actually getting stuff done!!
    The documentary does not make that point, but if we all continue to speak up and tell our stories, then people will know. Perhaps Gaga will come out and say something to that effect.

  6. Shelby says:

    Some people, regardless of their health, put career first. Eventually their health will deteriorate to a point that they cannot go any longer. This documentary shows a person dedicated to her career, living with a terrible illness. Why are you expecting to see Fibro as the star of the film? Lady Gaga is the star of the film. Get over it already. This shows that she is really sick. People like me, who could very easily go on disability but don’t because they like to work suffer through it. Get over it and try some positivity. I have loved your blog until now. I am seriously considering dropping it.

  7. Laurie Stewart says:

    Hmmm, I watched it too,as I had heard or read somewhere she suffered with fibromyalgia. Did I miss something because I didn’t hear the word fibromyalgia mentioned once. Maybe I need to watch it again. Did anyone else hear a diagnosis or the word actually said?

  8. Lisa Radelet says:

    I agree with Neva. I don’t think it was ever meant to be a documentary about her fibromyalgia. Maybe those of us in the FM community got our hopes up a little too high? That said, I do think it was useful for the public to witness just how much pain someone with FM goes through and all the different treatments we have to pursue to try and get some relief. And it was good for people to see that, yes, we might seem to be totally “normal” at times and other times be in tremendous amounts of pain. And those are both true. No one’s faking it.

  9. I agree that there was much less screentime that related to the chronic pain than I expected. Not that the whole documentary needed to be devoted to that but I did expect that we might get more than the few scenes that they did show.

    I’m not concerned with the juxtaposition of her being in tears in one scene and dancing in another. Everyone experiences their illnesses differently. There are paralympians with servere chronic pain conditions who compete in what many able-bodied people consider grueling sports.

  10. Yeah I saw the coming attractions and it seemed to be geared about behind the scenes of her life as a star. Like a backstage sort of thing not a focus on Fibro. That’s why I haven’t sat and watched it yet. I would like to see a special that focuses on the disease and what treatments she has tried to cope with it. With her money she can afford to try more options and treatments than most of us could. I am tired of throwing money out the window on meds and physicians especially since I can only work part time.

  11. I agree!!!

  12. Kathy Vincent says:

    I agree 100% with what you stated in your article. I too saw the documentary and was disappointed.
    I had a friend watch it with me so she could know what it feels like and looks like to have Fibromyalgia. I was embarrassed and disappointed. There wasn’t one mention of Fibro in the entire documentary.
    I don’t think it helped the Fibro community at all.
    I hope she can bring more awareness to our pain in the future.
    Thanks for your articles I read them all.
    Kathy Vincent

  13. Cindy Cirlincione says:

    I feel when we are doing some of the things that help us to function which includes medication, seems like she was taking something to help with the pain. She got myofascial release, massage, sauna and IV therapy which is all expensive, I have done them all, temporary relief and then for me it increased my pain. Kundalini Yoga, Meditation and clear light healing help me to function, but I need medication too, all of this helps me to function. When I feel good, because I am doing this, like Lady Gaga, I dance, do yoga, etc….but without that I would be in so much pain beyond words. I am just so glad the film did show her struggling with chronic pain, but I wish she would have mentioned fibromyalgia or had a doctor say it. I appreciate her showing the symptoms of Fibro and the emotions involved and hope she speaks out more it too, so more of us can get the help we need. Wow, she already has been told it is all in her head, disgraceful. If more men had it, it wouldn’t be treated as such.

  14. Rosanna Perrigo says:

    I too waited eagerly to see Lady Gaga’s movie in hopes that it might shed some light on our disease. That it might help gain support from physicians, government officials, etc. on our everyday struggles. As I sat watching, I began crying. Not only for myself, but for all that are suffering now and for all that soon will be diagnosed with our disease. Yes it is a disease! One with no cure. One with many stigmas. One that is recognized on one hand by the government while on the other hand denied. I cried as I listened to Lady Gaga’s physician explain her treatment plan. A plan that no insurance would ever cover! Blood spinning, or stem treatment, costs 15900.00 (I called and asked). Why make it seem that this plan of treatment is a “normal” plan of treatment. Lady Gaga is one lucky woman to have her finances that she has! The movie is in no way helpful to the thousands of us that struggle financially, have to have our treatment plans okayed or denied by some high school graduate in another city, to have to sit across from some judge who believes all the stigmas about our disease…. Sorry, but this movie was in no way about our disease. It was in no way helpful to the thousands of us that suffer from our disease.

  15. Sorry for my English is not my native language. I had being diagnosed with fibromyalgia 18 years ago.. my life goes around few good times and lots of pain. tireness and depression, even though I’m medicated and trying to having a very easy way of life, health food, so swimming every day and so on, my symptoms are worse than ever…. I’m 54 know and going through hormonal changings. I sow the documentary. What I think is that she is still young and had done this before for quite long time.. I was like a GYM rat and the same age as she is when all started. I could kept for long time doing spinning, lifting weights and trying to manage to have the same life stile but I had to live under lots of pain keelers and heavy medication till the next crise, but the crises started do be more and more frequent. I think is how she is managing the all process for the periods that she needs to perform and rehearsal. I could see in her like myself a very depressed and sensitive woman, she cried a lot, she is a very emotional and feeling like a truck had smashed her, but she is a pop star and lthe show must goes on… What I agreed is that the documentary was not about fibromyalgia, it was not even mentioned at all. But the scenes of the people around her trying to easy her pain is quite significant for those who knows what the fibromyalgia is.. Maybe she should have said something more specific about for those that don’t have any knowledge about this condition, but since she diceded to talk aboout, certainly people will relented the pain she is having or at least they will be curious to look at google for more information. I also can’t imagine she would fake so serous matter, she doesn’t need, she is famous enough already.

  16. I loved the documentary and really have a new respect for her as a person, but I have to agree it was a bit disappointing in the aspect of those hoping to bring more light to living with fibro. I came away wondering if she actually has fibro or a different type of chronic pain syndrome. She doesn’t seem to suffer with the debilitating fatigue (which is a bigger problem for me than the pain at this point) or the gut issues, brain fog, or the hundreds of other nervous system issues that can come with it. Maybe she just doesn’t talk about those things, who knows. I’m now looking forward to the documentary Unrest.

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says:

      My hunch is she is probably misdiagnosed. Her pain originally stemmed from a hip injury. She probably has some structural issue from that hip injury. I’ve found conventional doctors have a very limited knowledge of the anatomy of the body and how damage in one area can affect other areas of the body; chiropractors are better at this but most people accept their doctor’s diagnosis as gospel and don’t seek out other opinions. You’re right that there’s much more to fibromyalga than just pain, and the documentary definitely didn’t show any of the fatigue, brain fog, cognitive issues, IBS, migraines, neuropathy, etc. that so many of us deal with.

      • AnnaJo Lewis says:

        that is exactly what I was thinking. I love Lady GaGa so I enjoyed it but she didn’t seem to suffer from any of that in this film. Maybe she/they just didn’t show enough? idk I guess we will just have to wait and see.

  17. Krystle Boymom says:

    Okay so I watched the Lady GaGa movie. I was so excited to get exposure for fibromyalgia sufferes and honestly it was such a let down. It was great if you love her music, but me and my husband sat down hoping to gain some insight into what I go through daily. Nothing on the video talked about fibromyalgia. So it was for sure disappointing!

  18. Missy says:

    Completely agree— I was waiting and hoping she would use her for platform to draw attention to Fibro, but to no avail. At one point I felt frustrated that because of her status as a millionaire/famous singer she has access to her doctor so easily, could call them from another’s doctors office to try to string together a plan. The rest of us need to schlep from one doctor to the next, none of which are interested in the whole person diagnosis that FM commonly is. She seemed to be in pain, but yes, it certainly looked more like a symptom of her tough life as a star.

  19. First of all Im very thankful that I came across your site I love it and it is very helpful. Thank you. Now as a 74 year old former singer and dancer I can tell you in my opin Fibromyalgia is NOT the problem. with that young lady!!! I have had severe Fibromyalgia for almost 20 years> I was first diagnosed when it was just beginning to be a problem by a Dr who is now a Professor at OSU. He is one of the pioneers of this disease. I can tell you there are days when I all but crawl through my house. Every morning while Im trying to get out of bed as soon as my feet hit the floor it is as though someone throws this big blanket full of pain down over me it is horrible.

    I have not seen the film nor do I intend to but have seen her do other things on tv. I realize it is not my place to judge, but I just do not believe that she has it and I doubt very seriously if I am the only one. Just thinking of singing and dancing again does lift my spirits somewhat but knowing that I cannot and never will again do that is heartbreaking. I was also blessed to have a Dr. for 32 years whose wife had severe Fibro so knew where I was coming from. I find it so disappointing to know that in this age of wonderful medical accomplishments Fibromyalgia for the most part is still not taken seriously.

    So I wish everyone the very best and Gods healing. Take care and keep up the good work!!!! God Bless This is my very first comment about anything. But I just dont care for a lot of people who are in severe pain thinking this is a lift. Thank you again.

  20. Robbie says:

    I agree with everything pointed out in this article. I too was anticipating more of a spotlight on Fibromyalgia. Therefore, I was disappointed in the lack of content dealing with CHRONIC PAIN. After watching this program I was left with the opinion that Gaga travels with a group of people that routinely give her massages. Not for chronic pain but, to loosen her muscles to help her perform night after night.

  21. Robin Rozalia Cristina says:

    Hello,
    I saw that question a few times after her “comming out with her illness” and I eill say a few things
    1 – I know about her fibro for a few years. She had depression from wich falled to fibro….it wasn’t something new to me so I didn’t bothered to see this video I just saw here and there a few min.
    2 – as I answered to those that asked that question like you did, I can say this :
    A- I am with fibro and it is possible to get out of pain totally…I did for 2.5 years but worked hard for it. My pain never returned even if crying for weeks. It did when I dealt with a huge trauma wich was equal with grief. I was told and believed for a few weeks that I list someone most dear in my life.
    B – I am about to be out of pain again with much less work because my body remembers. I just was in the office of an alergologyst a few days ago wich by force tried to make me hurt during a fibro check because he didn’t beleive I am out of pain and without any medications meant to fibro.
    C – How did I do that? I did it with intensive sport, nothing cardio but very harsh training. Yes, harsh…because at start I paniked that my muscles and nerves didn’t react to quite intensive sport and I fealt I need more intensive in order to feal my muscles work. I built my own sport program and started with 5 min a day every day very harsh stretches up to 90 min a day…whit the last I added 300 crunches and I stayed there. I was pain released even if I didn’t trained (to check myself out) more than two months. My purpose was to see how my muscles and nervous system reacts when I start to train again. I wanted to see if they normalized. If when I started to train i didn’t fealt pain (as in after workout pain as everyone should feal when starting to train) after that 2 months pause when I restarted to train again I fealt that “normal after workout pain”. I was very happy. Of course that I could get faster back to sports comparing with the first time because my body remembered. To recheck myself I traveled outside the country to obtain 4 sports trainer certifications in wich 2 of them included 8-9 hours of training day after day for two days plus 1 hour of pause in the midle…imagine 8 hours of continuous harsh sport with fibromyalgia.when I did it the trainers were betting behind the scenes that the certification wich was 9 continuous hours I won’t be able to bearer….healthy people wich were already high level trainers in Europe had a hard time to get that certification….the certifications were very demanding and high leveled. 2 other certification took only 4 hours each. And Yes, I wanted to go homer at that certification because I learned to put limits but I didn’t. I didn’t because I was braking point was in warm-up not the certification itself. As I said I didn’t trained cardio at all as part of my training because my purpose was to get rid of pain and not to do cardio…My plan was to do cardio after I’ll check my situation as I did. So I took 5 minutes to rest from the warm-up and started the certification and completed the exercises I missed because if it would of missed one than I wouldn’t get my certification. The exams were imediately after the sport courses. It was exhausting but my nervous system recovered allot and so my muscles…And now I am again without pain and just restarted to retrain. I’ve been involved in an accident , i am bruised all over and am with a finger broken and i am shore that the pain i feal now is not fibro but because the accident. I am certain that after healing my finger wich is fixed with another nothing will stop me in matter of days to be pain free again because this way is hard for me to train and all the hits I took were wery bad. My doctor laughted st me when I started training the first time asking me if I enrolled to commando…but it payed off. Training daily is the answer and for me harsh was right unlike what others say.

  22. neva mann says:

    I’m both fan of Gaga and a fibro sufferer. I wasn’t expecting ff2 to be a fibro documentary. I took from it that she was still trying to figure out what was going on as many of the majority of us went through.
    I never got the sense that the media was marketing as a health documentary.
    That’s just my 2 cents

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