Some people may remember Lady Gaga's harrowing performance at the Oscars, where she sung "Til' It Happens to You," a song dedicated to sexual assault survivors. In 2014, Gaga announced that she was a survivor of sexual abuse herself and has talked about the lack of self-confidence and fear she has had as a result. However, at this year's awards ceremony, Gaga decided to share her strength with other survivors by standing on stage together during her performance. To continue the unity that the group of survivors had, they chose to all get the same tattoo.
However, Gaga noted that getting through the performance, especially the rehearsals, was particularly difficult.
"The first day of rehearsal with all the survivors I could barely get myself together. My body was wrecked with inflammation and pain, crying and shaking the whole walk to the stage. The whole night before I did not sleep," Gaga said in an Instagram post from the Oscars that featured some of the survivors. "The fear of knowing I would finally face that I belonged in that group. I told them I was so sorry I couldn't be Lady Gaga for them, that I couldn't even get dressed. I could barely get through the song, couldn't hit any of the high notes."
"Gaga admitted that this group of survivors helped inspire her."
A surprising acceptance
However, the survivors appreciated Gaga's vulnerability. They noted that they could understand her pain and emotions because they had similar ones. Gaga admitted that this group of survivors helped inspire her and brought her the encouragement she needed to get on stage and perform.
"They told me they were there for me to support me because they believed this message needed to be heard. Without them I never could have felt strong," she continued in her heartfelt post.
Given the strength and support the group shared, they decided to get a tattoo to remember their bonding experience. However, instead of just picking out a tattoo from a book, one of the survivors created a design that expressed the group's feelings.
Jacqueline Lin, the creator of the design, told Teen Vogue that she decided to create the symbol to reflect unity and their infinite bond. The image also incorporates Lady Gaga's favorite flower, the white rose, which represents growth and new life. The overall shape almost looks like a flame, and Lin noted that this symbol is supposed to give this group of survivors the strength and power they need to continue to move on and grow. The image also has complex loops within it that are supposed to be representative of the group's DNA structure.
Revealing the truth
In 2014, Gaga came out to the public about her sexual assault incident. The singer first told Howard Stern about the incident on his SiriusXM talk show. Stern had asked about her most recent performance at South by Southwest, where she had sung the song "Swine" off her latest album. During the performance, Gaga had another artist vomit colored paint onto her while she rode a mechanical bull. Gaga announced to the crowd, and the perpetrator, that he couldn't degrade her as much as she degraded herself.
Naturally, that brought questions from the media and Howard Stern, and Gaga finally told the story of what happened. Though her assault was at 19, Gaga noted it was harder to deal with five years later than in the moment, but she recognized that she needed to address the issue and put it behind her. She noted that ignoring the incident and drinking her way through it wouldn't help solve any problems. Now, she and her fellow Oscar performers can look at their tattoos instead as a symbol of empowerment and renewal, and as a reminder that they are not alone.