Listful Thinking: 4 Stars Who Have Handled Bulimia Struggles Way Better Than Lady Gaga

Content notice: emetophobia.

Ew, ick, ugh. Lada Gaga's latest attention-grabbing gambit was to have a performance artist vomit paint on her during a South by Southwest performance, presumably as a way to . . . actually, we don't know why she did it, but we know she's probably regretting it now.

People were so outraged that the stunt promoted bulimia, they started a petition to force her to cut ties with the performance artist, Millie Brown. Starlet Demi Lovato—who has been candid about her struggles with the disease—also slammed Gaga on Twitter for "glamorizing" the disorder.

Brown has hit back against the accusations, and one could look at the uproar as a bit hyperbolic. After all, throwing up can symbolize all sorts of things outside bulimia, from purging emotions to the feeling of stomache-churning angst, and we must take liberties with art if we want it to flourish.

But here's the thing: Brown doesn't just emulate throwing up. She actually makes herself vomit. Moreover, she starves herself for two days before to make the "art" work. This means she is actually, legitimately, fully exhibiting bulimic behavior, and Gaga—who has struggled with the disease herself—should know better than to promote that as some sort of trendy, edgy performance element.

We could continue to join the attack brigade on Gaga, but instead let's look at other stars who have handled their struggles with eating disorders classily and correctly.

Gaga, take notes.

1. Demi Lovato

In addition to publicly slamming Gaga, Lovato has been extremely outspoken about her bulimic past. In an ABC News interview a few years ago, she made sure to point out she had "an unhealthy relationship with food," while noting it was her way of expressing body shame. "I was matching the inside to the outside," she said. Considering the fact that her fan base is almost entirely tweens and teens, Lovato's incredible frankness has no doubt had a tremendous impact on a highly impressionable audience.

2. Nicole Scherzinger

The glamorous Pussycat Dolls singer has not shied away from discussing the ugly side of her former battle with bulimia, including the blisters and scars she got on her hands and feelings of disgust she felt. For someone who's career is so closely tied to hyper-confident sex appeal, talking about the grossness of what she went through is a particularly brave act. 

3. Elton John

It's easy to forget that men, too, can battle bulimia, so Elton John deserves praise for speaking out about his battle with the disease. In fact, many celeb men have spoken out about overcoming bulimia and anorexia, including Russell Brand and Billy Bob Thornton. You go, guys!

4. Portia de Rossi

The Arrested Development star has been upfront about how the pressures of Hollywood, and its constant demands to be thin, helped drive her to bulimia and anorexia. Many stars shy away from directly making this connection, so Rossi's to be commended for calling out Hollywood on its dirty ways.

These stars demonstrate what Gaga has failed to grasp: that being a star carries with it the opportunity to influence many, and that this power should be used to prevent eating disorders, not promote them. We get that Gaga needs to be provocative, but can't she do this without provoking dangerous disorders?

Image: Eva Rinaldi/Flickr

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