Over My Shoulder Foundation intern Sarah Gross writes to you again this National Women’s History Month. She dissects the essence of Ellen and Lady Gaga, two strong female mentors who are transforming the world of female mentoring. As such successful figures emphasize the importance of genuine expression, they inspire girls and women all over the world to express themselves also. Now THAT is a mentoring message I will celebrate!
-Dawn Carroll, Over My Shoulder Foundation Co-Founder
Strong female mentors and social figures of empowerment are helping women embrace their potential. Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres and pop music phenomenon Lady Gaga are two of among many female mentors who inspired me through outreach and activism.
Ellen DeGeneres – Encouraging Entertainer, Altruistic Optimist
Ellen DeGeneres, a long-standing celebrity, uses her public persona to bring light to her struggles as a homosexual woman while simultaneously helping and caring for others. Her daytime talk show recognizes individuals who have made a difference in the world, be it through artistic talent, philanthropy, or charity work. Ellen brings awareness to positive actions, applauding those who do good work and encouraging her audiences to carry on the trend of good karma.
Her public image of positive energy is enhanced through her comedy: each show begins with dance and comedic interaction with the audience, and this cheerful mood lasts throughout the show. Her role as comedian factors into her role as caretaker, as mentor. She mentors people every day and demonstrates altruism when she supports those who need encouragement. Her selflessness is apparent as she gives back to the community and supports charities, helping people and animals who require love and attention.
Ellen’s eagerness to be a mentor, and subsequent success as a mentor, helps others immensely but is also a form of self-help. She embraces the mentoring philosophy in her life even as she strives against discrimination by those who disapprove of her personal choices. Her sexual orientation, a most personal part of who she is, has led her to confront discrimination. Her talk show and other forms of outreach (website and books, for example) use love, comedy, and charity to combat discrimination and negative energy in the world.
Lady Gaga – Fearless Achiever, Empowering Trend-Setter
Lady Gaga has similarly faced negativity in the form of bullying. Struggling to gain acceptance in a society that did not understand and belittled her, she turned to music to complete her cycle of self-development while her status as a mentor burgeoned. Perceived by some as outlandish, Lady Gaga has established a unique public image. Her music is mainstream and immediately recognizable, as is her appearance. She dons bizarre outfits and her stage performances are nothing short of spectacles. This image projects a personality onto her, of someone who is wild and fearless, and thus succeeds in making her a marketable celebrity. This image, however, disguises the difficulties she has had to overcome in rising to fame.
Lady Gaga’s recent album, Born This Way, remedies the conflict of female caring as she fosters a stronger relationship with her fans while addressing problems she sees in society relating to identity and individuality. Tracks like “Born This Way” and “Marry the Night” convey a tumultuous relationship with society but ultimately promote self-empowerment by confronting fears and accepting oneself. Using music as a source of strength—as artistic expression without personal and/or social criticism—Lady Gaga cares for her own needs and inspires others to find their source of strength in overcoming personal battles. She has expanded the empowerment effort, and truly shows herself to live as a mentor through her foundation which launches in February 2012. The foundation is named after her successful album, and the mission statement explains its goals in this way:
Lady Gaga proudly announces the launch of the Born This Way Foundation (BTWF), which will support programs and initiatives that deal with all aspects of empowering youth. The non-profit charitable organization will lead youth into a braver new society where each individual is accepted and loved as the person they were born to be. BTWF will focus on youth empowerment and equality by addressing issues like self-confidence, well-being, anti-bullying, mentoring and career development and will utilize digital mobilization as one of the means to create positive change.
Strong mentoring organizations like BTWF and OMSF can bring about the positive change that Ellen DeGeneres and Lady Gaga advocate. Ellen and Lady Gaga use comedy and celebrity, respectively, as a way to deal with negativity and to nurture mentoring. Ellen and Lady Gaga make their voices resonate as they become beacons of female empowerment and renews the strength of female mentorology.