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Lady Gaga as Role Model? Why She Deserves All the Applause

We all know how easy it is to dismiss or ridicule the music our kids listen to. One minute they're listening to an artist they love, and then we have to come in and mock it by singing along off-key and dancing around in a cape we've made out of a bath towel. Not that I know anyone who has ever done that. Ahem.

And while some "artists" probably deserve a little ridicule, there are others that we as parents might want to take a closer look at and commend for the positive influence they've had on our kids. My daughter has been a fan of Lady Gaga for years, and I've come to respect what she's done to reach out to her audience to help them through challenges they're facing, particularly in regards to body image and their emotional well-being.

I'm not saying you'll want to encourage your kid to show up at school in a meat dress, but here are a few reasons Gaga has earned this mom's respect.

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She speaks honestly and frankly about her anxiety and depression, issues that many teens are dealing with.

"I've suffered through depression and anxiety my entire life, I still suffer with it every single day," Lady Gaga recently told Billboard. "I just want these kids to know that that depth that they feel as human beings is normal. We were born that way. This modern thing, where everyone is feeling shallow and less connected? That's not human."

She encourages young people to make the right decisions for their own emotional well-being.

Gaga recently spoke at the Emotion Revolution, a day-long summit that was hosted by the singer's Born This Way Foundation and the Yale Center For Emotional Intelligence. Speaking to a room full of teens, Gaga talked about the pressure to maintain her image—and revealed that it almost led to her quitting the music business two years ago.

I have a lot more to offer than my image. I don't like being used to make people money.

"I have had to make decisions like, why am I unhappy? … Why is it that you want to quit music?" she said. "I don't like wasting my time, spending days just shaking peoples' hands and smiling, and taking selfies.

"Feels shallow to my existence," she continued. "I have a lot more to offer than my image. I don't like being used to make people money. I feel sad when I'm overworked. And that I just become a money-making machine, and my passion and creativity take a backseat. That makes me unhappy."

She isn't afraid to take on the issue of campus rape.

Her recent video "Til It Happens To You" was a brutal depiction of campus rape and its casualties. It's an issue that until recently was barely spoken of, even though 16 to 20 percent of women are sexually assaulted while in college and 88 percent of women raped on campus do not report it. "The likelihood that college students are not getting the assistance and support they deserve is heartbreaking, and the knowledge that sexual predators are left free to attack again is criminal," she wrote—along with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo—in support of legislation that would give support to victims of campus assault.

Gaga's involvement in this project touched close to home; last year she revealed that she was raped when she was 19. "I've gone through a lot of mental and physical therapy and emotional therapy to heal over the years," she said in an interview with Howard Stern. "My music's been wonderful for me. But, you know, I was a shell of my former self at one point. I was not myself."

"It didn't affect me as much right after as it did about four or five years later," Gaga recounts. "It hit me so hard. I was so traumatized by it that I was like, 'Just keep going.' Because I just had to get out of there."

Related: That Time My Teen Daughter Got a Tattoo

She inspires others not only to be creative, but to take their art seriously

"Live for what you create and die protecting it," is a quote by a Gaga, and happens to be what my daughter chose for her very first tattoo on her 19th birthday last year. She's a musician, and has always said how much Gaga has inspired her to pursue her passion for music and to believe in herself.

While accepting the Young Artist Award from the Americans for the Arts organization last month, Gaga expressed how much her music and other creative pursuits have shaped her life. "[Art] has totally cured me," she shared. " While art can make you foolish and wild, it has always been a warm blanket for me to rely on, something I always knew would be there for me, the byproduct or the unicorn, the fantasy that arose out of whatever struggle I was experiencing or whatever torment."

Photograph by: Instagram

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