It should come as no surprise that Gossip front woman Beth Ditto had a lot to say in her recent interview with The Advocate. A new book to promote — her memoir Coal to Diamonds is now on sale — is reason enough for any celebrity to give revealing interviews, but let’s give Ditto a little more credit. As one of the fiercest and most fearless women in rock and roll, she’s always been candid and proud of who she’s become — the interview and memoir just give us a little bit better of an idea of how she got there. While musically, Ditto is a daughter of the Riot Grrrl punk movement, her actual childhood fraught with sexual abuse (committed by her uncle) and poverty (her gold record currently hangs in her mother’s double-wide trailer).
Among other things, she credits feminism, therapy and the discovery of her queer identity as what saved her from her life in Judsonia, Arkansas, a place where women “never had a break to catch their breath or to ask themselves what the hell happened.… Young women pull a bunch of children into the world behind them, without a rest for their brains or their bodies or their hearts. No space to understand the abuse that had happened, never mind time to figure out how to unlearn what they didn’t even know they’d been taught, or to have a fighting chance to break the cycle.”
Of course, no interview would be complete without some mention of her weight, a fact that Ditto doesn’t mind one bit.
“I think it’s great. I feel like it’s just like taking one for the team. I think it’s really cool that there are people like Adele on the cover of Vogue and Rolling Stone, and like I think it’s really important that people are talking about your body, because if they don’t, then you’ll never be able to break that barrier.” She says because of her and Adele, when a 200-pound girl wants to be a singer in a band “it’s going to be a lot fucking easier…I know [some musicians] are like, ‘Oh, it’s all about the music.’ But I come from riot grrrl, where it’s not just about the music, it’s about the political message, and that’s just as important as the music to me. I don’t mind being a guinea pig.”
As far as guinea pigs go, Beth Ditto is a stellar role model. Famous as hell in Europe and not-quite-famous-enough in the U.S., Beth Ditto is not “not letting her weight hold her back.” Instead, with her involvement in fashion and the music industry, she’s demonstrating that weight shouldn’t hold a person back to begin with.
While the discussion of her weight doesn’t bother her, she does feel sorry for other women in the spotlight:
“I feel sorry…for people who’ve had skinny privilege and then have it taken away from them,” she writes in her book. “I have had a lifetime to adjust to seeing how people treat women who aren’t their idea of beautiful and therefore aren’t their idea of useful, and I had to find ways to become useful to myself.”
Judging by her constant forward projection, it seems that she’s become useful to herself and then some.
Beth Ditto Interview: Diamonds Are Forever [The Advocate]