Lady Gaga was the surprise special guest at a conference for young women this past week, where she opened up about her battles with disordered eating and body dysmorphia. Held at fancy private institution the Brentwood School, the conference was organized by a group of students and also featured Maria Shriver (a Brentwood parent) and Mary J. Blige. Gaga discussed her mission against bullying and–though she’s mentioned it before–candidly discussed her battle with bulimia:

“I used to throw up all the time in high school. So I’m not that confident. And maybe it’s easier for me to talk about it now because I don’t do it anymore. I wanted to be a skinny little ballerina but I was a voluptuous little Italian girl whose dad had meatballs on the table every night. I used to come home and say, ‘Dad, why do you always give us this food? I need to be thin.’ And he’d say, ‘Eat your spaghetti.’ It’s really hard, but you’ve got to talk to somebody about it.

Every video I’m in, every magazine cover, they stretch you; they make you perfect. It’s not real life. I’m gonna say this about girls: the dieting wars have got to stop. Everyone just knock it off. Because at the end of the day, it’s affecting kids your age. And it’s making girls sick.”

Gaga eventually won out against her eating disorder… because it was affecting her voice. Shrewdly, the pop singer pointed out that she was fortunate to have that as a guiding light: ”The acid on your vocal chords — it’s very bad. But for those of you who don’t sing, you maybe don’t have that excuse until it’s too late. It’s very dangerous.”

We think it’s great that Gaga chose a conference for young women as the forum for this kind of thing. We tend to be quite cynical about celebrity eating disorder admissions, because so often they’re just an excuse to snag a cover.

For example:

(HuffPo, Idolator)