It's a hard-knock life -- even for wildly successful superstars like Lady Gaga. The "Applause" singer, 27, may seem confident and unshakable now, but she's faced her fair share of adversity in the past. Gracing the cover and inside pages of Elle magazine's October issue, the star opens up about the obstacles she's had to overcome to get to where she is today.
"Everyone is so cynical -- that I can't purely love my fans, or share an honest story about my past, without someone asking me if I really, truly struggled," she laments to the mag. "Do you know how much dirt I ate? Do you know the men I had to crawl through, the people that disrespected my body, my mind, my heart?"
It's because of those people and those early struggles, she says, that she created her Mother Monster persona in the first place. (Gaga was born Stefani Germanotta.)
"I am -- Stefani is -- a perpetually tortured artist. That's why I changed my name," she explains. "I can't be her in public. She would be a mess!"
As Gaga, though, she feels empowered and strong. Asked how she handles the pressures that come with being a world-famous pop icon, she replies, "What are you talking about pressure? I'm great under pressure. I'm warrior. I'm Rocky, round 12."
For more from Gaga, pick up the new issue of Elle, on stands Sept. 24.