Lady Gaga Channels Her Troubled Teenage Self

Lady Gaga

Courtesy V Magazine

updated 08/13/2013 AT 3:45 PM ET

originally published 08/13/2013 AT 4:15 PM ET

She’s the new queen of reinvention but Lady Gaga really takes that title seriously for the September issue of V magazine – posing for four different covers based on different stages in her life.

In the photo featured here, the singer wears a custom Saint Laurent sequined jacket and goes back to her vulnerable teenage years.

“That look was very hard for me because that is how I looked when I was 19 until I was 21 years old Maybe longer,” she says. “I got my hair cut like that when I was 18 and all these really painful things happened during this time.”

The 27-year-old – whose new single, “Applause,” was released on Monday, a week early after it was leaked online – admits it was hard “to go back to that place.”

“I have an ability to experience pain for long periods of time – to endure it, whether it’s mental pain or physical pain,” she explains. “I think it’s because of my discipline as a child. I studied piano and then theater and then dance, so I have this ability to endure long periods of pain. But as a result, when I became an adult at 18, I allowed myself to stay in bad situations because I was able to take the pain.”

“Although I was able to withstand a challenge for that period of time in my youth, the results were destructive. I was left a shell,” she adds. “Does anyone really know what I went through to get here?”

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