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Self-Care Sunday: 3 Body-Positive Songs That Will Increase Your Self-Esteem

17277024202_8cdc70dacf_zPicture of Meghan Trainor by Drew de F Fawkes

By Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD

Pop music, like so many other forms of mass media, glorifies a very narrow definition of what is “beautiful,” and women who are plus-sized are rarely represented, either in lyrics or videos. Teens and women look at these videos, and hear these songs, and may feel like they don’t measure up, or that their self-worth is all tied up in a number on a scale or a dress size. It’s much more difficult to find songs that elevate women, that encourage girls of all shapes and sizes to love themselves, but I’ve done a bit of digging and come up with some great tunes featuring powerful lyrics that encourage body positivity. Listen to these songs, absorb the lyrics, and see how they make a difference in the way you feel.

1) Lady Gaga, “Born this Way”

Released in the summer of 2011, “Born This Way” was a chart-topper that was embraced primarily as an LGBT anthem, but it goes so much deeper than that. It’s about loving yourself exactly as you are, regardless of what you look like, or what the bullies say. Gaga paints a beautiful picture of an impressionable young girl (perhaps it was Gaga herself) learning this vital life lesson from her mother:

My mama told me when I was young/”We are all born superstars”/She rolled my hair and put my lipstick on/In the glass of her boudoir/”There’s nothing wrong with loving who you are,” she said/”Cause he made you perfect, babe”

The theme of the song is that God — or a higher power, or Mother Nature, or whoever you believe in — does not make mistakes and that there is no “perfect” way to be. To change ourselves to fit someone else’s standard of beauty would be going against all that is natural. We are all perfect in our uniqueness, and self-confidence is the key to moving ahead in life, to being everything we are capable of being. This theme is so important to Lady Gaga and her mother that they created the Born This Way Foundation to support young people in their struggle for self-esteem.

2)  Trisha Paytas, “Fat Chicks”

YouTuber Trisha Paytas may not be a household name (yet), but she made a big splash last year with the release of “Fat Chicks.” Paytas is not afraid to be sexy and fat, and her appearance brings to mind glamour queens of the 1950s and 60s like Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield, or more recently, the late Anna Nicole Smith.

In the video for this song, Paytas and her plus-sized friends wear tight clothes, dance seductively and are every bit as beautiful as the thinner girls. The storyline features Paytas as a waitress in a diner, fighting back against Mean Girl-type bullying by stealing the girls’ boyfriends! (Okay, maybe that’s not the most mature course of action, but the point of the video is that bigger girls can be sexy too.) Her lyrics really drive home that message:

Oh, I’m no stick figure/Oh baby, that’s okay/I’m so beautiful In my own way … Now, I know, I know./Fat is a word used to negatively bring down a girl with a little extra junk in the trunk/But being called fat is just a label!/A label put on to us by others who can’t handle this wow-wow-wow!/So I’ll take that label and wear it because it does not define me./You wanna call me fat?/(Laughs)/Well, you’d be right I am F.A.T.: Fabulous And Tasty!

Paytas is also the author of several books, including Curvy and Loving It, a guide for teens and adults on how to live and love confidently as a plus-sized woman.

3) Meghan Trainor, “All About That Bass”

Last month, Meghan Trainor took home a well-deserved Grammy for Best New Artist. The singer’s All About That Bass was a major hit in 2014 and became a huge body-positive anthem. It was a catchy pop tune with a deep message, and even helped Trainor accept herself. As Trainor explains in a recent article, she spent a long time not feeling comfortable in her own body and being convinced that her figure would not be accepted when she was trying to make it in pop music. But writing “All About That Bass” helped Trainor feel confident again. Like “Fat Chicks,” “All About That Bass” promotes the idea that fat is just as sexy as thin. Trainor sings:

Yeah it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size two/But I can shake it, shake it like I’m supposed to do/’Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase/All the right junk in all the right places.

Lyrics like these give girls confidence that they don’t have to lose weight just to make boys like them, that boys are attracted to all shapes and sizes. She also takes aim at the false and damaging practice of magazines using photo altering software to achieve what they deem to be “perfection.”

I see the magazines working that Photoshop/We know that sh– ain’t real/Come on now, make it stop/If you got beauty beauty just raise ’em up/’Cause every inch of you is perfect/From the bottom to the top.

Although we have a way to go when it comes to having enough body-positive messages in pop music, artists and songs like these are encouraging. Hopefully, more will follow their examples.

And, hey, don’t stop with just these three tunes. Build a whole playlist of body-positive tunes to inspire you! You can find plenty of others right here.