Once upon a time, back in the days of radio and record players, you could be a singer without people seeing you.
Now, in the age of the internet, that’s simply impossible. Not only do we all know what our favorite musicians look like, but we also expect to know about their personal values. Between concerts, interviews, and social media, the artist as a person matters just as much as their latest hits.
If you follow Harli Effect (or are visiting amidst Love, Lexxi browsing), you care about self-love. So, who in the world of music is talking and living a body-positive life? Here are a few of The Harli Effect’s favorite musicians using their voice(s) for positive impact:
“God I wish somebody would've told me that thighs of thunder, meant normal human thighs.”
Jax is a powerful product of the new world of social media activism and fame. From her hit songs, 90's Kids, Ring Pop and Like My Father, her captivating voice is as impressive as her songwriting artistry. Her viral drop of Summer '22 “Victoria’s Secret” is an empowering (sing out loud) anthem examining the harmful effects of 'big corporate' marketing and their impact on the body image of girls and women of all ages. The tune was inspired by a young girl she babysat and her experience being bullied by friends while trying on bikinis at the store. The powerful meaning behind the song also relates to Jax's personal journey and her own battle with body dysmorphia. It went viral on TikTok... for good reason.
Jax's intention was not to 'take down industry conglomerates' but to empower and inspire all female generations to embrace the parts of our bodies we've become so obsessed about "perfecting" and to embrace who we are. Decades of billboards, magazine covers and publicized events strongly contributed to body dysmorphia, where girls strived to achieve a "thigh gap" and many women altered their bodies to meet an unrealistic standard of beauty. Her anthem is an impactful one, and it's a fun one for air-guitar and head-banging (try it).
“I don’t have it all... I’m not claiming to, but I know that I’m special.”
Selena Gomez has long been a huge advocate for mental health and body confidence. She’s open about her struggles with self-esteem and their ties to her auto-immune disease, lupus, as well as her struggles with bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety. The topic means so much to Gomez that she launched the mental health startup Wondermind with her mother. Body positivity even found its way into her makeup line Rare Beauty; the foundation comes in 48 different shades. And, of course, we can’t not bring up her iconic body-positive TikToks.
Her vulnerability opening up about her personal journey has made waves among girls and women of all ages. Many of us can relate, it's refreshing when celebrities can give their audiences a glimpse into their own challenges... they're human just like the rest of us.
“I'm so secure with insecurities, why is being unique such an impurity? Why are the numbers on the scale like a god to me?”
Alicia Keys is one of the best-known activist celebrities of our day, and she’s no stranger to the everyday personal battles in the world of self-image. Earlier this year, Keys talked to People about the adverse effects of social media on body image and the importance of unplugging:
“We’re all beautiful, no matter our style or body shape. It’s beautiful to feel positive about your body, but it’s also fine that you don’t look like everybody else, or that you look different, or you have a different shape of this, or your legs are thicker, or your breasts are larger, or your breasts are smaller, or whatever the thing might be.”
Thank you Alicia for gracing this world with your angelic voice in a way that inspires confidence within the walls (or cars, buses, taxis) of girls and women listening - who often unknowingly need an uplift.
“Is it news? News to who? That I really looked just like the rest of you.”
Billie Eilish has become a poster child for Gen Z, so her embrace of the body-positive movement is no surprise. Eilish burst onto the scene at age 13 with her moody single Ocean Eyes. A huge part of her brand was her baggy clothes. Not oversized hoodies and sweatpants baggy; clothes so baggy you couldn’t imagine what her body looked like. Early speculation suggested it was her taste in fashion. But later, Eilish revealed that it was a strategy to avoid critical comments and sexualization. She told Vogue Australia, “What I like about just dressing like I’m 800 sizes bigger than I am is it kind of gives nobody the opportunity to judge what your body looks like. I don’t want to give anyone the excuse of judging."
The strategy didn’t last. Eilish started wearing more form-fitting clothes after she was photographed in a tank top by paparazzi. She faced immediate mixed backlash and praise, but we applaud her authentic and professional approach. She talks about the experience on her sophomore album Happier Than Ever, with the spoken word track Not My Responsibility and song Overheated.
"Kissing on my mirror, staring in my eyes, appreciating every curve and crevice, smack my thighs.”
As a plus-size woman in Hollywood whose brand is self-love... it’s no wonder a star like Lizzo could only exist within the past couple of years, and we're here for it. Dancing, singing about her confidence and body, and just generally being unrelentingly herself, Lizzo has become a source of fun and authenticity in the world of self-acceptance.
She’s also not afraid to call out the inequalities she faces as a plus-sized woman. She publicly confronted TikTok for removing a video of her in a bathing suit:
“Tiktok keeps taking down my videos with me in my bathing suit, but allows other videos with girls in bathing suits. I wonder why? ... Tiktok... we need to talk."
Another time, the internet shamed her for going on a juice detox, with people claiming she was “caving into” diet culture. Lizzo talked about how the choice was for her mental and physical health, and brought attention to the toxic assumption that weight loss is the sole reason for healthy habits. Yet another important perspective on the relationship between health, weight and confidence.
“And we see you over there on the internet, comparing all the girls who are killing it, but we figured you out, we all know now, we all got crowns, you need to calm down.”
Taylor Swift has had a more unique road into the body positivity conversation than the other artists on this list. She began her career with little talk on body confidence. In fact, she was actually ridiculed for close friendships with supermodels (which is bizarre in its own right). However, a stronger voice arrived at the beginning of her reputation era; she fought back against people shaming her for wearing a nude body suit in her ...Ready For It? music video.
A few years later, her documentary Miss Americana had Swift talking even more about her experience with self-love and acceptance. Swift got candid about the pressures of thinness in Hollywood and her experience with an eating disorder.
“There’s always some standard of beauty that you’re not meeting. ‘Cause if you’re thin enough, then you don’t have that ass that everybody wants. But if you have enough weight on you to have an ass, then your stomach isn’t flat enough. It’s all just fu***ng impossible.”
While she doesn’t have any music directly relating to this experience or body image yet (fingers double crossed for her next album), her self-confidence and openness can be inspiring for respecting and accepting yourself. Swift is an important reminder that body positivity is important for everyone, even those who may not seem affected by the topic.
Written by Victoria Fluet & Meg Smith