Carry That Weight: Musicians, Fitness & Body Image
So, February is here and it's time to reflect back on your recent promise to eat less, exercise more and lose weight. The first month of 2014 was filled with hope for a lighter and brighter tomorrow.
How did you do? If you shed even a few L-Bs, congratulations to you, friend. You're one out of every five who swore to do better and is maintaining that goal. The rest of us have already returned to the sofa with our chili cheese fries and super-size sodas.
Body image is a heavy matter, particularly for the young and uncertain among us, those who haven't yet come to the mature realization that what someone else thinks of you is far less important than what you think of yourself.
Today's pop singers have tried to share that message for these listeners, with songs like Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful" and Katy Perry's "Roar." But outside of a three-minute motivational song, what do musicians who truly know the struggle have to say about weight issues? Is there anything relevant or practical to find in their own personal weight challenges? Let's see:
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KELLY CLARKSON In some respects, Clarkson has become the American idol of Americans with weight challenges. It's probably a position she never hoped for, but media and bloggers obsess over her weight fluctuations as if the numbers on her scale are the codes for launching Armageddon's nuclear attack.
I don't have Clarkson's cell digits, so I couldn't ask her, but I feel pretty sure there are times she wishes she were more fit and other times when she just doesn't give a damn. That's basically the reality for most anyone trying to lose weight, which makes her no different from us. Because she is so honest about it, she's endeared herself to many who empathize.
"When people talk about my weight, I'm like, 'You seem to have a problem with it; I don't. I'm fine!'" she once said in Self magazine. "My happy weight changes. Sometimes I eat more; sometimes I play more."
She's now married and expecting her first child, and spoke openly with E! in November about being concerned she'll struggle with losing her baby weight, taking her frank discourse on the subject to a whole new audience.
PATRICK STUMP Fall Out Boy's front man lost 60 pounds a couple of years ago and has basically kept the weight off. When he spoke about his body transformation, he focused less on what it meant to look more fit than how it felt.
"There are these perceptions sometimes that are absolutely wrong, like the jolly fat man," he told the Associated Press. "I've come to the realization that no one is happy being really fat. You get there because you're not dealing with something. When you deal with stuff, you lose weight."
He also let people in on how he managed to drop all that weight.
"It's a sentence long: diet and exercise," Stump said. "I mean, it's three words! There's this whole industry around it, but it's no more complicated than that."
Maybe he danced, danced the pounds away. Personally, I think just saying Fall Out Boy's prolonged song titles aloud is a strenuous workout.
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RICK ROSS We all recognize some "body types" are prone to collecting and hoarding excess weight. Metabolism, genetics, whatever, some people just have a build that more readily builds on itself. It's not an excuse for not losing weight, but don't be delusional about it, either, folks.
That was Rick Ross's message in a 2010 Rap Basement interview.
"I always had thick skin growing up. I was always the fat black dude with the cheap shoes on," he said. "I always had thick skin when it came to jokes or whatever."
I've made it this far without using the "F" word, but to heck with it -- few artists own being fat like Rick Ross. Here are three of his own lyrics on his weight:
- "Ever seen a fat boy in a big body? / Know you wanna sit by me, all you do is think 'bout it"
- "I'm not a slim thug, I'm a fat mack / I don't give a fuck, I'll push ya hat back"
- "Pull up in the sleigh, hop out like I'm Santa Claus"
MEAT LOAF Meat Loaf, nee Marvin Lee Aday, is no Rick Ross. He too was an overweight youth -- more than 300 pounds, he's said, and the stigma of it all stuck with him into adulthood.
Compounding his agony, he claims a childhood radio ad featured a character named Marvin and that a tag line to the ad was "Poor fat Marvin can't wear Levi's." Which seems outrageous today, but maybe wouldn't have been so unheard-of in the 1950s, when he claims the ad aired.
According to The Guardian's interviews with Meat Loaf in 2003, as soon as he had some success in music, he legally changed his name to Michael.
"Being too fat to play with the other children, I had to spend a lot of time alone, which probably has a lot to do with the way I am today," he said in his autobiography.
ADELE Her words may be inspirational -- particularly to the lovelorn -- but Adele has no good advice for you about losing weight.
Her take is refreshing, though, because she nails it down as a personal choice. Her opinion on the whole matter seems to be if you want to lose weight and it's important enough to you, you'll make it happen. If you don't, you won't. And always know that how you feel about it all today may not be how you feel about it tomorrow. So long as there's a tomorrow, there's a chance to make something new happen.
"My life is full of drama, and I won't have time to worry about something as petty as what I look like. I don't like going to the gym," she told Rolling Stone two years ago. "I like eating fine foods and drinking nice wine. Even if I had a really good figure, I don't think I'd get my tits and ass out for no one.
"I love seeing Lady Gaga's boobs and bum. I love seeing Katy Perry's boobs and bum. Love it. But that's not what my music is about. I don't make music for eyes, I make music for ears."
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