Being a mom to a preteen super into pop music comes with the (un)fortunate side effect of a great knowledge of top 40 radio. It's constantly playing in my car, and now that Lucy's big enough to ride in the front seat, she takes control of the airwaves. She knows how much I hate commercials and DJ drivel, so will change the channel every time a song is over. We laugh about how much the same goddamn songs get played on different channels OVER and OVER (read: Adele's Hello OMGILOVEYOUBUTENOUGHALREADY).
I'm an original fan of Justin Bieber, back when he was a young YouTube sensation with catchy tunes. Given the changes in the world surrounding body positivity over the past year, I was initially excited to hear he had a new very popular song out titled Love Yourself from his 2015 album PURPOSE. I was all ready to praise him and buy Alice the CD. Until I heard the lyrics.
It is a breakup anthem, a call out to a girl who treated him badly and used him for his fame and who knows what else. Much media speculation has been made on which pretty young starlet he's referring to, but none of that matters much to me. Perhaps the girl in the song was a shitty girlfriend and an unkind person, but more than likely they broke up because they are young and famous and just not right for each other. Perhaps it was distance or difference that drove them apart. Perhaps someone was mean or someone cheated, all things that can cause the end of romantic relationships. The lyrics state that his ex was disliked by his mother and his friends, insinuating she should've tried harder, been more likeable. Better (and worse) songs have been written about the brokenhearted and will be until the end of time, I'm quite certain. What bothers me most about this particular song is the title, and the chorus, which repeats a number of times:
'Cause if you like the way you look that much
Oh, baby, you should go and love yourself
And if you think that I'm still holdin' on to somethin'
You should go and love yourself
Self-love should be something all young girls aspire to, not something deemed a default by a slighted lover. Young men like Bieber should be searching for a strong confident girlfriend, someone who loves the way she looks. Her body and her mind should be something she savors and shares with those she trusts and who adore her exactly how she is. Self-love is not a character flaw, but an attribute. I hope the girl in this song did, in fact, go and love herself and found others that admire that quality and value that strength in her. Unfortunately, boys like Justin Bieber abound, and grow up to be men with the same sad notion as a threatening means of keeping women down. Perhaps we need to change the channel when we hear oppressive lyrics geared toward our young girls on the radio. Or perhaps we need to work harder to change minds. Let's teach our daughters be true to themselves, even if that makes them unpopular or pisses people off or makes them "unlikeable." Let's promote self-esteem and self-assuredness in our young girls.
Because I've said it before and I'll say it again: we can't truly love one another until we love ourselves.