The last few years have shown great strides in the body positivity movement, with the phrase on the lips of everyone from Oprah to Reese Witherspoon. Companies like Aerie, publications like Sports Illustrated, and television shows like America’s Next Top Model have all embraced the curve as well.
The music industry is no different, with fresh, exciting artists making their voices heard — and their iconic forebears getting their due as well. Take a look at this list of some amazing artists whose songs feature empowering messages of body love.
Recent best new artist Grammy winner Alessia Cara has been known for her body-positivity since 2015’s “Scars to Your Beautiful,” which decries the way the society negatively affects people’s sense of self-esteem. The hit encouraged listeners to remember they were enough just as they were. Other songs like “My Song” and “Wild Things” both bolster her positive energy, celebrating individuality in the face of hostility and finding a place for yourself in the world.
Sample lyric: “There’s a hope that’s waiting for you in the dark/ You should know you’re beautiful just the way you are.” (“Scars to Your Beautiful”)
Check out: “Scars to Your Beautiful,” “My Song,” “Wild Things”
Hailee Steinfeld had made a name for herself as an actor at a young age, then added pop music to her repertoire in 2015 after Pitch Perfect 2. Two of her most popular singles, “Love Myself” and “Most Girls,” espouse self-love and a strong sense of sisterhood, expressing pride in being a woman, knowing your own body and feeling good about it.
Sample lyric: “Most girls are smart and strong and beautiful/ Most girls, work hard, go far, we are unstoppable” (“Most Girls”)
Check out: “Love Myself,” “Most Girls”
As much as CupcakKe is known for her raunchy, boss-babe lyrics, she’s also endearingly self-reflective and body-positive, especially in songs like “Biggie Smalls,” where throughout the entire song, she urges not just herself but everyone to look past the airbrushing and be kind to their bodies and themselves. She even gets inspired by model Ashley Graham on the track, chooses Burger King over broccoli, and drinks soda like a hobby. It’s time to live your truth like CupcakKe.
Sample lyric: “Reaching for my food is the only time I stretch/ Can’t you see I love me and I’m feeling my best” (“Biggie Smalls”)
Check out: “Biggie Smalls,” “Self-Interview”
It’s impossible to talk about body positivity in music without talking about Lizzo, who has become one of the reigning queens of the topic. In the intro to her song “My Skin” on her 2015 album Big Grrrl Small World, for example, she discusses how learning to love one’s body is a challenge every person — specifically every woman — goes through, but wonders how we get from the “learning to love” to just loving? Lizzo asks people to join her on her journey to answer the question, making herself simultaneously vulnerable and approachable in the process.
Sample lyric: “The most beautiful thing that you ever seen/ Is even bigger than what we think it means/ Reflections in my bloodstreams” (“My Skin”)
Check out: “Good as Hell,” “Scuse Me,” “My Skin”
?Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass” became a body-positive anthem almost instantaneously when it came out in 2014. While it came under fire for its “skinny bitches” rejoinders, Trainor has since served up a number of songs that are more inclusive, from “Me Too” to “Woman Up” and others, urging all listeners to look in the mirror and take joy and pride in what they see with unapologetic bravado.
Sample lyric: “Roll your bumper and whine slow/ Show them you can shine, glow/ ‘Cause you got the light now” (“Woman Up”)
Check out: “All About That Bass,” “Me Too,” “Woman Up”
Rising singer-songwriter BAUM made waves last year with her song “Hot Water,” a song she has said is about understanding her queer sexuality for the first time. Her new single, “This Body,” tackles catcallers, reclaiming her body for her own and thereby encouraging others to do the same.
Sample Lyric: “I’m not your gumdrop, ‘cause I walk alone/ I got my tough, tough power and I call this body my home.” (“This Body”)
Check out: “Hot Water,” “This Body”
One of the jams of last summer, Miss Eaves’s “Thunder Thighs” is an ode to being thick in the thighs, owning it and loving it. Yes, there’s “chub rub” in the summer, she says, but so what? It’s time to take pride in being juicy. Other tracks on her 2017 album Feminasty celebrate self-pleasure, smiling when you want to not when someone random on the street tells you to, dismissing the fuckboys forever, and more.
Sample lyric: “Big Butt/ These pants are tight enough/ High cut/ Want ‘em to cover my gut/ Mom jeans all day why you mad tho?/ Mom jeans all day why you mad?” (“Thunder Thighs”)
Check out: “Thunder Thighs,” “Hump Day,” “Ms Emoji”
Indie pop/country artist Lissie’s 2013 hit “Shameless” should be a staple of the body-positivity movement. In an angsty, lo-fi tirade, she tears apart the systems that try to mess with her identity. In equally empowering songs from her forthcoming release Castles, out March 23, she’s also unafraid to voice her desires for love and success.
Sample lyric: “I stole your magazine/ The one with the beauty queen on the front/ I see her look at me, I swear that it is mockingly/ What the fuck?/ And you decide what I should like/ But I don’t buy no hype” (“Shameless”)
Check out: “Shameless,” “Blood & Muscle,” “Best Days”
Known for her dedication to what she calls urban feminism on her podcast Smart Girl Club, New York-based rapper Princess Nokia’s swaggering, defiant “Tomboy,” from her acclaimed album 1992 Deluxe, honors herself, her style and her body as it is. Other songs like “Brujas” and “Flava” exalt powerful women as well, and are definitely worthy additions to any empowering playlist. The “Flava” video features a stunning body-positive intro: “Who taught you how to hate yourself?” Nokia asks. “How did it get this far? Everything about you is magnificent, but you don’t even know it.”
Sample lyric: “With my little titties and my phat belly/ I could take your man if you finna let me/ It’s a guarantee that he won’t forget me/ My body little, my soul is heavy/ My little titties be bookin’ cities all around the world/ They be fucking wit’ me/ I’m a Calvin Klein model, come and get me” (“Tomboy”)
Check out: “Tomboy,” “Brujas,” “Flava”
Since departing her Disney roots, the pop singer has made herself a force to be reckoned with in sharing the truth about body positivity. Whether she’s on Instagram or in the studio, Lovato has been open about learning to love herself on both good days and bad. Her songs like “Confident” and “Sorry Not Sorry” inspire others to follow in her footsteps.
Sample lyric: “Now I’m out here looking like revenge/ Feelin’ like a ten, the best I ever been/ And yeah, I know how bad it must hurt/ To see me like this, but it gets worse” (“Sorry Not Sorry”)
Check Out: “Sorry Not Sorry,” “Confident”
Singer-songwriter and spoken-word artist Mary Lambert has consistently been praised for her uplifting work, some of which doesn’t just ask but implores people to love themselves and their bodies. In particular, her gripping duo of tracks “Body Love Part 1” and “Body Love Part 2,” from her 2013 album Welcome to the Age of My Body, combine her poetry with song, and the result is goosebump-inducing.
Sample lyric: “Our bodies deserve more than to be war-torn and collateral/ Offering this fuckdom as a pathetic means to say/ ‘I only know how to exist when I am wanted.’” (“Body Love Part 1”)
Check out: “Body Love Part 1,” “Body Love Part 2,” “Sum of Our Parts”
A darling of 2000s R&B, the four-time Grammy winner continues to bring her soulful voice to the genre. India.Arie has discussed her desire to make music for self-care and emotional wellbeing. She definitely does this on two of her signature tracks, “Video” and “I Am Not My Hair,” both essential listening for anyone hoping to love themselves from the inside out.
Sample lyric: “I’m not the average girl from your video/ And I ain’t built like a supermodel/ But I learned to love myself unconditionally/ Because I am a queen” (“Video”)
Check out: “Video,” “I Am Not My Hair,” “Private Party”
How could we talk about body positivity without mentioning Queen Bey? From “***Flawless” to “Pretty Hurts” and “Check On It” to her reflective 2014 video “Yours and Mine,” Beyoncé’s lyrics are regularly a source of affirmative body-positivity and self-esteem. By learning to love herself in the public eye she has also enabled millions to do the same; that is, to love her and to love themselves.
Sample lyric: “Just another stage/ Pageant the pain away/ This time I’m gonna take the crown/ Without falling down, down, down” (“Pretty Hurts”)
Check out: “***Flawless”, “Pretty Hurts,” “Check On It”
Missy Elliot paved the way for ferocious body positivity and self-love beginning with her first studio album, 1997’s Supa Dupa Fly, through 2002’s “Work It,” 2004’s “I’m Really Hot” and countless others. She purposely messed with typical portrayals of bodies, gender norms, and sexuality norms in her songs and videos, too. An undeniable force, her work remains classic to this day. We may not have many other performers on this list without her.
Sample lyric: “Go ‘head, let me feel myself/ Touch my chest, my sweat/ Show the DJ how I shake my breast/ Jiggle, Jiggle, Jangle/ Watch how my glu-te-us dangle/ I do a one-two step STOP!/ No, I ain’t done yet” (I’m Really Hot”)
Check out: “I’m Really Hot,” “Work It,” “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)”