Three cheers for Meghan’s fight against the photoshoppers

It seems like the tide might be finally turning with a new generation of female celebrities who say no to being manipulated by the music industry.

I was delighted to hear in today’s news that the Grammy Award winning singer Meghan Trainor had ordered video companies to pull her latest video ‘Me Too’ down for an urgent re-edit after realising it had been photo-shopped.

American pop star Meghan – who is still only 22 – famously celebrated accepting your body size in her debut hit ‘All About That Bass’ a couple of years ago.

In the lyrics of the song, she talked about loving your body shape and spoke out against photoshopping, where images are digitally manipulated either in a photograph or video to make someone look different or enhance their looks for effect. The techniques are routinely used to make women look thinner or to iron out what might be seen as imperfections such as wrinkles, spots, freckles and moles.

The seemingly ‘perfect’ images that result have often been linked with young women’s drive to search for what they perceive to be the perfect look and size. I believe that such images have played a role in some young women’s descent into eating disorders.

Meghan became an instant star with her debut single and successful first album and was happy to be associated with young women accepting who they were and their body shape.

She was allegedly furious when she saw her new video had been doctored ahead of its release by making her waist look slimmer to give her a more slender silhouette.  Despite her relatively tender age, she took to social media to rant about what had happened and behind the scenes successfully ordered that the video be taken down.
In a series of Snapchat posts she said: ‘My waist is not that teeny, I had a ‘bomb’ waist that night. I don’t know why they didn’t like my waist.

‘I didn’t approve that video and it went out to the world so I’m embarrassed. I’m so sick of it, I’m over it. So I took it down until they fix it.’

Meghan’s refreshing attitude certainly heartens me as an educator and a parent in a time when young women and young girls have been bombarded with images of so-called perfection 24 hours a day in today’s media age.

It is all in stark contrast to the behaviour of so many young female stars over the past couple of decades who have- whether willingly or otherwise – allowed the music industry to exploit their sexuality to sell records.

A couple of years ago, I spoke out about what I believed was the awful example of stars like Miley Cyrus who particularly confused young girls with her dramatic change of image from the wholesome Hannah Montana Disney character she was so associated with to her new highly sexualised persona.

Our own home-grown Charlotte Church also bravely spoke out about the pressures on young female stars by the music industry just a few years ago, accusing it of having a ‘culture of demeaning women’ that forces stars to sell themselves as sex objects.  Church said she was ‘pressurised’ into wearing revealing outfits in videos by male executives when she was 19 or 20.
The star said young female artists were routinely ‘coerced into sexually demonstrative behaviour in order to hold on to their careers’.

This makes it all the more admirable that a young star like Meghan Trainor is prepared to fly in the face of that pressure to stand up for herself – and by doing so to stand up for all the legions of young women who look up to her – by standing up and being counted.

I hope it heralds in a new era of change when the young women we have been educating and bringing up feel they can say ‘no’ to the pressures which have been besetting them and do beset them. Let us hope the dinosaur music industry bosses who have bullied women into using their sexuality slink back into extinction – we can but hope.


Jo Heywood, Headmistress, Heathfield School, Ascot

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