The Reason Behind the Body Love Music Video

 

This blog post could also be appropriately titled:
I Just Ate A Chicken Patty By Itself While I Was Crying at YouTube Comments and It May Have Been A Little Bit Frozen: Tales from Lonely Los Angeles

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I was devastated the day I found out Truffula trees weren’t real. Life is hard.

I’m in L.A. again! I’m here working on my record with the best humans in the music industry. Best, meaning music-wise, and also people-y-wise.
I’ve had the pleasure to spend time with Eric Rosse, Benny Cassette, and Mozella while we’re working on my upcoming album. I love them. I love them and writing music with them has never been more fun or important.
I was so scared to co-write; for a long time I believed the only way I could write music was if I was on a manic binge without sleep, chain-smoking in the kitchen and crying into children’s books at 3am. Jokes on me! And on Dr. Seuss! You can be healthy and write music!
Good news, tortured artists of the world!

This album is making me think a lot about my motivations and what I want to put out into the world.
When I started the record I was like, cool, Mary. We have goals for this album! For my goals, I enter third person for absolutely no reason at all:

First things first- Buy all the stickers from all the craft stores so you can make cool christmas cards and send love letters with buttons on them that say, “you’re as cute as a button”. I recognize this is irrelevant. But it’s kind of relevant because you need to:

Once when I was 7, I told a fifth grader, “Check yourself before you wreck yourself, bone daddy.” You guys, I don’t even know where I came from.

1. Make money! Buy your mom a house! Start a charity! Tip brunch waitresses hundred dollar bills!
2. Stay true to yourself, boo-boo. That means don’t slack on your lyrics. Then you’re just being lazy.
3. Make sure you’re laughing! Music is fun!
4. Make something you want to hear on the radio so you can hear a DJ say, “Damn, that Mary Lambert, she’s even cooler than in third grade when she beat the older kids at tetherball.
5. Be 100% aware of your output on the world. Quasi-stardom is a tricky friend. It can make you think that your actions only matter when you want them to, that your lyrics don’t have gravity, or that your platform is a throwaway.

All actions, but especially actions made within the media and pop culture, have an inherent responsibility, no matter how seemingly miniscule.
The idea is that we are all in charge of our own output and our energy into the world.

High school was just like the OC. Except for the part where they were in high school and also the fact they were all adult actors

I just finished writing a song called ‘Chasing the Moon’ (as a poet, it is an unwritten rule to have at least one piece pay tribute to the moon) (I think) (I just made that up, but it sounds like a really cool life lesson to give new poets now), and the song is surrounding high school nostalgia. In my last year of high school, I was drinking and partying and had become an all around obnoxious delinquent. If I’m writing a song about my experience in high school, do I leave out the parts of the story that might offend other people? Am I unintentionally glorifying high school partying? Do I leave it out because I don’t want to condone underage drinking? But isn’t censorship, itself, offensive? Haven’t I fought tooth and nail to unflinchingly tell my story?

I came to terms with the new song we recorded. I have to believe that intention is as important as I think it is. I am attempting to catch a glimpse in time of my own life with this song. This song is my experience and I am relaying my story through art. It’s not a party song. It’s not a song about not drinking, either. It’s just a story.

Hella thanks to the Art Center College of Design for lending us hands, equipment, time, and love to make it happen!
Hella thanks to the Art Center College of Design for lending us hands, equipment, time, and love to make it happen!

The Body Love music video is also a story; it has multiple threads. I have so, so many thoughts on this piece of work and the reception it’s garnered the last week. I wrote Body Love when I was 19. At the time, I was self harming, felt worthless, and I was struggling to find any beauty in my reflection. All I could see was FAT GROSS UNLOVABLE written all over me. After I wrote the poem, I saw a ton of ways the video could go. To be completely honest, this is not the video I originally intended to make, and towards the end, I gave up my need for control and let go of trying to make it exactly what I wanted it to be, and let the amazing director and the crew do what they do best: Make this music video, with a vision and a specific artistic hand. Here, I’ve collected some of the thoughts I have had about the filming and some criticism I received as well.

1. The writing of this poem is my story. I can only write from my experience. I am a white, plus-size bi-polar lesbian that struggles with body issues and used to self harm. I don’t know what it’s like to be tall, or thin, to be a man, a person of color, or to be trans*. I do my best with acknowledging my privilege and the point of view I have. It’s the only one I’ve got.

2. I love this poem and it’s message. It’s one of my proudest moments as an artist. However, I don’t actually think this is my finest poetry. The subject changes too much, it’s metaphors are callous, and it doesn’t look great on the page, though it is a poem meant to be spoken. In the same way, I don’t think that ‘She Keeps Me Warm’ is my best song. I do know that Body Love is an important poem and SKMW is an important song and I get a ton of valuable feedback about their impact. Both LGBT* rights and self-worth are issues I care deeply about and affect me on a daily level. I can’t believe I get to sing every night about things that mean so much to me. But anyone who is a writer can understand the (hopeful) growth in craft and all the critiques that you give yourself retrospectively (“wish I would have said, can’t believe I rhymed ___ with ___, etc.).

In this metaphor, I'M THIS BABY. LOOK HOW CUTE THIS BABY IS. Is it creepy that I'm just grabbing photos of people's children from the internet?

In this metaphor, I’M THIS BABY. LOOK HOW CUTE THIS BABY IS. Also, on a creepy scale, how creepy is it that I’m just grabbing photos of people’s children from the internet and putting it on my queer ass blog?

3. I think it’s important to constantly challenge the marginalization of minorities. Whether it’s deliberate or not. It’s important to question privilege, motives, intention in the media, in pop culture, and in our daily lives. Dissection of art and pop culture is valued, but equally, so should celebration. It is an exciting time to be alive and to be an activist- the little victories deserve to be reveled in! When a baby is first walking, you don’t yell at her when she attempts and then falls; you cheer on her fearlessness, and encourage her to move forward with insight and advice. I welcome criticism to be a better artist and a better human. I’m hungry to grow! To spread positive light! To hug everyone all the time!

4. I use the metaphor of a mosque in the poem. The line is, “I know girls who are fleeing bombs from the mosques of their skin”. The intention of the metaphor is to paint our skin, our bodies as holy as a mosque, as a temple of worship. In 2006 and 2007, when I wrote this poem, there were a slew of mosques that had been bombed in the Middle East. I was emotionally shaken by these holy places completely demolished. At the same time thousands of miles away, friends of mine were shooting heroin, forcing themselves to throw up in the bathroom, and exhibiting severe destructive behavior. I use the parallel of war language in the poem throughout: “Our bodies deserve more than to be collateral”. In this specific metaphor, the bombs represent media pressures to be a certain kind of woman. As I see my poem now, I recognize that I am a woman that does not know the visceral impact that a bombing has. There might have been a better way to say what I intended, perhaps using the metaphor of a church, since my experience is that of a Christian. My sincerest apologies to anyone that was offended by this metaphor. I will try to be more conscious of my use of language and events in the future.

5. Jon Jon Augustavo directed this music video. He did an incredible job shooting intimate portraits of vulnerable human beings. This is a stunning piece and I’m so proud to call him a friend.

6. There were a ton of people involved in making this video happen. Their time, energy, and passion was so generous. The energy around the making of the video was electric. It was sacred and safe and involved a lot of crying for both the subjects and the crew.

7. We had an open casting call to any of my fans that wanted to take part in this project. The people who submitted photos and stories were a direct correlation to who we cast. This video is truly only successful because of the vulnerability of every single human that bared their soul and body. It was inspiring watching them from behind the camera. They were all so brave.

8. I wanted to include men (cis and trans), because everyone has body issues. Self harm and body image struggles are not exclusive to gender. Men also submitted to the casting call, which I was really impressed with, and it felt important to reflect that in the piece.

12. After we filmed, I became increasingly anxious. I realized afterward that we neglected to cast some demographics, and casted multiples of other demographics. Not on purpose, of course. We just had a certain amount of submissions of people who had incredible stories and backgrounds and chose to focus on them. In the video, there are no subjects with a physical disability, no trans women, no women over 50, no middle-aged men, no one who identifies as gender queer, and plenty of other demographics the video lacks. The omission of any demographic was not intentional. As a child who was always left out, I am obsessed with inclusivity. The lack of certain demographics weighed heavily on my mind post shoot, and I’ve had anxiety about the lack of certain bodies since then. I had to come to a place of peace. I didn’t want the casting call to be me yelling “we need one asian! we need an anorexic!” I see casting calls and I know that’s how hollywood does it, but I wanted this video to be different. To be inclusive organically. I wanted to hear people’s stories, not base casting solely on their demographic.

13. All of that being said, I really wish we would have searched harder to cast a trans woman in the video. That is my biggest regret of this experience. Especially with the poem being directed towards all women, written by me, a cis woman, it would have been such an incredible statement to have a trans woman play an active role. As someone that dated a two-spirit soul, gender identity is something I think about a lot.

You are great teachers, babes, but Mrs. Krabappel stole my heart a long time ago.

You are great teachers, babes, but Mrs. Krabappel stole my heart a long time ago.

I don’t intend this information to be likened to the sentiment of “I can’t be racist! I have a black friend!”– what I mean to convey here, is that trans* issues are really important to me and being in a relationship with someone that was constantly discriminated against for their gender identity affected me and changed my 19 year old doe-eyed view of the world. My heart hurts for any trans women that felt deliberately excluded. It was so far from my intention. I had a good cry about it today, and the only thing I could think to do is to offer an apology to the trans* community. I still have a lot to learn, and I am grateful for all of the teachers in my life, including my beautiful audience. I want to honor all of you. With my art, my media, my stories, and my existence- both publicly and privately.

I can’t wait to make another music video! I really can’t. There are so many things I want to accomplish and I’m learning the most effective, kindest way to do them all. I appreciate all of your love and positive light and kind criticism and even the militant criticism of the video. I am also going to try super hard to not read YouTube comments anymore. Cyber bullying is alive and well, y’all. I have so much to learn, and am really excited to have complete world domination. Did that sneak in there? Oh. Yes. Did I mention my world domination is rampant with kittens and little girls in sailor hats singing christmas carols and gluten-free baguettes? But also, inclusivity and safe spaces and locally grown food and free higher education and funding for the arts and a lot of glitter?

My posse is coming for you. And they are cute as fuck.

My posse is coming for you. And they are cute as fuck.

Welcome to the age of  SPACE KITTENS Y’ALL.

 xoxoxox

forever and ever,

M

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21 Responses to The Reason Behind the Body Love Music Video

  1. May says:

    There is something very special about your music, it’s not just about the lyrics and the subjects they talk about. I feel warmth and honesty in the core of your art. It’s very pure, even though I have the feeling while reading this poem, that I have yet to see the best from you. Like a blooming flower. Good luck, keep growing – a fan from Argentina.

  2. Pingback: Mary Lambert Goes Behind The Camera With ‘Body Love’ Video « NOW 100.5 FM

  3. Mary, you’re the kindest, silliest, most genuine artist I’ve ever had the pleasure of being a fan of. You are so wicked cool. I just want to hug you and be your friend! I adore you. And we’re only 2 days apart in age! LET’S BE FRIENDS!

  4. nicole s. says:

    Mary, you may “only” be a “quasi-star” for now, but you’re an icon. I am so impressed and stoked about the way you commit to being both an intersectional feminist and artist. These tough realizations that you’ve made about privilege and perspective are ones I struggle with too, and you’ve set a really great example for how to put those things in check and open yourself to learning and doing better next time. Body Love is so important to me for so many reasons, as I’m sure it is for everyone who encounters it as a piece of music, poetry, celebration, realization, etc. I am confident that we would have been best friends at any age. That holds so much value for me. I can’t wait to see what you do next.

  5. Amelia says:

    Mary, I wanted to thank you so much for making Bodylove, and I appreciate your being honest and upset about not having represented everyone, especially trans women. Over the past week after having seen the video I was alternately happy and confused about the representation in your video. This cleared that up absolutely, and I’m happy that I can finally love you again without qualms. You’re an inspiration, and I’m sorry if it seems like I was trying to put you down or anything but I really just wanted to thank you for being honest and actually caring about representation and trans women specifically.

  6. Jenn says:

    The Body Love music video was absolutely beautiful. You are so inspiring. I cannot even begin to say how much this song has impacted me and the way I have started to view myself since hearing it a few months ago has been incredible. Thank you so much for all you do. No music video can be inclusive of every single minority group, but Body Love definitely featured the widest variety that I’ve seen. It’s truly the thought that counts– that everyone, no matter the gender identity, can be at war with themselves. Can feel as though they will never live up to society’s standards of beauty. Thank you so much again for everything you do and will do. Much love. xxxxxx

  7. Pingback: Mary Lambert Released the Official Body Love Video!!! | The Lesbian Herald

  8. Sunniva says:

    The first time I heard body love I cried for an hour. It sits so deep with me

  9. Alisa Isaacs-Bailey says:

    Saw you at DePauw in itty bitty Greencastle. I keep thinking how amazing it is that this gift to YOU (writing as release, expression of your feelings, anxieties, etc, stream-of-consciousness therapy) is also a gift to so many others. Thanks for taking the huge risk that is putting yourself out there so the rest of us may share in the joy and pain.

  10. Michelle Gennari says:

    You are a marvelous example for us all! Keep doing what you are doing, love. That’s a powerful video – gave me the goosebumples! ;)

  11. That video was gorgeous. It was raw, real and inspiring. You are a wonderful person. You are constantly fighting for beauty to be recognized as something that is not just superficial but is also inherent – your point is magnified by the fact that you have both of those qualities. You are an amazing woman. You’re kind, thoughtful, quirky, inspirational, talented and you constantly fight for change. I fell in love with everything that you are and do when I saw your ‘She Keeps Me Warm’ video and I will continue to admire and support you for as long as I live (I know it sounds dramatic but I really do intend to. I’m not just being a drama queen. Promise!). If I ever get the chance to meet you, I hope to just hug you and let you know how incredible you are. Thank you for doing all that you do and making the world a better place.
    All my love, Jessica xoxo

  12. Shawna says:

    I saw you preform at Britt last year, when you opened for Teegan and Sara. I only just heard of you, as I saw you on an awards show with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. I wasn’t sure what to expect in your performance. I was blown away. It was probably one of the most moving performances I’ve ever seen. I’ve been to a lot of shows, but your songs really resonated with me. The world needs someone like you. You are a part of a movement helping to create and expand a place that feels safe.

  13. Ann says:

    So, I posted this on your YouTube video, but fuck it. I’ll post it here too. Because you’re a wonderful fucking human being. And you deserve to hear words (er… read words) that tell you that.
    Mary,
    Fucking… Thank you. You have no idea. I heard this song a year ago, maybe more. I had just been dumped by my first girlfriend. I got outed for her. I lost family and friends to be with her. And she left me.
    Before we had dated, I struggled for 17 years with an eating disorder that ravaged my life. By the age of 21 I had osteoporosis, a deficiency of multiple vitamins, tachycardia, my hair was falling out, and I had been hospitalized for electrolyte imbalances which should have resulted in heart attack. I lost my job and went to residential treatment. There, I was kicked out for a suicide attempt. I rejected their offer to send me to a psychiatric ward. I moved in with my parents and attempted recovery alone. I found her. I fell in love. I finally was accepting myself. It was shocking to me that as soon as I allowed myself to be who I was, a lesbian, my self hatred truly started to vanish.
    But, like I said, we broke up. And I immediately returned to the eating disorder but added on some ostentatious displays of inebriation that would make Dionysus blush. I heard your song for the first time as I was preparing to move to Boston. A 1200 mile road trip from a small town in Tennessee to Boston, a trip I had planned to make with my girlfriend that I now made alone. And on that trip I listened to Body Love, which was track 18 between Gaeta’s Lament from Battlestar Galactica and Boston by Augustana, was on repeat for the entirety of the New Jersey Turnpike. This song was everything I ever needed exactly when I needed it.
    I know I’m rambling and have told you entirely too much about myself. And I’m sorry for being awkward as fuck. But hell, you’re kinda weird too. Not that you’re ever going to read this. But oh well.. I just wanted to say thank you. 

  14. Reblogged this on serialnonconformist and commented:
    What an amazing lady!

  15. Mary, I owe you an apology.
    I owe you an apology because I feel that I own some of the responsibility for the absence of a trans woman in your wonderful video. I could have been there for you, and for myself, and for my community. I read your casting call, I live near the location of the shoot, and I was available that day.

    …but, I didn’t speak up.

    I was afraid the people making decisions would not see me representing Bodylove the way I see Bodylove representing me. I was afraid that I was not beautiful enough. I think people are starting to accept the most beautiful kinds of trans women as being okay for media… Women like Laverne Cox and Carmen Carrera. And, while I recognize that I am fortunate to enjoy passing privilege, I am not Ms. Cox or Ms. Carrera.

    So, I gritted my teeth for days. I agonized and overthought. …but, in the final analysis, I was not brave enough to present myself for scrutiny the way so many amazing people did. I felt badly about my failure to represent myself as a person worthy of participation. So, when the video was released the other day, and the images of these brave souls appeared on the screen, I knew this must have been the project I skipped out on.

    …and then, something even more profound happened. The image of a man with two surgical scars on his chest became part of the story. I sat up straight, and looked hard to be sure I was seeing what I thought I was seeing… and I believe that I was… I saw a person whose life had probably been something like mine (albeit, in the other direction.)

    Now, I have cried over Bodylove so many times, I can’t even tell you… But I have never cried as hard as I did that time. Here was this amazing person who was so brave that really only a small segment of the population can have any inkling of the sort of courage he must have been drawing on. I hope he reads this.

    But, Mary, I didn’t show up, and I deeply regret it. I’m very sorry. It’s so ironic to me that the lesson of Bodylove is the one that’s hardest for me to learn.

    If you ever need a trans woman to show up for you in the future, I will not make the same mistake twice!

    With much love,
    Lauren

    • nicole s. says:

      I am so thankful that I saw your comment here. Your experience, as a whole and the one you wrote about here in this comment, is important and beautiful. I hope you get to meet Mary one day and that you two hug each other so tightly!

  16. rainweaver76 says:

    I’ve heard this song now in all of its versions and watched each video that has followed. I -still- can’t get through it without crying. Don’t beat yourself up so much about not being able to include every kind of woman. If you’re going to try and do that then you’re going to have to write a much longer song! ;) I may not necessarily see a woman exactly like me but I don’t need to. What I see are women who are taking their strength back and they are fighting. And we are all fighting this together. Regardless of what labels we or society gives us.

  17. Beautiful, love. And if you do need some more Trans talent in the future, I know a few people, self included.

  18. Tanayle Haga says:

    Today has been a “I need Body Love” day for me, so the timing of this blog post is especially meaningful. Thank you.
    PS–I am the Seattle hook-up for gluten-free baguettes. Just sayin’. :)

  19. Pamela M. Thomas says:

    I LOVE you & ALL you that are~~~

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