Pound by pound.
This is not the title of Kelly Clarkson’s new album, but it might as well be for all the attention she has received due to her weight, rather than her album sales. Piece by Piece debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, but as far as pop culture is concerned, she has become the Kim Kardashian thread of famous: allowed on the red carpet only because the public still gives a gasp of recognition when she appears on it.
“Heartbeat Song” may not be my crank-the-volume, windows-down-in-the-car anthem, but I pause when confronted with Clarkson on a glossed magazine next to quotes like, “We are who we are. Whatever size.” While her composure is impressive, her continual placement in this context puzzles me: I know her only in the spheres of the radio and American Idol.
Clarkson, however, couldn’t be less surprised. While on Ellen, she revealed that she has been the victim of so-called body-shaming for 13 years, since her Idol days.
And she isn’t the only one. Meghan Trainor’s sugared pop beat “All About that Bass,” intended to lift morale for women everywhere, has emerged as a result. According to Trainor, her “momma…told (her), ‘don’t worry about your size’”–yet the perfect self-confidence can only go so far.
Too often we ignore the barbed tongues that have inflicted the injuries that require such a confidence. The original American Idol‘s career has been deemed over because she no longer wears strapless dresses, and her cheeks are apples when she smiles.
Clarkson had a daughter, River Rose, a year ago: the tabloids ran assorted spreads of pearl smiles and onesies to rake in Benjamins, then turned on their star when she failed to shed baby weight with a snap of their fingers.
While Clarkson prioritized her happiness over a size two dress, People reported that “British personality Katie Hopkin” had unleashed teethed tweets, attributing Clarkson’s weight gain to “eat(ing) all her backing singers” or “carrot cake weight.”
Hopkin, undoubtedly searching for greater fame than reality TV shows can incite, did not faze Clarkson. But as celebrities continue to have babies, they continue to be attacked for the side effects of being human. Kate Middleton adorned the covers of every tabloid in existence with the birth of her daughter Princess Charlotte, leaving us to wonder how long she will have with the newborn before she, too, succumbs to the hate-fire.
Maybe she never will–the royal has somehow retained the slim waist that People prizes. But Clarkson is not as lucky. She is here; she is a target–never mind that we should spend less time body-shaming and more time being ashamed of ourselves.
Clarkson isn’t faking happiness. My mother and I watched her when she reappeared as a mentor on Idol with an undercut and a fishtail braid, her smile never-ending. She radiated youth as much as if her infant daughter had injected her with it. She is the opposite of fame’s victims: waif-thin, ashen druggies that shoplift and wreck their Maseratis. Clarkson is happy.
That should be enough for People.