Over the last year or so, popular actress and recording artist Selena Gomez has undergone an image makeover. At age 19, she’s one of the latest Hollywood starlets to take the well-trod, almost obligatory path from sweet, innocent teen entertainer to sexy, tabloid-cover celebrity.
But last year, in the midst of this eyebrow-raising transformation, she released a hit single, “Who Says.” The song and accompanying video speak positively and powerfully about beauty. Ironically, the lyrics and visuals contradict the unhealthy messages sent by her recent revealing fashion choices.
As for the song itself, I first came across “Who Says” while contemplating ways to foster a healthy body image in my daughters, ages 5 and 2. I figured they’re too young to understand the whole song, but I could use it to plant seeds that might bear fruit later. It quickly became their most-requested song!
Some of the more poignant lyrics come at the beginning:
You made me insecure
Told me I wasn’t good enough
But who are you to judge
When you’re a diamond in the rough
I’m sure you got some things
You’d like to change about yourself
But when it comes to me
I wouldn’t want to be anybody else
Then, after a zillion “na-nas”:
I’m no beauty queen
I’m just beautiful me
Who says – who says you’re not perfect?
Who says you’re not worth it?
Who says you’re the only one that’s hurting?
Trust me, that’s the price of beauty
Who says you’re not pretty?
Who says you’re not beautiful – who says?
Of course, the expected answer is that no one has the right to declare “you” less than beautiful. The song thus celebrates the inherent beauty of every girl, echoing Psalm 139.
My girls also enjoy the video. Throughout, Miss Gomez modestly sheds parts of her wardrobe. First go her high heels; next, her large, blingy earrings. She ditches her fancy black dress for a tank top and shorts. Finally, she carefully wipes off her makeup before joining her friends on the beach. In between these images, the words “Don’t judge a book by its cover” and “True beauty lies beneath the surface” appear onscreen, almost subliminally.
After watching the video with my daughters, I explain to them that they’re always beautiful, no matter how fancy they dress. I don’t want them to think certain clothes turn them into pretty girls. Instead, I want them to know that they’re beautiful because their Abba in Heaven has made them that way, and no one has the right to declare otherwise.
Selena Gomez has given us a helpful teaching tool. “Who Says” affirms that you don’t need fashionable clothes or makeup to be beautiful; real beauty is deeper and more intrinsic. The song helps me, a Christian parent, to remind my girls that God has simply made them beautiful.
It saddens me that Miss Gomez’s newer, sexualized persona may undo much of the good that this song has done for girls worldwide. I’ll try my best to keep that from happening in my home.
Watch the video here and share your own thoughts below.