Big girls don't cry
Kelly Clarkson's fat-shaming saga and Meghan Trainor's body-confidence anthem show why full-figured women of pop deserve their place in the spotlight
In February, Kelly Clarkson released her seventh studio album, Piece By Piece, which debuted at No. 1 on the US Billboard 200 chart.
You would think this would be cause to celebrate.
But media attention turned from the 32-year-old US singer's talent to her weight.
Clarkson, who gave birth to daughter River Rose last June, has become curvier since her American Idol days in 2002 when she was crowned the inaugural season's winner.
British journalist Katie Hopkins, who watched Clarkson on The Graham Norton Show, posted on Twitter last month: "What happened to Kelly Clarkson? Did she eat all of her backing singers? Happily I have wide-screen."
Instead of apologising for the mean tweet, Hopkins appeared on Access Hollywood to stand by her comments.
When the show's hosts suggested she was a bully, Hopkins insisted otherwise.
"There is no such thing as fat-shaming. There is only skinny-blaming," the 40-year-old said.
"Ultimately, Kelly Clarkson is a chunky monkey."
Fox News presenter Chris Wallace also mocked her size this month.
He said of Clarkson in an interview: "She could stay off the deep-dish pizza for a while."
Wallace later apologised for his comment, saying: "I admire her remarkable talent and that should have been the focus of my discussion about her."
Hopkins has expressed the view that celebrities need to be open to criticism since it is part and parcel of being in the public eye.
But where do we draw the line?
Happily, it seems that Clarkson is not letting the cruel jibes get to her, judging by her response to a question about whether she was hurt by Hopkins' comments.
"That's because she doesn't know me. I'm awesome! It doesn't bother me," the Grammy winner told Heat magazine.
"I've just never cared what people think. It's more if I'm happy and I'm confident and feeling good, that's always been my thing. And more so now, since having a family. I don't seek out any other acceptance."
Her gracious response to such snarky criticism is just a reminder of why she is one of the nicest women in pop: She's comfortable in her own skin and does not feel the need to engage in verbal sparring with other public figures.
Clarkson seems to be living by the words of her most successful hit Stronger: "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."
She told Redbook magazine: "I wish I had a better metabolism. But someone else probably wishes they could walk into a room and make friends with everyone like I can. You always want what someone else has.
"I don't obsess about my weight, which is probably one of the reasons why other people have such a problem with it."
Once, heavyweight divas like Aretha Franklin and Ella Fitzgerald were a common sight.
Now, amid the lithe, skinny bodies we see writhing around in music videos, bigger-boned female singers are fast becoming an endangered species.
Just ask Meghan Trainor, the rising Nantucket-born US singer who oozes self-esteem and celebrates her curves in her catchy bubblegum pop smash hit All About That Bass.
"Yeah, it's pretty clear I ain't no size 2/But I can shake it, shake it like I'm supposed to," sasses the 21-year-old, who will perform her first gig in Singapore tomorrow .
All About That Bass, with its empowering message of body confidence, became last year's viral hit, topping the Billboard and UK charts and going platinum six times in Canada.
Not bad for a girl who once worried that she would never make it as a pop star because she didn't "look like Rihanna".
"Just recently, I was thinking: 'I'm confident now and I look good, and that's because I've started saying those words out loud more,'" she told Seventeen magazine.
Her fans have also inspired her to get rid of her insecurities.
"I'm glad a lot of the comments I've got are about eating disorders and how my song saved them which is crazy, but amazing," Trainor told Entertainment Tonight.
She joins a new generation of pop singers who are increasingly rejecting the "skinny girl" mould, like Adele and Lily Allen.
One of my favourite songs of last year was Allen's own anti-fat-shaming anthem Hard Out Here, detailing how difficult it is for women in the music industry.
Its scathingly sarcastic lyrics include lines like, "You should probably lose some weight 'cause we can't see your bones/You should probably fix your face or you'll end up on your own."
Whether it is Clarkson's good-natured confidence, Trainor's bubbly demeanour or Allen's biting wit, it turns out that there are many ways to deal with the bullies who think it's cool to pick on people larger than them.
WHAT: MEGHAN TRAINOR - THAT BASS TOUR
WHERE: The Coliseum, Hard Rock Hotel Singapore, Resorts World Sentosa
WHEN: Tomorrow, 7.30pm
TICKETS: $128 and $188 from Sistic (sistic.com.sg or 6348-5555)