I’d like to talk a little bit about Ed Sheeran. Or more so, I’d like to talk about his latest hit single. Ed is one of those guys I have genuinely enjoyed since he arrived on the scene. His songs are lyrically beautiful and aware and unique. But here’s what I have to say that may make some of your mouths hang agape. It may make some of you stick up your middle finger and turn away from this page forever. It also may make you leave some nasty comments. And actually, if you want to take action, I’m up for a debate. Let’s do it!
So here goes: I do not like ‘Shape of You’.
Because it’s perfectly fine for a man to love the way a woman looks. It’s nice, actually, to hear those words every so often. But I never want that to be the sole thing that someone has to say about me or any other woman. And in this song, that is the entire chorus. “I’m in love with the shape of you…I’m in love with your body”. Not “I’m in love with you, I’m in love with your sense of humor, I’m in love with your quirks and your imperfections…”. Nope. I’m in love with your body.
If anyone ever said those words to me with nothing else to back up their affections, I don’t think I could respect them or their intentions. And I don’t think I’m a prude, per se. It’s just….Gawd, don’t you have anything better up your sleeves? I think what makes it worse is knowing that he’s capable of better. If this was his brand, if this was what he stood for, then fine. I could write it off and move on. But this song from that creative mind?…it both disappoints and frustrates me.
Am I the only one?
I love the rest of Sheeran’s Divide. The man has a lot to say; a lot of opinions, a lot of reminiscences, a lot of thoughtful, heartfelt and heartbreaking stories. He’s got attitude, honesty and he’s rough around the edges. It’s just…I don’t like this one song that he (or someone in his camp, I’m genuinely curious as to who makes these decisions in his career) chose to make the lead single – the song that sets up the album and its tone. ‘Castle on the Hill’ came out at the same time, and I maybe heard it on the radio a couple times. But that song has so much more depth, so much more personality.
‘Shape’ just feels like something trying to make an impact and get to #1. It’s catchy, it’s fun, and it makes girls feel sexy when they hear it? If I’m being honest, it’s really not all that different from Luke Bryan singing about tight shorts on a tailgate. So maybe this means I’m getting old or prudish or something…but I’m just sick of hearing it. All of it.
Let’s interject for a deep moment.
I struggle with body image, and I know I’m not the only one. And when a song places sole value on the physical aspect of a woman, it makes those of us who aren’t “perfect” feel devalued. It makes us wonder what’s wrong with our bodies, what we need to do to “fix” them, and how we can be valued in the way that the media tells us we should be. Now for us adults, we can usually process through all of that. I mean, I see room for personal improvement, but I also know I’m going to get by in other ways. A young impressionable mind, though? They may not. And maybe they’ll grow out of it….or maybe they’ll spend their entire lives starving themselves, working out to the extreme and constantly feeling sub-par.
I know – it’s just a song, you say. But add that one song to the mix of Kardashians and insta-filter beauties and contouring how-to playlists on Youtube…and that ain’t cool. Yes, there are great female role models out there, young and old. But no one can deny the impact that each voice has on our society, and it’s hardly balanced in its current state.
So Ed, Mr. Sheeran, here is my plea:
Just please, please, please don’t do this again. When you choose your next single, make it fun, make it sexy, make it sentimental….but don’t demean us. And don’t make us feel unappreciated for not being that thing that makes you want to take us home. In fact, don’t just take us home. Wine us and dine us and get to know us…then we’ll see where it goes from there.