“Beneath your beautiful” is the song that introduced me to the talent of Labrinth, via my obsession with Emeli Sande. Both artists have exceptional talent for putting in sweet melody all the feelings one gets with love, whether it is falling in love or nursing a heartbreak. When you fall in love, it is often easy to see only the best attributes in the person, you’re likely to really just be in love with the fairytale persona of the person. In this song, there is a willingness to go beyond the perfect, beyond the beautiful, to unveil each other’s vulnerability.
I have a friend tells me this song who explained to be me that in her journey of self love, perhaps one of the most significant changes in her was to finally understand that she didn’t owe her time or body to anybody. She didn’t have to indulge every guy’s request for her attention, and the world wouldn’t crumble if she said no. Developing self-love and compassion for yourself means slowly and painfully undoing years of damaging conditioning that said you could get a man to love you by doing whatever he wanted including agreeing to sex when she wasn’t ready. It was that damaging conditioning that convinced her she could keep a man if she just molded herself into the girl of his dreams. It that made all her past relationships draining because she spent too much energy putting up a façade of the model girlfriend because she was afraid that just being herself wasn’t enough.
It is also significant for me that this song is a duet, because I am a strong advocate of making room for men to feel all their emotions (if they want to), in a society that continuously discourages them from displaying any weakness and also assumes that men never say no to intimacy. My favorite sentence in the song is “behind your broadway show, I heard a boy say please don’t hurt me”. I love it because it is an acknowledgement of a man’s vulnerability and the girl’s willingness to be careful and gentle with him. This isn’t to say all men are obliged to be vulnerable, because You should never have to do anything you don’t want to do. It is always a negotiation that is on your terms. Consent is beautiful. Consent is respectful. Consent is a privilege.
This song is an anthem for a healthier understanding of relationships, sexual or otherwhise. One in which you are respectful of each other’s bodies, each other’s vulnerability. One in which you are willing to explore each other but ever so carefully, ever so gently. One in which we both feel privileged to be in each other’s presence, to unmask each other, to undress each other, to be gentle with each other, to rescue each other, but most importantly, to do it all never without the consent of the other.
Your body is sacred. Your body is badass. Your body is worthy of love. Most importantly, your body is yours and you don’t owe anybody any part of yourself. You reserve the right to say yes or no, without apology.
Favorite part of the song : “I’m gonna climb atop your ivory tower. I’ll hold your hand and we’ll jump right out. We’ll be falling, falling, and that’s ok. Cuz I’ll be right here. I just wanna know, would you let me see beneath your beautiful?”
Isabelle Masado writes about body compassion on her blog "The Dear Body Project". She knows all too well that the personal is the political, is the community. As such, there is no discussing body compassion without talking about the assault on black bodies, trans women, and people with disabilities. Her mantra is, "How can I live in a way that makes room for you too"? She writes to examine, to heal, to redeem.