Sam Smith Opens Up About Overcoming Body Dysmorphia: “I Feel Liberated”
Sam Smith has been on quite the journey. Alongside their music career, the singer has been on a quest of self-discovery, leading them to feel happier and more fulfilled than ever before. Since coming out as nonbinary in 2019 and announcing their change of pronouns, the “Unholy” singer has overcome body dysmorphia and finally feels comfortable in their skin.
“My mum says that, as I’ve got older, I’ve stopped caring what people think as much. She tends to be right,” they told The Sunday Times in a Jan. 22 interview. Smith has come such a long way. Where once, they would struggle to take their top off at the swimming pool and dealt with body-image issues in school, they now appear topless on the cover of their latest album, “Gloria,” and star in the video of their new track “I’m Not Here to Make Friends” wearing a corset, bejeweled pants, and nipple pasties.
“Within my industry there is definitely that question of, ‘What should a pop star look like?” they said. “When I was 25 I came off tour exhausted. I looked to role models in the body world. Every time I went to the pool I felt self-conscious, but I forced myself to take my top off. It paid off because I now have the opposite of body dysmorphia. I look fabulous. I’m finally getting a tan. I’m burnt in places I’ve never been burnt.”
According to the National Health Service of England, body dysmorphia is “a mental health condition where a person spends a lot of time worrying about flaws in their appearance. These flaws are often unnoticeable to others.” Therapy, support groups, or antidepressants are often suggested to help those with the condition.
“It paid off because I now have the opposite of body dysmorphia. I look fabulous.”
Smith has previously spoken of their image struggles, telling The Times in 2020: “For me, what triggered everything was the work I was doing with my body issues. I always had body dysmorphia. As I started to address that, I started to address my gender and realized that I was holding myself to these ideals of how a man should look.” Smith sought therapy and credits it with making them realize there were many layers to their feelings. “I have girl thighs and I have girl breasts too. It started to awaken this conversation that had always been in the back of my mind.”
While Smith has learned to love their body, they are still faced with cruel comments from others online. Most recently, they wore a fabulous sequined Valentino jumpsuit to the Capital Jingle Bell Ball in December 2022, a similar getup to Harry Styles’s onstage looks. Yet while Styles was met with praise, Smith was met with abusive body-shaming comments. “All I can say is that I looked fabulous,” they said, laughing.
With the 2023 Brits on the horizon, Smith added their disappointment at the lack of inclusion at the award show. After campaigning for gender-neutral categories, the Brits changed its awards in 2022, but it has faced criticism this year for failing to nominate a single woman in the artist of the year category. “It is a shame,” Smith agreed in the most recent interview with The Sunday Times. “Things are moving forward, but it’s obvious it’s not there yet. From seeing that [best artist] list, there is still a long way to go.”
As Smith prepares to perform at the Brits and the Grammys this month, it’s clear they feel more authentic, confident, and powerful in their body. “Writing sad songs used to be easy, while leaning into joy was tough. I’m happier in my own skin on Gloria. I feel liberated, released from pressures I felt when I was young,” the 30-year-old explained. Yet they are keen to point out that self-discovery never stops. “I get closer to who I am with each album,” the singer said. “But I never want to get there.” For our sake, we hope there are many more Smith eras to come.