Gay 25-year-old British crooner Sam Smith recently spoke with Sarah Jessica Parker about coming into his own sexuality and dealing with his body image issues in a personal interview for V magazine. The Sam Smith body image discussion is especially important considering the high rate of eating disorders and body dysmorphia among the LGBTQ community.
Sam Smith is about to release an album entitled The Thrill of It All, a follow-up to his 2014 album, In the Lonely Hour. In his interview with Parker, Smith admits that his new album is much different from his first because since his first album he has “became a gay man properly.” He says:
When I wrote that first album, I was in love with a straight man, he didn’t love me back, and I was very comfortable in my longing. With this record, I became a gay man. I started having proper relationships with men. Sometimes they were in the wrong and treated me in a bad way, and sometimes I was in the wrong. Being gay also falls into politics and what’s happening in the world right now.
It’s an especially interesting development considering that when Smith first rose to prominence around 2014, he said, “I’m not trying to be a spokesperson” for the gay community. He was lambasted for the comment and even accused of trying to straight-wash his music.
Sam Smith later clarified:
What I was trying to say was that I didn’t want the album to appeal to just one community, I wanted it to appeal to all of them. I wanted anyone, gay or straight, to be able to relate to me singing about men, like I was able to relate to Stevie Wonder or John Legend singing about girls.
Changing his tune, he said, “I sell records in countries where gay men get killed, and that’s a big thing for me, because maybe one person in that country will pick up my album, realize it’s by a gay artist, and it might change their opinion.”
Continuing his conversation with Parker, he says, “I’m just figuring out what it means to be gay. When I made that first album, I was 19. I had never been in a relationship. I didn’t have any gay friends. Now I have gay friends, and it’s changed my life.”
He adds, “I don’t have a lot to go by as a gay man in music: Even the George Michaels and Elton Johns weren’t out at the beginning of their careers.”
Smith says that he wasn’t aware that fame would make so many people begin to pay attention to his every word. He was also shocked at how unforgiving media coverage can be.
The conversation later turned to the topic of Sam Smith body image issues.
The Sam Smith body image issues have been affected by his fame
Back to the Parker interview, she asked him, “How comfortable are you feeling on camera today versus two years ago?” He then explained his body image issues in his reply:
It’s completely different. I think that’s come with me losing weight. When I was shooting my first music videos, I just wasn’t happy with the way I looked, so I was trying to control the way the camera moved. I got a bit obsessive. I was constantly looking in the mirror, pinching my waist, weighing myself every day. Now, I’ve gotten to a place where I really love my stretch marks and I just enjoy my body. My job is very self-indulgent: I have to listen to my voice daily, I make decisions on what tour posters or album covers look like, I look at my face while sitting in the makeup chair. I get kind of sick of myself, so I trust my team. But my body image is always going to be an issue. I need to constantly train myself to watch the right sort of films, to not look at certain ads and think that’s how my stomach should look. It’s something that I’m fighting every day. I think men should talk about it more.
Smith has been seen in public kissing 23-year-old 13 Reasons Why star Brandon Flynn. In October 2017, he also said, “I feel just as much woman as I am man,” a comment which at least one drag queen saw as distracting from the trans community who really experience challenges when it comes to their perceived gender.
In 2016, Smith’s theme song for the James Bond film Spectre competed against Lady Gaga’s showtune-ish ballad from campus rape documentary The Hunting Ground and trans musician Antony Hegarty’s collaboration “Manta Ray” from the endangered species documentary Racing Extinction.
Featured image by Ruven Afanador