Tara MacLean Shares Powerful Message About Loving Herself
Canadian singer-songwriter Tara MacLean is bravely sharing her story of decades spent trying to be someone she was not.
In a powerful message posted to Facebook, the 46-year-old mother of three – who has had success as a solo artist and as one-third of Shaye – revealed she was sexually assaulted at the age of six and again at 19.
“I guess it’s normal, to be touched, to be desired,” MacLean wrote of the first experience. Recalling the second, “One moment I was sipping a drink, the next moment I was waking up naked and alone in a trashed hotel room. But this is normal, to be desired. To be touched.”
MacLean remembered being 10 when her grandmother cautioned her about gaining more weight because “men don’t like that.”
She wrote: “At 13, I went on the pill. My body filled out and got chubby from excess estrogen. My breasts grew quickly. The boys noticed. They liked that.
“At 14, one well meaning boy said, ‘If you were 10 pounds lighter you’d be the prettiest girl in school.’ I thanked him.”
MacLean said she learned she could eat anything as long as she didn’t keep it down – until someone told her she was damaging her voice.
After being body-shamed in dance class, she felt that she needed to get a breast reduction. “I was left with bad scars. But at least they were gone,” she shared. “The boys were sad. They liked to be seen with the skinny girls, but they secretly wanted to make love to the soft ones.”
MacLean kicked off her music career at 23 and was constantly pressured to look a certain way. A size 6, she was told she could be more successful if she was smaller.
“I did photoshoots for magazines, stylist fittings, made music videos. The plan was always to find a flattering angle and clothing, so I would look slimmer,” she recalled. “A little airbrushing couldn’t hurt. The camera adds 10 pounds. Sorry grandmother. Sorry boy in school. Sorry photographer. I must apologize for my body.”
MacLean’s self-esteem took another hit following the birth of her first daughter. “The man didn’t like it. He didn’t understand. Not his fault. He’d never seen a post baby body before,” she wrote. "A well meaning friend said I should maybe lose the weight for my marriage. Men don’t like that. Grandmother, you were right. Her shadow standing behind me in every mirror.”
The image of MacLean’s grandmother finally faded from every mirror when she started taking yoga classes.
She wrote: “All I saw was beauty. It happened that fast. I wept. Could it be that I was seeing myself with the wrong eyes all this time? Looking in the wrong mirrors? Or was this an illusion now? Am I...could I be...beautiful? Perfect? Chosen?”
MacLean is determined that her daughters will grow up empowered and with vastly different images of themselves.
“They have never been touched without their consent. They have never once heard me complain about my beautiful body. They know they are perfect,” she wrote.
“I don’t work hard to be fit. I work soft. I walk through the forest, I dance in my kitchen most unlike a ballerina. I swim in the ocean. I practice yoga and meditation. I run, I jump, I climb. I sing. What a miracle it is to be embodied. The story still creeps in, tries to lie to me. I breathe. I choose.”
This healthy lifestyle is likely the reason MacLean doesn’t come across as bitter or angry.
“Grandmother meant well. Everyone meant well. But they were all brainwashed,” she explained. “I am now my fullness. I am now my reason. No more apologies. I am telling myself a new story. Actually, it’s my old story. My true story.”
MacLean vows to be a very different grandmother than her own.
“One day I will wrap my strong, soft arms gently around them and tell them they are perfect. That they are the universe expressing itself as form,” she wrote. “That they are miracles.
“And then I will die beautiful, like I have always been. The exquisite result of millions of years of evolution. I will die dancing.”
Read her full story here.
Listen to music from Tara MacLean & Shaye