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Meghan Trainor rediscovers her self-love as a new mom

Meghan Trainor, performing at  LA Pride on June 8, 2019 in West Hollywood.
Matt Winkelmeyer
/
Getty Images
Meghan Trainor, performing at LA Pride on June 8, 2019 in West Hollywood.

The pop star first drew attention with the 2014 hit "All About That Bass" — and now she's returning with a new full-length album hearkening back to that era, called Takin' It Back. Trainor spoke with Morning Edition co-host Leila Fadel about the process of self-acceptance and how becoming a mom made her feel (at least a little bit) more invincible.


The following has been edited and condensed. To hear the broadcast version of this conversation, use the audio player at the top of this page.

Leila Fadel, Morning Edition: So, let's start with the name of the album – Takin' It Back. You know, when I first was listening, I was like, "Okay, this is the Meghan Trainor I know and love." When I first heard "All About That Bass," it made me think of female empowerment and of feeling good about yourself despite the insecurity. So is that what it is, taking it back?

Meghan Trainor: Basically what you said – all the comments I've seen recently are like, "Oh yes, this is our Meghan Trainor from 2014. We love her and miss her." So I'm just trying to take it back to that time, but an elevated version, where I'm a mother now and I've been trying to take back my confidence and power since having a baby ... Everything's much more important and also scarier ... but I feel like I've accomplished so much with just this baby, that I'm like, "Oh, nothing can stop me like, I can make a baby, I could to have a C-section and survive." And then because that was so hard, I was like, "Next challenge" — and I lost, the healthy way, 60 pounds.

Wow.

"And I was like, I'm on fire now." And then I wrote this album.

You've been really public about how hard it was, right after having a baby, to feel good about yourself again.

Yeah, because ... my genes, we get stretch marks really easily. I already was struggling to love my body before all this, and then I got lots of stretch marks and that was tough for me. And then the C-section scar that slices through them, you know, that was tough. And I've never had surgery before – not like that. I've never had stitches ... so getting over all that was super tough for me. But with a great therapist and a great family support team, they helped me out.

But also, feeling sexy was a big struggle. Like, I couldn't. I didn't really want to have sex during pregnancy because I didn't feel good, you know? And then even after, I was like, "Oh, buddy, this ain't going to happen." But my husband's a gem ... he was like, "You're beautiful, you're perfect. This is where my baby came from" ... and I'm like, "Yeah, I can't look at them though," you know?

On this album you have the song "Made You Look." Was that part of working through it, having this song about still making people look?

My therapist said, when I was working through all the scar work and the body love, she was like, "I want you to stand in the mirror naked for 5 minutes every day." And the first day I was shaking and staring at the clock, like, am I done? And by the third day, I was like, "Well, you know what? I got nice legs." I could slowly see myself liking myself more ... [and] I was trying to write that in a song, like, I don't [need] all these fancy clothes. I can wear a hoodie and my husband still thinks I'm hot and I could be naked and he thinks I'm hot and I'm like, "I still made you look."

What I like about it is it's not really about a woman who is perfect, right?

Yeah, I felt weird. I was being interviewed a lot about "you had a baby, everything's perfect. You're writing music and you're so confident, you love your body. How do you do it all?" And I was like, "Oh, you've misunderstood." I feel like a hypocrite, I'm none of those things. I'm a badass and I'm accomplishing a lot, but sometimes I just want to cry in a hole and I want someone to take care of me. And so that's what "Superwoman" was about ... I didn't want people to think everything's perfect, you know?

You've really settled into being a wife, a mom and a superstar all at the same time. But you have that viral hit, "Dear Future Husband." I wonder, when you think about your husband now, was that the person you were describing in that song?

He's way better than what I was describing. He opens every door and he gives me foot rubs almost every night. He loves me. He knows how hard I'm working. He takes care of our kid while I'm at work all day ... I always feel like someone's taking care of me and someone's looking out for me. And as my partner in this life, we're just trying to make each other level up, like, in any, every category. Like, we went to the gym together this morning, and we're so cute doing our little crazy lunges, like we look like we were doing choreography, but he's my partner, and it's like, it's really awesome to have someone like, "Hey."

"While You're Young" – to me that song felt like advice to a younger version of yourself.

I've been looking at pictures of me as a teenager and like, oh, boy, you know, I'm like, "this sweet girl. I want to hug her." So I wanted to write a song about it. I'm like, Girl, I know it's been tough, but I promise you all your dreams are going to come true ... like, she would never believe that I would become a pop star ... she didn't believe that at all.

You didn't see your future as a pop star?

I have to pinch myself every day and be like, "When is this dream going to end?" ... It's almost been 10 years and I'm like, I'm invited to the Today show. Like, are you sure?

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.
Ziad Buchh
Reena Advani is an editor for NPR's Morning Edition and NPR's news podcast Up First.