Courtney Govan’s “Before (Not After)” Is A Body Positivity Cultural Reset

From writing your own songs to cold-emailing promo from your personal laptop, being an independent artist – though it comes with absolute creative freedom – can still be a difficult thing. Using social media to spread the word about your work adds to that a world of its own, but it’s one that Courtney Govan has already taken over.

With over 470k followers on TikTok and over 50,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, the queer indie pop singer-songwriter and content creator uses both platforms to share music that is fully and truthfully herself. However, using social media often opens a door to another world – one made of unnecessary hate, criticism, bullying, and discrimination. After facing endless comments online that often only criticize her appearance and have nothing to do with her music, Courtney Govan decided to turn her pain into song.

Her brand new single, “before (not after)” is a melodic and empowering track that comes as both a societal dig and a love letter to herself. “I don’t know about you but I am ready for some fat body stories in pop music! I know it feels hard to exist in a world that has a problem with you accepting yourself, but I wrote ‘before (not after)’ so that we could block out all their noise,” says Govan about the new single in a press release.

“My entire life I have dealt with unsolicited comments about my body,” she continues. “Changing the way I look and losing weight has always been the thing I ‘had’ to do in order to be successful, healthy, and even happy. At the end of the day, I am the person living in this body. I love myself.”

Shutting down the very concept of “before and after” photos that often depict some kind of physical transformation, “before (not after)” is a song that not only inspires many of her fans to love themselves, but also critiques how society has set up these standards in the first place. “Hysterical to me the world I live in / Thinks I give a shit about their opinion / Sorry I can’t hear you cause I’m not really listening / Bad bitch energy,” the artist sings on the track’s second verse. Drawing from personal experience as a fat human on the internet, she wrote her new single solely on her own and produced the track with Pascal Pahl. With love ballad vibes and a pop-twist, “before (not after)” makes for one of the artist’s most truthful and real releases so far.

Courtney Govan is more than ready to be the world’s next pop star, but her new track also wonders if the world is ready for her. At a time where women are often judged for how they look over how they sound, at a time when artists as popular as Lizzo still face backlash over appearances, “before (not after)” proves just how important Govan is as an artist to the music world.

“Your body is perfect because it’s your body,” she constantly reminds herself and her fans. “I’m proud of myself and I want others who look like me or who struggle with their appearance to know that they don’t need anyone else’s validation in order to be all the things they want in life and more.”

When choosing to put out content of bodies only looking one type of “acceptable” way, society places unrealistic standards on people, and especially women, about how they are meant to look, when in reality they don’t owe anything to anyone but themselves. Through her music, her confidence, and her own simple yet significant existence, Govan is ready to dismantle these concepts and show that it doesn’t have to be “controversial topic for fat people to live comfortably in their own skin.” So much of society’s standards pressure us to constantly and actively try to improve ourselves to “perfection,” and many people have linked that to success and even happiness, creating a skewed and often damaging mental mindset.

To combat these beliefs, “before (not after)” highlights not only self-acceptance, but also the idea of the present moment. Not after, but right now. The song’s very concept signifies something even greater than societal acceptance, and rebrands that “before” person as who you are now. It symbolizes self-love. It explores the idea of loving who you are, as you are, right now. The idea of only living for a moment in your life that is your “after” is futuristic, dismissive, and unaccepting of your present self – and in the unwritten lines between her reflective lyrics, the songs suggests, “Forget after. Do you love yourself right now?”

Courtney Govan thinks you should.


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