Miley Cyrus’ new single Flowers is one of the most popular songs in the UK at the moment. Writer Kate Orson asks if the strong message is as empowering as it initially seems.
Flowers by Miley Cyrus tells the story of an independent woman who doesn’t need a man because she can love herself and at first glance, it appears to be an empowering message. Miley sings about breaking up with her boyfriend and the upset caused by the heartbreak, until she comes to the realisation that she can do anything he did for her, for herself. Whether it be talking to herself, going dancing by herself, understanding and loving herself. She would enjoy all those things more without him.
At face value, it’s a message of liberation. We really don’t need a man to complete us, and perpetuating that narrative runs the risk that women will settle for someone who’s less than ideal. However, beneath the surface of her empowering lyrics, and raunchy video, I believe there’s a problem with the message.
The notion that we can do it all for ourselves, is a lonely, untrue one.
The notion that we can do it all for ourselves, is a lonely, untrue one. A friend of mine, and mother of teen girls, Christian Leia Girard drew my attention to the song, and compared it to Aretha Franklin’s I will Survive. Aretha sung of her strength to go it alone, but also pointed to the future when she would be ready to love and trust again. It’s a romantic song that highlights the truth that - yes, we can be empowered single women - but also the desire to find love outside of ourselves is what being human is all about.
From a Christian perspective, when God made Adam, he didn’t think it would be good for him to be alone, so he made Eve. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” In an ideal scenario the romantic notion of two becoming one and completing each other is biblical truth.
In this fallen world, not everyone gets to live their happily ever after, but that doesn’t mean that the key to happiness is being able to go it alone. In the book Lost Connections, journalist and author Johann Hari discusses the real cause of depression. He said it wasn’t actually due to a chemical imbalance in the brain, but a societal problem due to lost connections. He said: “Scientists found that being disconnected from the people around you had the same effect on your health as being obese—which was, until then, considered the biggest health crisis the developed world faced.”
The message Miley’s sending out might give girls a few moments of happy dancing, but in the long run lead them further from the truth, and from Jesus.
In a society where the isolation and stress of living through a pandemic caused an increase in mental health problems, the message Miley’s sending out to millions of young women might give them a few moments of happy dancing, but in the long run lead them further from the truth, and from Jesus.
Jesus is there to ease our loneliness: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3.20. Jesus encouraged us to meet each other to find him: “When two or more gather in my name, I will be there.” The message of the Bible is about finding connection to Jesus and community. It’s a message about loving our neighbour, and lifting up our brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s a message of timeless truth that a lie-saturated culture needs to hear. Romans 11.36 says: “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever.” Music was created to give God glory, when it’s used as a means to idolise the self we might want to sing a different song.