Meghan Trainor on beating her secret body demons and planning her dream wedding

Not your conventional pin-thin pop star, she really was the girl next door – she had curves and she knew exactly how to work them.

And with her 2014 debut track All About That Bass (“I got that boom boom that all the boys chase, and all the right junk in all the right places”), which went to No.1 around the world, overnight she became the poster girl for body positivity.

But while she was singing about being proud of her booty and not wanting to be “no stick-figure silicone Barbie doll”, in reality it was a different story. Meghan was in fact deeply insecure about her looks.

“Was the poster girl an unwanted title? Yeah,” she says in her Massachusetts drawl. “I mean, I wrote this song as a pretend character and I put on a sassy voice and that was my song. It was honest because it was about me being a curvy girl, but I wasn’t into my curves.

“I saw the fans showing me love, but I never wanted to be a body icon. Do I want to talk about my body forever? Nope!”

Meghan, 24, was swept along with the adulation, hype and success, unaware that it would eventually lead to her crashing and burning.

The pressures of instant fame combined with her low self-esteem pushed her to the brink and brought on a panic disorder, which at one stage made her fearful that she’d never be able to perform again.

“I was taken on a rocket ship with All About That Bass, talking about my body in front of the world. I was like: ‘I’m real confident.’ But I was never 100% happy.

Part of me was miserable, thinking: "I look so fat in that picture, I don’t want to see this."

There was a point where I didn’t want to see my performances on TV because I was insecure about my voice and my looks.”

Everything came to a head last year when Meghan had to undergo surgery on her vocal chords for the second time, and faced an uncertain future. The enforced post-op vocal rest caused her to unravel.

“I think especially with overnight success and being famous, when I stopped working and had a break, my body and my brain were rattled. I couldn’t deal with it.

“It took me to the darkest place I’ve ever been. I couldn’t crawl out of it. I had moments where I was like: ‘Oh my god, I’m not even here right now and I can’t control it and it’s terrifying.’ And to hear a doctor tell you that it’s you – you’re doing this to yourself – I was like: ‘No way, man!’ I had all these heart things on me checking for allergies, but it was all me. It was all anxiety.”

She says she remained in that dark place for months. The doctor prescribed anti-anxiety medication, which she was reluctant to take at first.

“I’ve never been the kind of person who’s had to take medication. I was like: ‘Please don’t tell anyone I’m on these, please don’t tell my parents,’ [but] a doctor helped me out by saying: ‘You take your inhaler when you have asthma, right? So what’s wrong with taking medicine for your anxiety?’

“I had to get over that right away and be proud of myself and my family for helping me out and being so supportive. And finally, slowly I noticed a difference, and now it’s completely gone for the moment.”

The combination of medication, therapy (“I love my therapist!”) and time out has helped Meghan recover, and she can now manage any onset of anxiety.

She says she’s not surprised that mental health has become such a hot topic over the last few years, with a sharp rise in young people suffering from anxiety-related issues.

“Even if you’re not a pop star, you’re dealing with your [social media] posts and what everyone’s saying online about you. We are all basically famous on this stupid site, and it’s great for some things and it’s not great for a lot of things. Especially our kids – it’s making them rattled, it’s making them spiked up for no reason.

“I would hate to be at school now.”

Another significant player in Meghan’s recovery has been her Spy Kids actor partner of two years Daryl Sabara, the man she plans to marry after he proposed on her birthday last December.

“He’s been so sweet and patient with me. I told him when he saw me having [anxiety]: ‘Don’t say anything, just rub my back. Rub my back and say nothing!’ And now he knows how to calm me down.

“And now that I’m happy and I’m back he’s like: ‘I missed you so much!’ He stuck with me the whole time, and that made our love even stronger, and when we got engaged it was like everything was perfect. It’s crazy, like a movie.”

"The proposal certainly was straight out of Hollywood. Daryl pulled out all the stops and then some.

“He took me to Palm Springs and surprised me for my birthday, so right there and then I was like: ‘No one takes me on trips, no one gets me a hotel room, this is so nice.'

“Then he took me to a zoo, but I couldn’t tell where we were. It was all decorated in Christmas lights and it was beautiful, and then I saw a reindeer and I was like: ‘You killed it! This is the best birthday I’ve had in my whole life!’

“I was trying to Snapchat it and he was like: ‘Can you just put that down for a sec?’ and then he got down on one knee and proposed. I don’t even know what he said, I kind of blacked out. I was crying – I couldn’t even see him because tears were in my eyes.”

But the surprises didn’t stop there. Daryl had arranged for Meghan’s family and friends to be with them, too.

“I heard running, and it was my brother, and I was like: ‘What are you doing here?’ And he told me that everyone was there. And they were and it was a dream come true. He did such a good job. He knows he did good.”

If you’re a hopeless romantic, check out the whole thing on YouTube.

Daryl is here while Meghan is interviewed, sitting in the hotel suite listening in along with the rest of Team Trainor, including management, publicity and (slightly terrifyingly) her mum Kelli, who only half jokes that we have “zero time left” when the subject of those sex shop pap pictures is raised. Ahem.

“I know no one will believe me but I was there for a friend,” says Meghan of the pictures, which saw her and Daryl leaving said shop with a bag of who knows what.

“And I picked up something for myself, too. It’s allowed! I’m newly engaged and we’re happy.”

She says she realised straight away that Daryl was going to be different from previous boyfriends.

“I knew it was special. With each day I kept learning more about him and was like: ‘Are you kidding me?’ We have the exact same thoughts, and nowadays we are gross – we just finish each other’s sentences.

"Week one we told each other we loved each other and month one I wrote him a song called Marry Me, which was pretty self-explanatory.

“There was something different about him that I’ve never had with any other human. I just felt better when he was in the room and when he was in my eyesight.

"There’s a difference when he’s not there, and then when he shows up after a day of not being with him, I freak out like a puppy coming home to their owners, you know? Like: ‘Oh my god, I thought I’d never see you again!’ and I don’t have that with anybody else.

"To be with somebody every single day and not get sick of them, I have that with him.”

Crucially for Daryl, he got the OK from Meghan’s super-protective dad Gary and two brothers Justin and Ryan.

“You don’t just get me, you get the whole family, and you gotta be accepted by all of them! Put it this way – no one else got accepted, which I know now was a good thing. Thanks, guys!

“It makes me wanna cry because they’re like: ‘Love you, man!’ And Daryl says finally he has brothers.

His father left him when he was two so he never had a dad figure, so now he has my dad and it’s so cool. He’s so cute.” Tears spring in her eyes. “It’s just a perfect match.”

She’s so genuinely happy and so completely in love you can’t help but share in the schmaltz.

Meghan is charming company – animated, engaging and vocal on meaningful issues such as the need for greater gun control back home in the States.

“You can’t rent a car at 25 in America but you can have plenty of weapons,” she says, screwing up her face at the absurdity.

“Not even just guns but semi-whatever rifles. No one needs that in their house! Why do you need that for safety? I’m glad that the [younger generation] are speaking up.

“Maybe they’ll listen now. If we just keep yelling at them, keep going until they get sick of it, then maybe they’ll change.

“I just don’t get it, I don’t understand. All my friends in the UK say they hate going to America, it’s scary. Everyone else has figured it out.”

What does she think about Trump? For someone normally so outspoken, the response is surprising and a little disappointing.

“I don’t know…” she shifts in her seat a little before turning to her team.

“What do I think of Trump?” she asks them.

C’mon, Meghan! Surely a strong, intelligent woman has an opinion of her own? The team signal that we should move the interview on.

“No comment. He’s not worth a comment.”

It was hoped that Meghan’s third album would be released this summer, but a series of delays means it’s now been put back to next year.

She is currently in the studio putting the finishing touches to a record she promises will make you “dance your booty off”.

“It’s big and powerful songs with beautiful melodies and beautiful messages. I’ve really grown into myself and I know what I want to sing about.

“I know what I want to look like as well. If I show skin I want it to be flattering and I want to feel sexy and beautiful.

“So I’ve worked out, I eat really healthy… not just to lose weight but for my mental state after the anxiety – I was desperate to cure myself, and that really did work, and so I try to keep it going.”

After losing a stone and a half, she still has her gorgeous curves, but Meghan looks sleeker, slinkier and more grown-up.

“I’ve never felt better,” she says. “I feel like I’m that artist I’ve always wanted to be. I’m confident with my looks and what I’m doing and what I’m saying.

“I was restricting myself so much because I was so insecure about my body, like I had to wear a skirt with knee-highs and a shirt and jacket. But now I can wear whatever I want and I feel beautiful.

“I feel better. My skin is better. I’ve become addicted to reading the ingredients – the carb and sugar content. Sugar! It’s in everything! Even sugar-free gum! How can a little bag of Haribo, which wouldn’t have filled me up, be like, 50g of sugar and 70g of carbs? I notice everything now.”

She insists it was a lifestyle change rather than a diet, and says exercise has become part of her daily routine.

“I work out every day. No matter what’s happened that day, you can say you looked after yourself for half an hour or an hour and be proud of that. I just wanted my brain to get better, and they said working out would help. And I wanted to get back out on the road and tour and sing this song and not be winded.”

Album, tour… does that leave time to plan a wedding?

“Maybe 2020 for the wedding,” she says. “And I want babies! No more than two. It’s just enough. I want to be young! I have a problem. I said to my therapist that I walk by diapers and I cry – is there something wrong with me? And she said: ‘No, you’re already mothering and it’s adorable.’

“So I’ll wait until I’m really, really ready, though I expect you’re never really ready. I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos of babies, so I do have an obsession: ‘Daryl, look at this baby, we need one!’

“And he’s like: ‘OK…’ He’s excited, too, though. He says he never saw himself having kids until he met me and now he’s like: ‘Man, there should be more of us in the world!’”

She pauses for breath, before adding: “But for now we love being engaged and just knowing it’s locked in.

“No one else can come between us, you know?”

  • Meghan’s third album will be out next year. The single Let You Be Right is out now.
  • Hair: Dimitris Giannetos at Forward Artists  
  • Make-up: Alison Christian at Cloutier Remix  
  • Styling: Charlie Brianna at Opus Beauty

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