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  • Writer's pictureBella Sirpilla

Unveiling A Mask Through Kelsea Ballerini's "Homecoming Queen"

I wanted to talk about a song that has become incredibly meaningful to me. Kelsea Ballerini's "Homecoming Queen" from her album "Kelsea," released in March 2020, struck a chord with me in a way I never expected.

To set the stage, let me take you back to March 2020. I was a senior at High Point University, excitedly preparing for my future with a career in dentistry. Spring break came, and I left for some much-needed relaxation, never anticipating that I wouldn't return to school due to the global pandemic that swept across the world. Suddenly, everything changed, and my life, like everyone else's, was thrown into disarray. Music and television became my refuge during those uncertain times.

Fast forward to November 2020, and I found myself leaving dental school, a dream I had worked so hard for, but my life had unraveled to the point where I couldn't ignore it any longer. I was faced with a daunting task - confronting my own flaws, traumas, and insecurities head-on. After hearing "Homecoming Queen" when I was in a different headspace, it felt like the song was written for me. She sings But what if I told you the world wouldn't end If you started showing what's under your skin? What if you let 'em all in on the lie? Even the homecoming queen cries

Kelsea's lyrics perfectly described the façade I had built throughout my life - always ensuring that I looked perfect on the outside, hiding my inner turmoil. The idea of being flawless consumed me, but this song reminded me that I didn't need to chase an illusion of perfection. Instead, I needed to embrace my true self, flaws and all.

In "Homecoming Queen," Kelsea sings, "Hey Homecoming queen, Been so good at smiling, Most of your life." I, too, had been good at wearing a smile, making others feel better while burying my own pain. Behind that smile was a lot of hurt that I had been avoiding for far too long. Another verse sings “look damn good in the dress, zipping up the messand I did this on so many occasions. I am an emotional person, but I was good at “zipping up the mess” and concealing my anxiety during important social events and hiding behind my smile and talkative personality. I had experienced deep bouts of depression at various points in my life, and I never opened up about my dark thoughts to my friends because I didn’t want anyone to worry about me. Kelsea's song was a mirror reflecting my inner struggles, and every time I hear it now, it brings me to tears.

My senior year in high school, I wasn't the homecoming queen; I was the homecoming senior attendant, and my boyfriend was the homecoming king. The spotlight was never something I desired, and I didn’t want to be on the homecoming court, but I was elected by my peers. The thought of walking in front of the whole school with a crown on my head made my stomach churn, but I had to get over my fear of being in front of people, and I did it.

But here's the thing: you don't have to be a homecoming queen to relate to this song. It's about shedding the masks we wear and being true to ourselves.

The music video for "Homecoming Queen" beautifully captures the essence of the song's message. Kelsea starts off all dolled up in her makeup after a performance, but as the video progresses, her makeup comes off, she changes from a dress to sweats, and her extensions are removed. She reveals her vulnerability as she cries, and there's a powerful scene where a girl is looking in the mirror, judging her own body. Those insecurities, hidden for so long, suddenly become exposed.

College was the time when many of my insecurities surfaced, and I became my harshest critic. Kelsea Ballerini's song and its accompanying video helped me see that it's okay to be myself, imperfections and all. It's about embracing authenticity, and for me, it was a reminder to stop hiding behind the mask of perfection.

In conclusion, Kelsea Ballerini's "Homecoming Queen" touched my heart and soul in a profound way. It taught me that it's okay to be vulnerable, to be real, and to stop striving for an unattainable standard of perfection. This song has become my anthem of self-acceptance, and I hope it can inspire others to be their true selves as well.

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