“Sometimes, you step in things, and you’re not trying to be divisive, but, all of the sudden, people have decided for you what you meant and what your intention was.”
Those are the words of Matthew West, the Christian recording artist who faced social media scorn earlier this year over his lighthearted song “Modest Is Hottest,” which some argued was “so disturbing” and “demeaning.” The 44-year-old singer ultimately apologized for the jokey track, intended to remind his two daughters their value isn’t tied to their physical appearance.
“It was just a lighthearted, good values kind of thing,” West told Faithwire this week. “[T]hat turned into a real storm for me, where it was like, people were getting very ugly and then I felt pressure to pull the video down and then Christians came after me, saying, ‘Well, you’re just a coward.'”
West said he never meant to make any sort of “political statement” with the song.
“When they started to turn it into something it wasn’t,” the singer-songwriter explained, “I had to step in as a dad and try to protect my daughters. … The only reason I bring that story up is because, these days, I’m realizing, man, I really like you and I really like talking to you, but you’re not my audience. And anybody listening to this, I really like them and I hope what I share with them really encourages them, but now more than ever, I realize I have an audience of exactly one.”
“If I can move forward daily, going, ‘God, whatever I do today, I don’t want to take a step without you leading it, I don’t wanna speak a word without you breathing it into me. I want to be at the center of Your will for my life and I want to be God-honoring,’” West continued, “and then let the chips fall where they may, because that’s my chief goal in life.”
“I don’t always hit that mark — nobody does, but at the end of the day, I want that to be the most recurring heartbeat within me,” he added.
What’s the backstory?
In the since-removed song, West jokingly sang that he wanted his daughters to choose outfits that were “a little more Amish, a little less Kardashian” because “modest is hottest, the latest fashion trend.” He sang, “If I catch you doing dances on TikTok in a crop top, so help me God, you’ll be grounded till the world stops.”
West described the songs as a “ridiculously silly way of reminding [my kids] that their appearance doesn’t define them.”
After facing ultimately deleted criticism from singer Audrey Assad, political columnist Kirsten Powers, and Oklahoma pastor Jeremy Coleman, the worship leader took to Instagram in late June to issue an apology, saying he realized some “did not receive [the song] as it was intended.”
“I’ve taken the feedback to heart,” West said at the time. “The last thing I want is to distract from the real reason why I make music, to spread a message of hope and love to the world.”
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