Up and comer Leanna Crawford is an artist to watch. Captured by her sound, Grammy Nominated & Dove Award winner Matthew West began working with her in an artist development capacity. And, it didn’t take long for Matthew to sign Leanna to his record label, Story House Collective. In 2020, Leanna released her self-titled EP, which includes standout songs, “Truth I’m Standing On,” “Photoshop,” and “Funeral.”
Leanna has emerged as one of Christian music’s top new female vocalists. Not to mention that she’s a great role model for girls. Leanna encourages her listeners, such as me and my family, with her songs. Every song lifts me up.
She has an infectious and upbeat musical style, layering her strong and distinguished vocals over the top of one hooky melody after another.
Every song showcases her excellent singing voice. You can practically hear her smile as she delivers one infectious song after another. The layered and well-produced musical arrangements on this EP perfectly accentuate Leanna’s powerful and passionate songs. I had the chance to speak with Leanna about her song “Mean Girls.”
Please tell me the personal story behind this song.
It seems to me that many girls at a young age say things they don’t think about before they say them. Or, even say things to purposefully hurt someone’s feelings. To me, words mean so much, as stated in “Mean Girls.” Words would have so much impact on me, from letters and handwritten notes to text messages. For a lot of girls, words carry a lot of weight.
From a very young age, we’re told different things by our close friends or family. Let’s not forget social media. Young teens and younger girls have never known a world without social media. I think that has such a huge impact on us.
I’m thankful because I grew up in a home with a very loving family. My dad encouraged and loved his girls. I can’t imagine girls growing up without a loving dad in their life. But, even with my dad’s encouragement, I have insecurities over words spoken about me and to me.
Thankfully, we have a Heavenly Father and His words that He speaks over us. Those words from God matter the most.
The song’s inspiration came from me scrolling through Instagram. There, Natalie Grant shared an impactful story. She and one of her daughters were at a doctor’s office. And, in a hallway, they saw a daughter, who was with her mother, on a weight scale. Her mom exclaimed, very loudly, how her daughter had gained a lot of weight.
In her story, Natalie said this behavior wasn’t okay, and we can’t do that to our girls. I was so moved by her words. So, I sat down at my piano and started writing this song. The sentiment that started the song was the phrase, “I smile and pretend it doesn’t hurt.” That idea was what I brought to the songwriting session when I wrote this song.
Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song?
Ephesians 2:10(NLT): "For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago."
Proverbs 25:21(NIV): "If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink."
Matthew 25:40(NIV): The King will reply, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for Me."
Psalm 19:14(NKJV): "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer."
Matthew 15:18(NKJV): "But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man."
James 3:9-10(NIV): "With the tongue, we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be."
Romans 12:2(VOICE): "Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind. As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatever God finds good, pleasing, and complete."
Psalm 139:13-14(NKJV): "For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well."
What is the takeaway message?
“Mean Girls” is a very vulnerable and honest song. The second verse about changing my clothes a thousand times before I walk out of the door is so me. It’s an insecurity I have because of what people have said to me.
My first memory was when I was nine years old and one of my girlfriends at the time made a comment about my weight. That was the day it shifted for me. I remember bawling to my mom. And, when I read Natalie’s story shared on Instagram, this thought came to me: “We need to be careful with our words.”
We all need to be careful with our words, and even more so now with social media. There’s this standard that says we need to look a certain way. And, if you don’t live up to that standard, in your mind, you feel like a failure—even if no one has said anything to you. It’s the reality of this song.
The heart behind “Mean Girls” is to let people know that I don’t have it all together—regardless of what I post on social media. God has the final say and His words are the only words that matter. This is the only message we should be listening to. It’s still hard to hear and see messages that tear you down.
The song is meant to be an encouragement for anyone dealing with negative messages that they see and hear. It’s so hard, and we can guard our hearts and minds. But, we live in a broken world and there’s a lot of hurt.
I would tell my fourteen-year-old self, that I thought I’d know who I was all the time once I got into my twenties and everything would be perfect. No, that’s not what happens. There’s always this idea that you’re falling short and not good enough. There’s the sad reality about that hurt. But, the good news is that as you mature in your walk with Jesus, the more you get to know Him. One of my pastors said, “the more you know about God, the more you realize how much you need Him.”
Mean girls aren’t just in middle school and high school. There are people who say mean things throughout our whole lives, and it’s not going to become perfect, but knowing who you are in Christ and reminding yourself of the promises of who we are and that we have a purpose are the words that you have to remember instead.
Also, have women in your life who encourage you. We are meant to be in community. Bring your struggles into the light and God can work on your heart.
Mean girls don’t remember What they said Well it’s funny cause I can’t seem to forget Their whispers Opened up the door To a world called insecure No, mean girls don’t remember What they said
Stick and stones May break my bones But no one ever warned Me about words
I smile and I pretend It doesn’t hurt But the older that I get It just gets worse Lord, find me and remind me That my worth Is worth so much more Than their words
The little girl inside That picture frame Was smiling cause She never heard of shame But now mean girls Are the reason why I change my clothes A thousand times Before I walk out the door
Stick and stones May break my bones But no one ever warned Me about words
I smile and I pretend It doesn’t hurt But the older that I get It just gets worse
Lord, find me and remind me That my worth Is worth so much more Than their words
You say I’m more Than their words So much more Than their words
I smile and I pretend It doesn’t hurt But the older that I get It just gets worse I need You to find me And remind me That my worth Is worth so much more Than their words
I take my responsibility as a Christian father very seriously (I have three girls under 21). My daughters' sense of self-worth, love, and knowledge of who they are in Christ is going to be most learned, while they live in my home. As the primary spiritual leader of my family, one of my jobs is to teach my girls biblical principles about love and self-respect.
"Mean Girls" really captures my true desire as a hurting father in this broken world, which tells girls lies. The song is a reminder to put my hope in Christ's love and to affirm my daughters that they're loved more than they can ever know by me and their Heavenly Father.
Satan seeks to destroy us and our relationship with God by making us believe lies that things of this world will fill the holes in our hearts. Leanna has written an exceptional set of songs on her self-titled EP that's all based on the truth. The truth that deals with the identity struggle we all face of knowing that, as children of God, we are made in His image, and we are made whole only by His love.
We're called as Christians to believe in the freedom that we have in the cross of Jesus. We're free from our fears, addictions, insecurities, and perfectionism. Jesus came to die for us so that we can all truly live in Him.
"Mean Girls" really reminds listeners of the power of words and the need to "tame our tongues" from James 3. The tongue is capable of use for both virtue and vice. The same mouth uses the tongue for these contradictory purposes. James echoes Jesus' emphasis on the crucial importance of the use of words in daily life.
This song articulates what it means to live a God-centered life in a turbulent world. My wife and I have tried to raise our daughters to have confidence that they have been made in God's likeness. We've also urged them to not compromise their values from peer pressure or make fun of other people. That's a tough balance we have as believers.
We can all take strength in knowing that our Savior, Jesus has promised us that the world will hate us because it hated Him first. Jesus commands believers to love others as He loved us, and to show His love by helping people who can't help themselves. That's how we can show God in us to others. Also, look for God in the least of these.
The takeaway is that loving others is not something we can do on our own. We're not going to always succeed and be encouraging all the time. This is your daily prayer: ask God to come and change your heart and life in such a way that your behavior and the way you live flows from God living inside of you.
As Christians, we're called to speak out against injustice. We often mistake staying quiet about issues as turning the other cheek. The truth is that Jesus flipped over the tables in the temple when He saw injustice. In Micah 6:8 (NKJV) we are told, "He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" I love to sing along with this song with all my heart, “Lord, find me and remind me that my worth is worth so much more than their words.” Amen to that.
NRT lead contributor Kevin Davis is a longtime fan of Christian music, an avid music collector, and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters.
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