Oklahoma-raised country music goddess Carrie Underwood is turning 37 later this month and already has an incredible list of accomplishments behind her.

Having risen to fame as the winner of American Idol’s 4th season in 2005, her first single, “Inside Your Heaven,” made her the only country artist to hit number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and the only solo country artist of the 2000s to have a number 1 song on the Hot 100.

Today, she has six studio albums under her belt. In addition to her grand slam voice, she’s also a songwriter, a fashion designer, and an actress. Oh—and did I mention she’s an animal rights activist and a mother of two? 

But, like anyone who sees great success, Underwood has seen her fair share of unjustified public scrutiny and criticism. What makes her so badass is that she’s refused to bow down to unreasonable, and indeed unattainable expectations.

Plastic surgery rumors…how original

In November 2017, Underwood took an incredible fall on the steps outside her home and injured herself badly. “I was taking the dogs out and I just, I tripped,” she explained. “There was one step and I didn’t let go of the leashes. Priorities!”

In addition to a broken wrist, and some cuts and scrapes, she also needed close to 50 stitches on her face. She had to cancel her performance at the Country Rising benefit (which raised money for victims of the Las Vegas shooting and those affected by Hurricane Maria). Luckily, her totally supportive husband, then NHL star Mike Fisher flew home overnight to take care of her.

After her accident, Underwood hid her face for a good five months, until the release of her 6th album, Cry Pretty. Today she has a faint (but badass) scar running from her lip to her nose. Whatever doesn’t kill us, am I right?

Even though Underwood had tweeted about the incident, letting her fanbase and the world at large know she “might look a bit different,” people, of course, began saying she had undergone plastic surgery, which was not only inaccurate, but also outrageously dismissive of the seriousness of her injury.

On her Instagram, she received comments like, “Where are your scars from your fall???” “Shame on you for leading your fans on about your face.” “She needs to get over herself… This woman won’t show her face over a tiny scar. She’s a superficial no talent.” 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BokhMn2l8Ez/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

She did not let them win

Knowing she would be facing the scrutinity of the whole world, Carrie had hoped that being upfront with her fans would avoid the subsequent speculations. 

“I [felt] like people were going to say like, ‘What has she done to herself,’ you know … electably. And it definitely was not a choice.”

During an interview with Redbook magazine, she called the online speculation that she had a nose job or other work done to her face “sad.”

The truth is just as interesting I wish I’d gotten some awesome plastic surgery to make this (scar) look better, but I try not to worry too much about it. I’m on some magazine every other week for something crazy.

Carrie Underwood to USA Today

Indeed, these days it seems celebs are either getting plastic surgery or being accused of it. I think we all need to get our priorities straight already, and suspend our judgement, for starters.

The worst part is, Carrie went through a traumatic event. And having people invalidate her experience in a way that is so shallow must be extremely frustrating.

But then, it was body shaming

And, because the more things change, the more they stay the same, like most female celebrities, Carrie also knows what it’s like to be body shamed.

Even back in 2005 as an American Idol star, she was criticized about her weight online. 

“I shouldn’t care what other people think about me,” she recently told Women’s Health. Nonetheless, she wasn’t feeling at her healthiest back then, and, she says, she let her “haters be her motivators.”

While she at first felt way better exercising lots and eating less, she shares that she sometimes ate as little as 800 calories a day, which was not, and has never been sustainable.

Today, however, Underwood (who happens to be a vegan as well as lactose intolerant) is older and wiser. She has her own fitness & nutrition app for women, and she recently wrote a book too (the manual she wishes she had had when she started out): Find Your Path: Honor Your Body, Fuel Your Soul, and Get Strong With Fit52Life

Don’t let your haters be your motivators (at least, not all the time)

So, while Underwood’s journey into stardom began with stupid people hating on her gorgeous bod, and while she did teeter on the edge of unhealthy habits for some time, today she has transformed her once dubious approach to health into the knowledge-packed personal science of putting her best self forward—for her fans, her family, and her music, of course.

One thing’s for sure: haters are always gonna hate, but I’d say Underwood has much better motivators these days. 

Bottom line: even if her music isn’t for you, there are many reasons to treat the down-home songstress like a proper role model. In addition to consistently bucking expectations with regards to her physical appearance, Carrie’s also a practicing Christian who has been vocal in her support of gay marriage, she’s known for dissing men who cheat (as in her hit song Before he cheats), and she suffered three miscarriages in just a year, only to bounce back, through the sheer power of faith and positivity (not without struggle, of course).

No stranger to adversity, Carrie sets a shining example to us all. I might sum it up like so: do what you love, and stay true to yourself—against all odds.

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