I was out at the bars with my friends this past weekend when this song, “All About That Bass”, caught my attention. I’m usually an Indie/Pop-Punk/Alt Rock type of girl, but when I’m out on the town, my brain switches to “club music mode” so I can enjoy my evening without getting caught up in an oh-my-god-this-music-is-all-terrible mood. This song caught my attention because of it’s bumping groove and the fact that I heard something about not being a barbie doll. Ok! I’m liking the sound of that! Later, I went to look it up in a setting where I’d actually be able to hear the words, I was a little disappointed in what I heard.
The overall message of Meghan Trainor’s song appears to be about loving your body and not caring about what other people think of it “cause every inch of you is perfect, from the bottom to the top.” She also goes on to call out the unrealistic images of women that we see all the time: “I see the magazine workin’ that Photoshop. We know that shit ain’t real. Come on now, make it stop.” In general, I’m a pretty big fan! I mean, especially as a heavier-than-ideal woman, whom society rarely tells is beautiful, it’s refreshing to hear another heavier-than-ideal woman come forward and declare that she loves her body, and so should you.
I have a few bones to pick.
While I am happy that she says to be proud of your body, I’m really not a fan of the WHY you should be proud of your body. The underlying idea sprinkled in the song isn’t that all bodies are equal and deserve equal respect. It seems to be that the reason you should be okay with your body is because men find it attractive.
Yeah, my mama she told me don’t worry about your size
She says, “Boys like a little more booty to hold at night.”
I can shake it, shake it like I’m supposed to do
‘Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase,
And all the right junk in all the right places.
So don’t worry, dear, if people call you fat. You should like that big butt because GUYS like big butts! Isn’t it great? Guys’ interests have switched from the skinny girls to the big girls! We finally have a chance! Nevermind if you like the way you look. That’s irrelevant. We’re just here for the aesthetic pleasure of men!
Ok, maybe that’s a little extreme, but you can see my point. The whole song screams “love your body because guys love your body!” There is nothing that points out how healthy self love is intrinsic and must start from within. Even the mom, the female role model that most young girls look up to, tells her daughter not to worry because boys like the way she looks. The words may have changed from “alter yourself to please men” to “don’t change! you already please men!”, but the message is still the same.
I also have a problem with the way she criticizes skinny women and women without a lot of “bass”.
You know I won’t be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll.
I’m bringing booty back. Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that.
This seems to be a really big theme within the supposed “Body Positive” movement. They pump up the body types that are typically seen as being not beautiful (good!), but they do it by tearing down the bodies of women who meet the beauty standard (bad!). We see it all the time with those pictures on Tumblr and Facebook praising Marylin Monroe’s curvy body and proclaiming how much sexier she is than very skinny actresses like Keira Knightley and Heidi Montag. And on fitspo blogs that explain how skinny girls are lazy because their bodies come naturally thin.
In the music video, there is a traditionally beautiful woman who has been wrapped in plastic wrap, seemingly to represent the “silicone Barbie doll.” I don’t understand why people think it is acceptable to make fun of women who fit the beauty standard when they have about the same control over how their body looks as anyone does. It’s not a naturally skinny girl’s fault if she is born naturally skinny. And even if she did purposely alter her body to fit the mold (by either diet, exercise, or plastic surgery), what business is it of yours? As long as an adult is making consensual decisions that aren’t causing harm to themselves or others, it is no one’s place to judge them.
I understand that it’s an attempt to infiltrate an environment that has been saturated with a fairly narrow beauty ideal with other options, but putting down those bodies that fit is not the way to do it. I imagine a young girl who is maybe on the heavier side hearing this song and feeling inspired, which is great! But I also imagine a young girl who is on the thin side without much curve hearing this song and feeling inadequate, which is horrible. I’m chubby. I’ve spent my whole life growing up hearing that my body isn’t beautiful, never seeing women who looked like me on tv, being told that I should try to lose weight, not out of concern for my health, but in order to look more attractive. It sucks. It sucks being told that how people look is the most important thing, and what you look like isn’t good enough. The fat girls shouldn’t have to hear that anymore. But that doesn’t mean that the skinny girls should.
We should definitely be giving recognition to body types that break the standard of beauty, but why do we have to flip the script and dismiss or put down body types that fit it? Why does it have to be skinny good, fat bad OR fat good, skinny bad? Why does it always have to be one or the other?
You said it, Old El Paso girl. Why don’t we have both? How about we stop tearing each other down to try and make us feel better about ourselves? How about we stop trying to live up to whatever standard of beauty society currently tells us is “in”? How about we stop trying to change the beauty standard? How about instead we say fuck beauty standards and embrace ourselves and everyone else just as we are?
Let’s be all about that bass AND that treble. And everything in between.