Dear Meghan Trainor,
I understand your frustration with the fact that skinny is the standard of beauty for women in our society. I am frustrated, too. But the way you address the issue of body image in “All About That Bass” just gives a different face to the same problem. I commend you for calling out the Photoshopped models in the magazines, and attempting to send out a message that “every inch of you is perfect.” But the majority of your song doesn’t support that mantra—not for all body types, that is.
You may not be a size 2, but you are white and blonde, and that standard of beauty is just as detrimental for young girls who don’t fit that description. Notice how Beyonce’s look has changed over the years. In her Destiny’s Child days, her hair was brown and her skin was left untouched by the magazine editors. But since then, she has only been getting more light-skinned and blonde. Body fat isn’t the only thing that Photoshop can manipulate. Beyonce definitely didn’t wake up like that, but at least her lyrics empower all women to feel flawless, not just those with “bass.”
Next, you claim to be able to “shake it, shake it, like I’m supposed to do.” How exactly are girls and women supposed to shake it? Is being bigger justified by the fact that you can dance? Taylor Swift would be, in your song,classified as a “skinny bitch,” and she is a notoriously “bad” dancer, but her latest single owns that fact and says it’s okay to be that way.
Another thing: What does having “all the right junk in all the right places” even mean? Who determines where those “right places” are? This is also something that is influenced by images in the media. You are trying to tell bigger girls that it is okay not to have a Barbie doll body type while still implying that there is a right and wrong way to have “junk” and a right and wrong way to “shake”—this is counterproductive.
You say you’re “bringing booty back” as if other female celebrities, especially female celebrities of color, haven’t been trying to normalize a curvy figure for years. I’m thinking of Queen Latifah in the 2005 movie Beauty Shop, in which her character asks her daughter if the pair of pants she’s wearing make her butt look big, to which her daughter replies, “yeah, they do,” and she smiles and responds, “perfect.” What about Jennifer Lawrence, who refused to diet for her Hunger Games role? Or Unique from Glee? Tastee in Orange is the New Black? All these women and the characters they play lead by example of how to be confident in a body type that isn’t praised in the media.
You say you “got that ‘boom boom’ that all the boys chase,” implying that being bigger is something that men desire. Do you really mean to say that it is okay to be big just because it attracts guys? Your mother may have told you that “boys like a little more booty to hold at night,” but this not only makes skinny an unaccepted body type, but also only gives a woman’s appearance purpose in the sole context of what pleases men. I know magazines tell us we need to be getting skinnier, but is it better to tell girls that they need to be bigger because that’s what boys want them to be? You will not be a “stick-figure, silicone Barbie doll,” but that’s because you were born with a different body type. “Them skinny bitches” shouldn’t be ridiculed for something they can’t help.
The point is not to glorify a bigger body type just because our society arbitrarily pressures girls and women to be skinny. The point is to promote the acceptance of all body types—and, even get to a place where, maybe, a woman’s entire existence isn’t focused on her appearance. Why don’t you write a song berating journalists who ask female politicians about their fashion choices and not their political platforms? Yes, yes, I will probably “shake it” (with a blatant disregard for how I am “supposed” to do so, mind you) to your song with my friends in a Mod next Saturday, and it may give me a little satisfaction to belt out lyrics that condemn a body image that I feel like I don’t have. But right after that song plays there will probably be 10 other songs featuring guys talking about skinny women with big butts and breasts. It is important to empower girls and women to love their bodies, but it is equally important to teach boys and men how to talk about women in ways that don’t focus solely on their appearance.
A girl with a little bit of treble and a little bit of bass, but a whole lot of opinion.
Featured Image by Al Powers / AP Photo