Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass” Is No Feminist Anthem
Listening to (and belting out) Top 40 songs in the car is non-negotiable if you’re riding along with me. I love the bubble-gum-for-your-brain songs and gush over new pop tunes. However, I also identify as a feminist and am inclined to listen to these songs with critical ears, ready to pick up on any all-too-common sexist remarks. So, when the radio host proclaimed, “I’ll be playing a song from Meghan Trainor, called ‘All About That Bass’ - some call this catchy song the new pro-women song of the decade,” you could safely assume that I was beyond excited to hear it.
As the first few beats bubbled up from the speakers, I was instantly captivated. The repetition of the phrase “Because you know I’m all about that bass, no treble” seemed like an ode to one of my favorite feminist musician Nicki Minaj’s songs entitled “Superbass” (to which I will proudly rap for anyone who so much as mentions the song). Even though it was my first time listening, I quickly began to hum along. Soon, Meghan was singing about how she “ain’t no size 2” how she can “shake it” like she’s “supposed to do.” She sang about how she sees magazines “workin’ that Photoshop,” and begs for the wholly negative and hurtful practice to end. And she croons the most important line of the entire song sweetly, “every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top.”
At this point, I was incredibly impressed with the song. “Finally!” I thought, “A pop song that calls out incredibly damaging societal practices… especially body shaming.” After a few more body-affirming lines, however, the song quickly took a turn for the worse. For me, it comes down to ten simple words. She mentions how her mother told her to not worry about her size, the reason being that “boys like a little more booty to hold at night.” As the lyrics washed over me, I lowered the volume and sighed. Within that short refrain, the entire song’s message was tainted.
Although earlier Meghan preached body positivity and self-confidence regardless of one’s outer beauty and size, those ten words suggest that the only way a female can achieve complete body-acceptance is still through male validation. The only reason a girl should take pleasure in her body is because boys enjoy (and are entitled to) her more voluptuous features. This lyric merely reinforces deeply entrenched gender roles within our society, as well as excludes women/girls who are not interested in men/boys or any gender at all.
After that distasteful lyric, the song’s positive message fell even further from grace as Meghan constantly repeated that she “ain’t no silicone, stick-figure Barbie doll,” and sang that she’s “bringing booty back…go tell them skinny b*tches that.” By singing these two lines, she degrades women who are naturally thin and petite. (However, it is extraordinarily important to note that our society and thin-obsessed culture has the tendency to idolize slender women while being incredibly reproachful of larger women). Even though she soon returns to singing about loving one’s body, these lyrics that insinuate that women smaller than the singer should not be considered "real women" who deserve a man can't be ignored.
Although Meghan Trainor wrote and sang “All About That Bass” in order to promote self-love and positive body image, her lyrics convey to her female audience that their bodies were created for men’s approval, and that in order to feel better about their own bodies, it is okay to disgrace the bodies of other women. Obtaining a man’s approval through one’s particular physical appearance is not, in any way, a mark of a woman’s potential self-worth. The message that should have emanated from the song is that everyone is beautiful, regardless of his or her body type and outer appearance. Just remember “every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top” and don’t worry about your size, because your self-worth isn’t dictated by a bunch of guys.
More articles by Category: Body image and body standards, Feminism, Media, Misogyny
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