Unless you've completely dedicated yourself to avoiding popular radio for the past two months, you will have come across the pop hit, All About That Bass, by Meghan Trainor. You also will have had that bloody “I'm all about that bass, about that bass, no treble" hook mercilessly stuck in your head for hours, just like I have. You are also one one of the 127 million people who have watched the sweet, pastel-laden video clip on YouTube.
The video personifies the positive, self-love message that the song directs towards heavier girls, by emphasizing the sexiness of curves and denouncing the unrealistic female body standards currently in place in society. All the women in the video clip (save one) are lively, curvaceous, and apparently very good at getting down.
All About That Bass is part of a current trend in pop music that celebrates a different kind of body. Beyoncé's Pretty Hurts and Nicki Minaj's Anaconda are two other contributions that immediately come to mind, and I'm not even going to touch J-Lo and Iggy Azaelea's Booty right now because those are entirely separate messes.
Here's my issue: neither Trainor nor Minaj's recent hits are actually about perpetuating self-love at all. They're just about shifting the ideal, and therefore being equally as exclusive. While Trainor's lyrics, for the most part, do embrace a progressive message, I can't look past the fact that she uses the term "skinny bitches" in a song supposedly about celebrating the diverse nature of women's figures. When Trainor uses lyrics such as “Yeah my mama she told me don't worry about your size, she says 'boys like a little more booty to hold at night'" she's damaging some women's self-esteems. If progress is truly going to be made, it's going to be by celebrating all bodies, and by slamming Nicki Minaj for saying outlandishly idiotic things like “Fuck the skinny bitches! Fuck the skinny bitches in the club!"
Like any girl who struggled for years with my body and my image of my body, I wholeheartedly support the acceptance of bodies in their natural and stable shapes. I find All About That Bass frustratingly unproductive: while it may celebrate diversity on the surface, it actually celebrates a very specific women's body, and that makes it just as discriminating as everything else. What has been dubbed the 'booty revolution' in popular music makes some women feel just as bad about themselves as, to use Trainor's terminology, 'skinny bitches' do.
In Trainor's video clip, there's a tall slim woman who is essentially used to illustrate 'skinny bitches', and she's decked out in high heels and a plastic dress to really bring that stereotype home. She's then humiliated about her figure by having other dancers swing their booties around her.
Let's just cut out the size-ism here: it's not helping anybody and only makes a different group of women feel totally crappy about themselves.
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