All About That Bass? All about that body shaming

// 22 October 2014

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Veena Chandar, 18, takes issue with ‘All About That Bass’ and its implication that we should only appreciate our bodies if boys admire them.

 “So whaaaat? It’s catchy!”

Welcome to the 21st century where, according to many, sexism is obsolete and feminism is a wasted movement. Yet, a song placed at no.1 in the UK charts, being blasted at every radio station for all to hear is filled with body-shaming sentiments. But, hey, it’s catchy right?

The world is already so good at tearing women down, picking at anything from our image to our quirks, without the added internalised misogyny that Meghan Trainor presents in her new song. What I see happening lately isn’t a celebration of larger bodies but, instead, a tokenistic de-humanisation of smaller ones. It’s encouraging one group of de-humanised women to step up and degrade and dehumanise another. This is flawed because thin women were never the oppressors holding all the power in the first place. Women have always had their appearances critiqued by men. It’s just that thin women have tended to experience this less. However, ‘All About That Bass’ seems to reflect a view that it is only right to overthrow those awful “skinny bitches”, because “How dare they be critiqued less by our beloved oppressors?”

Of course, it’s clear thin privilege still exists, with larger women and men facing discrimination every day and thin people being given a pass. But supporting retaliation in the form of hatred is a useless cause when we need to all be working towards the same goal of body-positivity for everyone.

And what happened to body positivity in this song? Why should thinner bodies be deemed unappealing because they don’t have that “boom boom” that all the “boys chase”? Since when has body positivity had anything to do with boys chasing you? Self-acceptance is exactly what it says it is: you accepting yourself. Why should any group of women be dismissed as “stick figure” “Barbie dolls” complying to the media’s expectations? After all, there are lots of women, regardless of size, who don’t care what the media or boys think.

Let me paint you a lovely picture of the future. Fifteen years pass. I am sitting across the dining table from my little daughter and, as she reaches for the vegetables, I smack her hand away and put chocolate on her plate instead. “Why, Mummy?” She asks me. “Because,” I say looking at her straight in the eyes, “boys like a little more booty to hold at night.”

I realise that’s a bit far-fetched, but you get my point. Children are listening to this song being played on the radio and, in my opinion, it is arguably as toxic as a song promoting being skinny would be. Both stances promote one body type and dismiss another. Even worse, they imply we should only appreciate our bodies if boys admire them.

It’s no surprise that Meghan Trainor doesn’t consider herself a feminist. If the values and internalised misogyny towards ‘skinny’ women in ‘All About That Bass’ are anything to go by, I don’t think she would make a very convincing one. It seems that, according to this song, you should love yourself… unless you’re a skinny woman, in which case, you’re going to die alone just because men apparently don’t want you.

Being a woman nowadays is a lot like the lyrics in Kelly Clarkson’s song ‘You Can’t Win’:

If you’re thin, poor little walking disease

If you’re not, they’re all screaming obese.

And those are the only two we can be apparently. Nothing in-between.

Well, the world is definitely changing. We no longer need men to objectify and de-humanise women and portray them as only for men’s entertainment because we have women to do that as well. Not all men? Well, apparently it’s men and some women too.

Meghan, I don’t really care if you have “all the right junk in all the right places”. Because yet another voice telling us what’s right or wrong when it comes to women’s bodies is just more misogyny and I’m tired of it.

Image description:

Front cover for Meghan Trainor’s ‘All About That Bass’ single. This is pink with the shoulders and right hand of a woman (possibly Trainor or intended as a depiction of her) with a baby blue top and matching nails holding up an peach coloured sign with the name of the artist in white at the top and of the song at the bottom. Two speakers are pictured in the middle of the sign. Shared under fair dealing.

Comments From You

David Smiths // Posted 25 October 2014 at 12:07 am

Actually This song is about the opposite of body shaming. At least it’s supposed to be. The song is about encouraging those who are a little overweight, and about how body size doesent matter. She says “every inch of you is perfect from the body to the top” and says how photoshop needs to stop and talks about how society tells people how to look a certain way, and that that is stupid. Meghan trainor actually says what the song is about and it’s about what I just mentioned. And you can’t argue with me on this one cause I’m pretty sure she knows more about the song than you. Like I see how a lot of people see how it’s offensive but it’s not supposed to be and it really isn’t if u really listen to all the lyrics.

Holly Combe // Posted 2 November 2014 at 9:45 am

David, I don’t see why the stated intentions behind the song should invalidate Veena’s criticisms! The singer’s take on a song doesn’t somehow end the debate about it or mean people can’t argue that, actually, something else comes across. You mention Meghan saying it’s wrong for society to tell us we have to look a certain way and she’s absolutely right, but the presence of one good point does not make the problematic stuff Veena discusses magically disappear. Needing to make generalisations about what boys apparently like in order to validate or appreciate a body shape is hardly progress.

Also, if body size doesn’t matter, why would you describe anyone as “a little overweight”? Doesn’t that imply it kind of does? We shouldn’t be body shaming people who are more than “a little overweight” according to currently imposed standards either.

And what if someone has a shape that could lead them to be categorised as what ‘All About That Bass’ dismisses as a “stick figure silicone Barbie doll”? Disparaging comments like that obviously don’t constitute structural oppression by any stretch of the imagination but they’re hardly “the opposite of body shaming” are they?

Ellesar // Posted 6 November 2014 at 4:42 pm

I am sick to death of people presenting body acceptance and self love as only for a ‘curvy’ girls/ women! I have never been a ‘skinny bitch’ and I know that there are thin women who happily fat shame all the time (my next door neighbour is an excellent eg – previously very large she has been skinny for a number of years now and v often speaks disparagingly about fat women, to ME, a fat woman!) but ‘turning the tables’ is not productive, and it is not feminist. It is the same sort of thing in my eyes to ‘reversing’ sexism by objectifying men – IT DOES NOT HELP AND IT IS NOT FEMINIST!

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