In defense of “All About that Bass”

It has recently come to my attention that some people find fault in the message behind Megan Trainor’s well-known (and possibly overplayed) song, “All About that Bass.” For an in-depth critique of the song and music video, head over to jennytrout.com to read one by the eponymous author. In this piece, you’ll find more of a defense of the song.

In one of the first lines of the song, Trainor sings, “Yeah, it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size two / But I can shake it, shake it, like I’m supposed to do.” Ms. Trout critiques this line, saying (among other things), “easy to digest anthems and slogans of this nature are meant to make women who think they’re fat feel good about the fat bodies they don’t have, while constantly reminding them that they should feel fat.” While it is clear, when viewing the video, that Meghan Trainor is neither a size two nor a size fourteen, she does fall in the “normal” body type that seems forever forgotten in media. The fact that “normal” sized women do “think they’re fat” is a problem in society itself, but I see no problem with women who perceive themselves as heavier feeling good about the bodies they have. As someone who went through dramatic weight loss in high school, I know intimately what it’s like to still feel like “the fat girl” years after reaching a “normal” body weight. I place normal in quotation marks because it’s so rare to see a real normal in media today. Instead, most girls are a size two or smaller.

Returning to the critique, I do not see how the lyric reminds women that they should feel fat. Rather, it merely states the fact that most women are not size two’s, but that shouldn’t matter. You should still dance as much as you’d like. The lyric never specifies for whom women are “supposed” to be dancing, but upon my first listen I honestly thought it referred to dancing for yourself, for fun, and not necessarily a man. In addition, the author of the critique thinks that the aforementioned lyric implies that “people who’re a size two can’t shake it.”

Forgive me if I read with a more positive attitude, which could inherently bias my reading, but Trainor’s assertion does not strike me as exclusionary. It does not call out smaller people in particular as those who can “shake it,” but I think we are all aware that this is an anthem aimed at those who do not often have a song to rally behind.

The next lyric that Ms. Trout critiques, “Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase / And all the right junk in all the right places.” First of all, this line has no specific reference to body size. Beyoncé certainly has all the right junk in all the right places and she is, as most know, not a large woman. The author claims that the lyric is negative because it implies that beauty is directly related to whether or not a man finds you attractive. While I do agree that beauty should not be based on whether or not one is sexually desirable for the opposite sex, I think that this message is one that we find across all media. Also, I don’t see fault in the idea that any body type could be seen as sexually desirable. For a long time, only skinny body types were seen in media as sexually desirable. So, to suggest that other body types are desirable as well does not strike me as problematic.

Continuing on to the line, “You know I won’t be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll / So if that’s what you’re into then go ahead and move along.” Trout asserts, “At what point did “body positivity” become, or need to become, yet another method to police each other’s bodies? If a woman has breast implants, does that somehow lower her worth? This is just another way in which the fatcceptable movement tries to define who is and isn’t a ‘real’ woman.” Sure, we should not police people’s bodies, but hasn’t there been a large movement talking about the dangers of Barbies? When little girls see a Barbie doll as beautiful and begin to think of its body as the “better” body type, they see themselves as less. And when they see themselves as less, they mentally feel inferior and possibly insecure. Insecurities lead to serious problems in girls: eating disorders, depression, and other mental illnesses. Encouraging girls and women to see Barbie dolls as less desirable would make girls…eat a burger instead of a salad? In all seriousness, the mental impact on girls hearing in a single song that larger bodies are beautiful, too, simply does not have the same effect as girls seeing and hearing throughout popular culture that skinnier bodies are more beautiful.

Finally, the line that one could consider to be the most questionable: “I’m bringing booty back / Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that / No I’m just playing I know you think you’re fat / but I’m here to tell ya every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top.”

Firstly, I do not agree with using “skinny bitches” in a lyric because it does place all women of a certain size into one category as if every woman is also a “bitch” (a term that, on its own, garners negative attention for its misogynistic nature). Still, in the context of the song and for the sake of song writing technique, the portion of a lyric that sticks in the minds of most listeners is the last. So, in this case: “every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top.” That line applies to all women with no exceptions.

So, while I understand why the critic would find fault in the song (their argument is well thought out and well written), I think their approach might be too critical. I think we should embrace a song that makes “normal” and plus-sized women feel beautiful, and appreciate the song for its good messages. Because really, how harmful are Meghan Trainor’s lyrics in a sea of lyrics such as “she got a big booty so I call her big booty.” I’ve heard girls sing along to that song at parties on Colby’s campus without questioning the lyrics. I did read one thing on which Jenny Trout and I can agree: “Just because we like something doesn’t mean it’s above reproach. We should practice turning a critical eye on the media we consume, as it gives us a chance to view our own thoughts through the lens of pop culture.” So although I see her points about “All About that Bass,” I will not stop singing and dancing in my car like a fool when it comes on the radio for the tenth time in an hour (which we all know it will).

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