Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Why "I'm All About that Bass," no apologies



It's not surprising that Meghan Trainor's anthem, written on a whim and performed by the songwriter herself because other pop stars didn't want to touch it, has become a big hit.  It's fun, it has a totally different sound than anything else on the radio right now, and the bubble-gum-retro video is hilarious.

It's also not surprising that it is taking some criticism for being anti-feminist because it talks about attractiveness in terms of men's preferences, or for not celebrating all body types equally because it uses the phrase "skinny bitches" (even if she says she's "just playing" and wants all women to think they're perfect).

I agree that it would be nice if someone wrote a pop song saying that all women are beautiful, that beauty isn't the only thing that matters anyway, and that women have more important things to do than be decorative. Go ahead, write it. I will buy the single on iTunes.


In the meantime, go ahead and Google "promoting obesity." Then Google "Meghan Trainor promoting obesity." In a world where perfectly lovely (and quite thin, by human standards if not by Hollywood standards) women like Jennifer Lawrence (or Meghan Trainor herself) are expected to defend themselves for appearing in public without apologizing for not losing 20 more pounds, I think an anthem celebrating a curvy body type is okay. It's interesting that Trainor recorded it herself because other artists wouldn't want it. Just recently it made #1 on the Billboard list.

It didn't strike a nerve and serve a need, it wouldn't be such a breakaway hit. I think that songs like this take flack because they are swimming upstream in a world where it really is not okay to admit you like your body if it doesn't fit a narrow "ideal."

8 comments:

  1. I think Bruno Mars got pretty close with "Just the Way You Are" but other than that I can't really think of a song that fits your description of all women being beautiful. And that's pretty sad.

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    1. There is something more compelling about celebrating one person or body type than a general, "everyone is wonderful" message, I think. Everyone wants to feel chosen and valued individually and not just as part of the collective.

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  2. Thank you... I love this song and kept having this weird feeling that for some reason I wasn't suppose to... oh! the social pressure! You are so right! I'm all about that bass too! :D

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    1. When I heard the criticisms, I mostly thought, "lighten up, Francis." (Gratuitous Bill Murray reference).

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  3. Is "All About That Bass" a feminist anthem celebrating all women and all body types equally? Nope.

    Is it a cathartic release for those of us who have seen ourselves sidelined or even ridiculed by the mainstream? Yep. (Full disclosure: Including myself in "us" here is relative. I'm maintaining a ~140-pound loss, currently wear size 8 or 10 depending on the item and the designer—my former self might dismiss my current self as a "skinny bitch" who has no claim on this song, but I'm definitely no size 2.)

    Is it a catchy, fun tune? Yep.

    Does my not-quite-2-year-old son, who before never showed any interest in anything TV-related, want to watch this video on constant repeat? Yep.

    Oh, and before there was Meghan Trainor, there was Candye Kane:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hx3X-vGOkQ0

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    1. Loved the way you put my feelings about the song into words.

      Even when I was smaller, I had a bubble butt -- it's fun to be told that's a good thing.

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  4. I've gone back and forth on whether or not I "should" like the song (laughing out loud at myself for that one) so thank you for this. I also love the comments, especially lauramich's. Fact is, not every one is going to love every song. I bristled a bit at the "Boys like a little more booty to hold at night" line too, but in the end, some guys do and some guys don't and yes, as women it's okay to like it when guys like our booties. That said, I am also seriously appreciative of the conversation that is happening right now, thanks to the younger generation(s), around feminism, rape, etc. etc.

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    1. I do like the more open conversations, and I'm glad to see people talking more constructively about issues like domestic violence (instead of "why did she stay," "why did the NFL tolerate this?"). I'm glad if I gave you a sense of being OK to like what is a very fun, light, harmless song (IMHO). After all, "Girls, they wanna have fun!"

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"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07