“All About That Bass” is a cute tune by 20 year-old Meghan Trainor : poppy, infectious and full of feel-good vibes. In the song, Trainor encourages bigger women to embrace their curves and see themselves as beautiful, despite the constant societal messages telling them otherwise.
Amidst all of the voices that constantly tell women to shrink their waist sizes, "All About That Bass" seems like a breath of fresh air for women of all body types. The music video shows Trainor as a pretty, playful and confident woman that is proud of her body and her femininity.
The song may be catchy and well-intentioned; however, it sends a very problematic message that is important to highlight. All of the ‘body positivity’ talked about in the song is still framed in the views of the ever-present male gaze. “My momma she told me don’t worry about your size. She says ‘boys like a little more booty to hold at night.’” Trainor says throughout the song that men love her for her curves and that she won’t deal with men who want a superficial, plastic woman.
“All About That Bass” is not the first pop song to tell young women and girls that the only real value of their bodies is how men perceive them. “What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction, “Just the Way You Are” and “Treasure” by Bruno Mars are just some examples of pop hits that require the man to define a woman’s beauty for her. “Men love curvy women.” “Guys love skinny girls.” These back and forth arguments are unhealthy and put down other women. Girls shouldn't have to justify their body types by pointing to what men find attractive. Women also have various sexualities that should not have to be constrained by heteronormativity or a stereotypical view of what femininity should be.
Just as women come in all different sizes, men too have all different preferences when it comes to women. Stereotyping and generalizing is insulting to both genders. And the men that are consistently fixated on a particular body type or body part above all else are probably not men you want to be that involved with in the first place.
I noticed in my mid-teens that I was one of the few girls in my peer group that was comfortable with her body. It took me a lot of time to develop my self-esteem, but body image was usually low on my long list of concerns. It seemed no matter their size, shape or color, girls I knew had some hang-up over their appearance, to the point where it severely impacted their self-confidence. Starting at younger and younger ages — before they even mature into adult bodies — girls learn from the adult world to fixate on their looks and hate their bodies. They are learning that their appearance is more important than their character, accomplishments and dreams.
It is silly to expect pop culture to become anything close to perfect. Every day we are bombarded with problematic images that reinforce the inequalities of our communities. But as we try to inspire girls and women to feel confident in their own skin through the media, we must also remember to teach them that they don’t owe men (or society) prettiness. Basing your entire concept of self-worth on someone else’s ideals will never make you happy or help you love the body you are in.
Encouraging women to obsess over their looks is just another societal attempt to keep them in line and keep the American consumer culture booming. There are so many more valuable traits and strengths that women have. We have much more to contribute to the world than just a dress size. This is the real type of empowerment we need to be passing on to the next generation of girls, not an idea of value based on the male lens.
Katiera Sordjan is a College junior from New York. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. "The Melting Pot" appears every Thursday.Comments powered by Disqus
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