Anyone who owns a car knows, and I mean knows, every song that is popular now, knows how often that song is played and can probably guess what song is coming up. As the summer comes to an end, one of the top songs on the Pop channel is All About That Bass, by Meghan Trainor. To me, this is a song that is an important step forward in body positive media. While it is not perfect, for a 3 minute and 10 second song written by a 20 year old, it touches upon important issues regarding body image in both the lyrics and the video.
This song is catchy, fun and also body positive, what more can you ask for in a widely commercialized song? Let’s look at this song in two ways, via the lyrics and the video.
Lyrically, this song is specifically targeted to girls, especially girls who are over a size two. Meghan does a phenomenal job of smashing the idea of a size determining a girls’ sexual appeal, her confidence and her self-love. The lyrics “’Cause every inch of you is perfect/ From the bottom to the top” puts it quite neatly, no matter your size, you should love yourself. In a society where most of the models are size negative, and many of the high profile celebrities and commercials feature women who are struggling to become skinnier, this message is desperately needed.
Another empowering lyric is “so if that’s (referring to a stick figure) what you’re into then go ahead and move along”. This is a powerful statement in dating culture, where the misconception built by the movie, music and commercial industry that the only way to “hold on to a man” is to have a “rocking body” has had a significant effect on adolescent youth. This lyric kicks that notion to the curb. It asserts in a very unapologetic and woman empowering way that ‘I don’t need to change myself to find a man, when the person who appreciates and loves me for the way I am comes along, that is a person worth giving a chance.’. What I take from this lyric is empowering women’s choice and not conforming to issues such as male attraction, media or social pressures to (literally) fit in.
Obviously, nothing is perfect. At first I put hope that the lyrics against “them skinny bitches” and her quick statement afterwards “No I’m just playing. I know you think you’re fat…but…every inch of you is perfect…” would be enough to stop any “skinny” shaming. A friend pointed out that that is not necessarily enough, and sited the “bass and treble” metaphor as distinctly not all female empowering. Despite this, I think this can be taken as a challenge to make an even more all encompassing and all female empowering song, instead of just another body type shaming song.
On the video, there are two key, empowering images. One part that struck me was that there were dancers who were both white and black. As a biracial person, I am extremely aware of who is chosen to be represented in a video, TV show or movie. I think that this visual of more than one race opens the door to not only an all body positive, but a body empowerment for all types and all races/ethnicities. Finally, there is a guy (Vine celeb Sione) featured in the video doing some awesome (and I mean f***ing amazing) dancing. His presence opens the door to this song, while lyrically targeted to girls, being open to guys and their body positive empowerment as well.
Music is a very rampant, pervasive and powerful tool in society. It has the power to lift, dampen or dispel moods and the ability to move masses. Therefore, any way that moves people towards a healthy idea of themselves should be important. Rock on Meghan!