Sometimes I come late to the party on song lyrics. As a kid, there were some humorous misunderstandings of lyrics…wrapped up like a douche? don’t fear the reefer? (and I love my husband’s just like a one-winged dove…) It can make for an interesting twist to a song, for sure.
While the internet has certainly made it easier to find the lyrics, the meanings can still take me a while, too. Of course, songs—like any other art—can have various interpretations, but sometimes they’re pretty obvious (bang bang into the room anyone?) Occasionally I hear a song one way, though, and then on the umpteenth hearing of it, something hits me differently.
Such is the case with Meghan Trainor’s song, “All About That Bass.”
When the song came out, I loved it right away. For one, my husband is a bass player—and I AM all about That bass. And of course the song’s music is a whole lotta fun. But I also loved the message of supporting bodies with a little more “bass” on them, too. I’m in favor of anything that helps push back on the ridiculously intense message to girls and women to be stick thin—and not because I have my own “bass”—but because it simply needs to stop. Body image is a sore spot for countless women. Too many girls are starving themselves or sticking their fingers down their throats in an attempt to be thin, and the media continues perpetuating that “thin is in.” And as a society, we just seem to go along for the ride…because if it wasn’t working, the media wouldn’t keep pounding it so hard.
Recently my husband made “That Bass” his ringtone, so it’s been a bit of an earworm to me of late. And it was with a recent ring of his phone that something dawned on me. (I told you I can be slow.)
The one lyric I already knew I wasn’t a fan of was Trainor’s reference to the “skinny bitches.” After all, if we’re talking about accepting different body types, then it’s got to go both ways. Though I have never, ever, ever had the problem of being “too skinny” (or any kind of skinny at all), I know that some women do indeed have a hard time—for various reasons, including simple genetics—being what is considered average weight. And getting teased for being skinny hurts just as much as getting teased for being heavy. (This is another great instance where women should be kinder to one another for everyone’s sake.)
But hearing the song bubble up from my husband’s phone triggered a realization about another lyric from the song. When I heard the line “momma she told me ‘don’t worry about your size.’ She says boys like a little more booty to hold at night,” I thought WAIT! The message is still about what the boys like. Other lyrics reinforce that body acceptance is still “all about the men”:
Yeah it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size two
But I can shake it, shake it like I’m supposed to do
‘Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase
All the right junk in all the right places
I may be a little slow on the uptake, but once I really gave the song a bit more than a passing thought, I couldn’t help but see that the song is still sending the message that a woman’s body is defined, at least in part, by a man’s approval.
And that’s not okay.
Should women want to be healthy and fit—to be our best selves physically? Of course. But not because it’s what the boys like. We should want it for ourselves. And the goal shouldn’t be some unrealistic ideal created by Disney and Calvin Klein, but one where you simply feel good in your own skin.
And while the message of guys saying “more is okay by us” helps to battle against the pressure to be, as Trainor says, a “stick-figure, silicone Barbie doll,” the message needs to go further. Far enough that we are who we are because WE like us as we are.
Sometimes when I write a post and my husband reads it, he’ll let me know that it didn’t really feel like the intended audience included my male readers—which is probably the case here. HOWEVER…I hope you guys don’t feel that way because you are part of the solution.
As the mom of a boy, one of my goals is to raise him knowing the true value of women—and that value doesn’t reside in our bodies. I want him to see gender equality as something that men should care deeply about, too—to understand it as a goal for all humanity because it is an inherent right for all.
So…I guess I’m not all about that bass after all.
Though I still enjoy the song, its message falls short. “Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top”…well…no, no—it’s not. There’s no such thing. And you’re still amazing.