moving into cry tired territory.
I was first showed the song. “All About That Bass” by a male friend of mine. My initial reaction was that it was a poppy, bounce-along kind of song, but also something fairly problematic & to see it, all you really have to do is listen.
After the super-catchy chorus that’s been stuck in all of our heads, Trainor starts:
"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
And all the right junk in all the right places”
The first issue is that a woman is “supposed to” shake it, it being their ass, breasts, & bodies in general. Her body being the one that all the boys chase. This tells us two things. First off, according to Trainor, our bodies are worth loving — but only if we have all the right junk in all the right places & men find us appealing. Secondly, we should also shake it for those men. Our bodies are not about us, they are about them. These lyrics are basically implying that our bodies are not for us, but for the pleasure of men. The worth of our body is calculated by the number of how many men covet it. Damn. I never knew.
Also, what are the “right” places to have junk? Expecting most women to just be able to gain weight only in their hips, ass, & breasts while keeping flat tummies is just a bit ridiculous & sets women up to try to meet a standard that maybe their body cannot achieve or maintain for whatever reason.
To be fair, the next several lines do get us back on track for both feminism & body positivity:
"I see the magazine workin’ that Photoshop
We know that shit ain’t real
C’mon now, make it stop
If you got beauty building, just raise ‘em up
‘Cause every inch of you is perfect
From the bottom to the top”
What this does is outline the ridiculous beauty standards women feel they need to live up to while also calling for change & reassuring the listeners that they are awesome just the way they are. If only the whole song was like this, then it could be a fantastic anthem for feminism & true body positivity.
Unfortunately, Trainor goes forward only to dig herself deeper into the problematic pit that she was just beginning to climb out of in that second verse:
"Yeah, my mama she told me don’t worry about your size
She says, ‘Boys like a little more booty to hold tonight.’
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”
The first line starts the verse out with some feel-good female empowerment, but then it again makes our asses & our bodies more about what men want than about what we want. This song isn’t saying “Love yourself because your self-worth isn’t defined by men.” It’s saying the exact opposite & then bashes “stick figures” & dismisses anyone who finds them attractive. There is no true body positivity movement if we as women are pitting ourselves against each other within that movement by 1. insulting each other & by 2. arguing about what men like more when it comes to the female form. Not all men like girls sizes 0-6, not all men prefer girls to be a size 8-14, & not all men are predominantly attracted to women who are a size 16 & above. If you look past societal standards, personal tastes vary & there’s lots of someone’s out there who are going to be into how you look — but it is that focus on what men “want” that is detrimental to us. There should be less focus on women as sexual objects & more focus on us being people — intelligent, capable, multi-faceted people whose self-worth cannot be defined merely by how “hot” some men might think we are or aren’t.
"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.”
When trainer says “skinny bitches”, you can’t help to think that she’s not really joking. Especially once you have listened to the lyrics in other parts of the song where she shames bodies that are different from hers. Then she tells us that all women think they’re fat, but what about the women that don’t think they are fat or don’t care either way? Why are we painting those girls as nonexistent? As if caring about your weight is a natural (key word: natural) part of womanhood. It ends nice though, again adding in a message to reassure & empower those of us who struggle with low self-esteem — but only those of us who are skinny & think we are fat &/or have a body similar to Trainor’s body.
Don’t get me wrong, this song isn’t all bad in content, but it isn’t a gleaming example of feminism or body positivity that includes rather than excludes. The problem with this song is that it contradicts itself, uplifts only to then bring down.
What about those women who are one of those “stick figures” & knows they are thin — but still aren’t happy with how they look (maybe a woman who gets teased for having smaller breasts)? What happens when a woman is larger than Trainor, who, as she states, has the type of body boys prefer & that her love for her body comes from how much men love it? If men only prefer her type of body & if the worth of our body is determined by how many men desire that body, where does that leave the rest of us?
Any girl without an hourglass shape is basically being excluded from the self-love party when you actually decode what these lyrics are telling us. But how about we do something different? How about we start embracing all sizes (without putting down one or more types of bodies to lift up another) & even more importantly, how about we make it clear to young women & all women that it really doesn’t matter how many guys want to fuck them (us), that it doesn’t matter if they (we) “shake it, shake it”, or if they (we) have junk or not in wherever places society has deemed it now acceptable to have it in, that they are worth so much more than how they look & how many men desire them for it? How about it?
Her office is somewhere
off the shore of my frontal lobe,
just east of my missing brain
I was a patchwork of stains,
like flesh and strawberry jam
Picked raw and just shy of dead,
I had dirt under my nails
that had been there for decades
She pulled up loose floorboards
and plucked secrets like weeds;
each one more petulant than the last
I told her fairy tales and limericks
about a little girl who wore
the big bad wolf’s bite marks
like warpaint into the sunset
But this story didn’t have a hero
and she never reaped what she sowed
Do you believe dreams are just dreams? Or are they your subconscious trying to tell you something you already know?