By EMILY CHEN
Meghan Trainor’s infectiously catchy anthem “All About That Bass,” now on its second week as the number one song, has skyrocketed to the top of Billboards “Hot 100” chart of songs and has generated plenty of controversy. Trainor’s song promotes positive body image and the idea of being comfortable in your own skin with lyrics such as “If you got beauty, beauty, just raise ‘em up/ ‘Cause every inch of you is perfect/ From the bottom to the top.”
Some argue that the artist trivializes body image and incorrectly approaches the topic of body image, but I disagree. People have the right to freedom of expression through different media, and the problem with Trainor’s message is not its form, but rather how the message itself is communicated. While Trainor’s song reaches out to a certain demographic, it conversely polarizes another when she uses profane language towards skinnier people.
While the song generally encourages people to be confident with their bodies, the slur towards skinny girls contradicts the message that the song tries to communicate. Although Trainor excuses her comment in the following line by saying that she was “just playing,” the public has already torn apart the song. Many say that Trainor is engaging in the opposite of fat-shaming: “skinny-shaming,” in which one debases skinnier women through degrading language or acts. For example, the “model,” or the only lean female in the music video, is wrapped in cellophane and pushed around by the other characters.
Kayti Luu (Sr.) said, “The song is catchy, and I actually find it very relatable because growing up, and even now, people tell me that I’m ‘fat,’ and I embrace it. The overall message is positive, and that’s really all that matters to me. There is no way to please everyone—some people are going to be happy with the message this song sends, while others aren’t going to like it.”
On the opposing side, Margot Revet (Sr.) said that the song “just doesn’t send the right message. It’s like reverse fat-shaming, for sure, because it basically says that being skinny is not okay. The people in the music video bully the skinnier woman, and that visual display only strengthens the negative message of this song.”
The polarizing song is receiving both praise from fans and backlash from critics. People cannot seem to decide whether the song is promoting positive body-image or negating all possible benefits in its skinny-shaming. Others even go as far as to say that Trainor is promoting obesity by encouraging people to embrace their current bodies and “curves.”
The song directs biting phrases towards those who do not have curves, like “Yeah, it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size two/But I can shake it, shake it/Like I’m supposed to do” and “You know I won’t be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll.” I believe that Trainor’s toxic word usage unnecessarily shames people by indicating that leaner body types are undesirable. In addition, her diction also commodifies the female, as indicated when Trainor sings, “Yeah, my mama she told me don’t worry about your size/she says, “Boys like a little more booty to hold at night.” The lyrics uphold one body type as the ideal figure that men desire, which is both unrealistic and harmful. “All About That Bass” is a successful song; however, if we support a song that blatantly bashes one demographic to support another, thus debasing the sensitive issue of body image, what does that say about us as a society?
Ultimately, I believe that Trainor has a valid point when speaking out for those who are weightier. We live in an image-centered and superficial world that sets unattainable standards, and our society does subconsciously and consistently shame those who are heavier-set.
However, I do not think that Trainor approached the issue correctly, because she did not need to put everyone else down in the pursuit to find a voice for the plus-sized community. Do I think that Trainor is right for wanting to promote and raise awareness to a different side of the body image debate? Of course. Do I think that the artist made the correct choices when writing the lyrics and putting together the visual representation of the song? Absolutely not.