"All About That Bass": Empowering or Problematic?

On Monday I posted that I'm loving Megan Trainor's first single, All About That Bass. Since then, I've been reading what others in the body positive and feminist community think about it. So I thought maybe I'd throw my own hat into the ring and discuss what I find empowering about the song, and what I consider problematic.

Here goes.

Yeah, it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size two

But just look at Megan in the video. She's not fat. She's within the realm of what society deems acceptable. She's probably a size 4 or 6, even. She has no idea how hard it is to be "unacceptable", to be told by strangers that she's going to die if she eats another cheeseburger, to sob in a department store dressing room because even the largest clothes there won't fit her. 


Then again... "Skinny shaming" is not the same as fat shaming. One results in a few minutes of hurt feelings; the other is a single aspect of the systematic oppression fat people face every single day.

So I agree with those who say 'Bass' isn't so much an anthem for fat girls as it is for what Jenny Trout has dubbed "the fatcepptable movement".

But... At least we're moving in the right direction. Excluding fat girls and putting down skinny girls is definitely not where I want society to be, but with catchy, somewhat empowering, somewhat problematic songs like 'Bass' and Nicki Minaj's 'Anaconda', at least we're getting closer to where we should be.

The other major problem I see with this song is the emphasis on how boys feel about curves. 

"Yeah, my mama she told me don’t worry about your size / She says boys like a little more booty to hold at night".

Part of me snarks, 'thank God! Boys like your booty! Then I guess your body is acceptable'. But is it wrong to care what others think of your body? No. Part of why I love my body is because I know it's fun to touch and others find me attractive. But that's just part of why I love my body. That's the key. So what's problematic isn't that Megan mentions that boys will appreciate her booty; it's that she seems focused on the male gaze, rather than what she loves about how she looks. 

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 above line could go either way; she can 'shake it, shake it' like boys expect her to, or how she feels she's 'supposed to do'. And is she glad that boys feel she has 'all the right junk in all the right places'? Or is that how she feels about herself?

The main aspect of the video itself, that I find could be empowering or problematic (or both) is the dancers. There's one dancer who's fat. Is he highlighted because being fat is 'perfect from the bottom to the top'? Or are he, and the skinny girls in the video, too fat and too thin, respectively, and in the video to demonstrate that only Megan Trainor-sized people are acceptable?

All of that being said, the one lyric that really sticks with me is this one:

If you got beauty beauty, just raise ‘em up
Cause every inch of you is perfect
From the bottom to the top

Doesn't that say something?

To conclude: 'All About That Bass" is somewhat empowering, somewhat problematic, and catchy as fuck. I can't wait to hear Megan Trainor's future releases-- and I hope they'll be just as catchy, but far less problematic than this one.

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