I read an interesting article back in the summer time when Meghan Trainor’s ‘All About That Bass’ was everywhere at all times, invading every single radio station, and even Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. The article deconstructed the song and raised a number of interesting points. It’s a good read, and one that got me thinking. You can find the full article here, and see my brief discussion of it below, with my take on things.
From me, the most interesting and impactful discussion in this article centres around the lyrics’ incessant need to remind us that, ultimately, what we’re after is male approval. It’s the notion that everything that we do, what we wear, and how we act revolves around capturing the attention of men so we can live happily ever after with said man.
This all hearkens back Naomi Wolf’s discussion in The Beauty Myth, which essentially states that society teaches women to measure themselves in terms of physical appearance while also prizing relationships with men, whom they presumably attract with their beauty. To go further, Wolf stresses that this notion of beauty therefore reduces women down to objects, objects that are to be possessed by men. I could take this into a discussion on the male gaze, but I’ll save that for anther day.
So lets start off here:
‘Yeah, it’s clear, I ain’t no size two/ but I can shake it, shake it, like I’m supposed to do’
What does that even mean? Shake it like you’re supposed to do?! Who is telling you to shake it? And why are you listening? And does the fact that your waist measures more than 35 inches really get in the way of you shaking it? This is troublesome to me.
She follows that up with
‘something something, and all the right junk in all the right places’
Which, is essentially her contradicting the ‘every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top’ lyrics that pepper the entire song. Clearly there seems to be right places and wrong places to have junk. Sorry, not body positive.
And before I go on too long, probably the most problematic lyric for me:
‘Yeah, my mama she told me don’t worry about your size/She says boys like a little more booty to hold at night’
WHY DOES YOUR WORTH HAVE TO COME FROM IF A MAN LIKES YOU OR NOT?! phew, sorry. Just got a little too excited there. If we tell women that they are beautiful from within, and if we tell them to find value in themselves, how dare we then tell them that the worth only actually counts if that inner beauty is verified by a male.
I feel that her lyrics also perpetuates this notion that in order to be a ‘good female’ we must shame our bodies, because heaven forbid we go out there and say that we look great, especially to other women. We’re supposed to never be good enough, always striving to perfect something, and always, always looking to beautify. But I’m calling BS.
Now that I’ve ranted and raved, here is what that song could have been. When you’re listening to this version consider who has the agency and notice that beauty is never once related back to what a man has to say about it.