“All About That Bass”: a positive body image anthem

September 18, 2014 — by Helen Wong

Meghan Trainor’s new breakout single, “All About That Bass,” promotes positive body image. The singer is curvaceous and she knows it — Trainor is confident and unapologetic in embracing her plus-size physique. What’s wrong with that?

It’s got an addictive, bouncy beat and young Amy Winehouse-esque vocals. It’s pop with a touch of smooth rock, making for a track that’s hard to get tired of hearing. It’s the center of a storm of controversy and criticism that is, for the most part, unfounded and unfair.

Meghan Trainor’s new breakout single, “All About That Bass,” promotes positive body image. The singer is curvaceous and she knows it — Trainor is confident and unapologetic in embracing her plus-size physique. What’s wrong with that?

Nothing. The obsession with being stick-skinny is pervasive in pop culture, and the fight against it is only just starting. Trainor’s song is an excellent war anthem against a serious issue that has spawned everything from bulimia to suicide.

If “All About That Bass” can potentially help both girls and guys feel more comfortable with how they look, it ought to be played everywhere. Trainor may be a lady, but a 420-pound man named Sione Kelepi is featured in the music video, and his dance game is very, very strong.

And yet, Trainor has been called a number of insulting slurs, the least of which includes “fat, jealous cow” and the worst of which can’t be printed in the paper. The song, despite having reached over 26 million views on Vevo and having topped the iTunes pop charts, is still drawing ire. People are accusing Trainor of “skinny shaming” and exacerbating the body image problem.

Haters cherry-pick the song lyrics to fit their agendas against her without understanding the context. A particular couplet of lyrics has drawn the most flack: “I’m bringing booty back/Go ahead and tell them skinny b-tches that.”

Sure, it sounds awful by itself. But the next few lines are, “I know you think you’re fat/But I’m here to tell you every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top.” Clearly her message is not to make fun of skinny people, but to encourage them to accept the way the look, regardless of their body types.

The truth is that Trainor’s message should have hit popular media a long time ago. Skinny shaming has absolutely nothing on fat shaming — popular media spews an endless reel of calorie counting and weight loss methods, and nothing much on accepting your weight.

It’s not often that motivational tracks reach the Top 40, but the pattern is changing. Trainor’s sitting at the top right now, and fellow motivational singer Mary Lambert, with her songs “Secrets” and “Same Love,” hitting the charts with some of the realest lyrics out there.

The shift toward breaking down unrealistic beauty and weight loss standards is a juggernaut with artists such as Colbie Caillat, John Legend and Sara Bareilles joining in, and it shouldn’t stop. People ought to have confidence in themselves and their appearance, and fighting back against media messages that routinely blast the virtues of weight loss is a good cause for a crusade.

If you’ve got curves, rock them. If you don’t, that’s fine too. Just don’t try and drag down “All About That Bass,” because it’s preaching a message everyone needs to hear. 

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