Food for Thought in "All About That Bass"
Photos courtesy of Epic Records
The new song you can't escape is called "All About That Bass," and sounds nothing like its title. You won't be hearing it in the DJ's club mix or slow, loud and banging in the streets. But you might hear it if Taylor Swift and Adele ever square off in a celebrity death match.
The song is a lot of things, but the one that truly matters is it's a megahit for newcomer Meghan Trainor. Saying it's catchy is like saying the ebola virus is deadly. Sure, one or two people may be able to stop humming it after a listen, but they'll need intensive treatment in an American hospital overseen by the CDC to do it.
Trainor's voice has a sweet country twang, which belies the fact that she grew up in Massachusetts. Girl's got some blue-eyed soul, too. It might be the whole "Bass" and "Super Bass" connection, but does she sound a little like Nicki Minaj at times?
From the "All About That Bass" videoAs her way-fashionable attire in the "Bass" video indicates, Trainor is a student of music that goes back decades, to the doo-wop 1950s. She professes Frank Sinatra is one of her inspirations. She's 20 years old, people. Some kids her age don't even know who Harry Connick, Jr. is.
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The song's video is a bit of wink-wink fun and will soon join the gospels of "Psy-entology," my made-up religion for the Internet's most revered videos. But unlike "Gangnam Style" or Rebecca Black's "Friday," this song is saying something and people clearly are getting a message.
"Yeah, it's pretty clear, I ain't no size two/ But I can shake it, shake it, like I'm supposed to do..." are the first lines of consequence in the song, so right off you know it's an anthem to empowerment and a call for positive body image.
"If you got beauty, beauty, just raise 'em up/ 'Cause every inch of you is perfect, from the bottom to the top,.." she continues. The choice is yours, as Black Sheep once sang. Either become a victim of a negative vicious cycle or own that shit.
Or do lines like "I'm bringing booty back, go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that,..." and "I won't be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll..." suggest a "you can get with this or you can get with that" challenge that pits thin against not-as-thin? All this has people now referring to her as Meghan "Personal" Trainor and comparing her outspokenness and curviness to Meghan McCain (they do look a bit alike).
I believe I learned something about myself and this song while writing this. For one, where did booty go? I see it all the time, so take down the AMBER alerts. Not to give away too much about myself, but I never noticed it had vanished. I must be drinking the wrong milk, 'cause I didn't see a MISSING label on my carton. In other words, I'm definitely a Botticelli man.
The controversy over the song is it might encourage something called "skinny shaming."
The logic, as I initially considered it, went something like this: people who are thin and literally embody what nearly every modern societal notion of "the perfect body" is alleged to be are somehow now sad because of this song. These persons, either through stringent diet and exercise or simply by the blessings of the gods of vanity, are allegedly butt-hurt because the song proposes they lack junk in the trunk.
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The thin, whose flattened abs and low BMIs are plastered on magazines and caressed by TV and movie cameras, are now somehow the lonely outsiders subject to taunts and vilification.
Riiight, I initially thought, the first thoughts of a person who has spent a lot more time being overweight than fit. Then I tapped into the modern American think tank, a.k.a. the YouTube comments section, and my fatheadedness was quickly corrected.
Of course there are hundreds of stupid comments not worth tapping out for anyone to read again, but there are some thoughtful truths, too, like these:
Skinny shaming isn't a thing? I like this song and think it's wonderful to think all bodies are beautiful...but I'm letting you know it IS a thing. People telling you to go eat a sandwich or that you look terrible in something because you don't have boobs...it's upsetting.
There is definitely skinny shaming just like there is fat shaming and slut shaming and all the shaming people have to face, and none of it is okay. Just because society likes skinny people does not mean that you can go around and tear people down. You don't know what they're feeling, you do not know how they feel about their bodies. It's not being body positive if you are shoving other people down, it's just toxic.
I will never claim to receive the amount of shaming that bigger girls do but it hurts just as much. Shaming of ANY sort is wrong, I love this song and the message but claiming that skinny shaming somehow hurts less is idiotic. Shaming hurts period.
I suppose it's only human nature for us to split into factions, to pit one vs. the other, which even I sadly was set to do when I started this blog. Maybe we can stop turning our insecurities into jabs at others when it's entirely possible to do that.
We live in a world where insane people behead others in the name of religion, where our political differences stall the system into futility and where racial differences are now obviously too powerful to ever fully conquer. Maybe we could at least give one another a pass on how genetics and our personal health and fitness habits shape us.
Maybe that's the best message that can come from "All About That Bass," whether it was the intended one or not.
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