Saturday, November 22, 2014

All About "All About That Bass"

Meghan Trainor’s new single, “All About that Bass,” is flooding the airwaves with what Billboard Magazine describes as a “message of self-acceptance.” In an interview with Billboard, Trainor explains,
 
When I got my record deal…I was like, perfect, I have the opportunity to say something to the world. I'll take it. This is the best message I could say.
 
So what is her message? The first verse sums it up nicely:
 
Yeah, it's pretty clear, I ain't no size two
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
 
If this is what our society has come to perceive as a pro-woman message, we are in a sorry state. I hope this is already clear to you, but just in case it's not, let me step you through the logic.
 
The world feeds women a message which goes something like this:  
 
You must be skinny, because you have value only as an object of sexual gratification for men.
 
Trainor’s response to this message goes something like this:
 
No! You don’t have to be skinny, because even if you are not a size two, you can still be an object of sexual gratification for men.
 
Obviously, this response only reinforces the fundamental assertion that the value of a woman is dependent on her ability to sexually gratify men.
 
Note that Trainor realizes that society has placed an expectation on her. As a woman, she has a role to fulfill. She is “supposed to” shake it for all the boys. Furthermore, she feels good about herself precisely because she is able to satisfy that expectation.
 
But what the song smoothly glosses over is the fact that not every girl is going to be able to satisfy society’s expectations. Sure, Trainor has made the obvious point that you do not have to be pencil-thin to be attractive, but it certainly does not follow from this that everyone is attractive. What does Trainor’s “message of self-acceptance” hold for the girl who is not being chased by “all the boys” – or any of the boys? Can such a girl look in the mirror and walk away happy?
 
I appreciate that Trainor has attempted to respond to the poisonous lie that our world feeds women, but I think her response does more harm than good. A much better response would go something like this:
 
You don’t have to be skinny, because your value does not depend on your appearance. Whether you are a man or a woman, your value is sourced in the unconditional love which God has for you.

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