You’ve probably found yourself singing along to Meghan Trainor’s newest song “All About That Bass.” It’s catchy and fun and the perfect summer jam to belt out with the windows down and the wind whipping in your hair. There’s a reason, after all, that the song is the No. 1 digital song in the U.S. right now.
But the song isn’t just fun — the 20-year-old’s bubblegum pop hit is meant to be an anthem for body positivity.
Meghan Trainor’s video for “All About That Bass” features the singer among beautiful, diverse women, all of whom are plus-size and even a few who are women of color. It’s refreshing to see this kind of representation in a music video. When was the last time you saw a plus-size woman of color in a video when she didn’t have to be there?
And the song itself is meant to celebrate fat and chubby women. The song starts,
Yeah, it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size two
But I can shake it, shake it
Like I’m supposed to do
The message is clear: even though Trainor isn’t a perfect, thin woman, she’s still beautiful (and sexy!). In an interview with the New York Post, Trainor said, “I went to a show in Kansas and I met some girls who came up me. They said the song was inspirational and it made them feel pretty. It made me tear up!”
Indeed, that seems to be the song’s purpose. Trainor wants young girls to feel beautiful and to know that the women we see in magazines, on billboards, and in most music videos aren’t necessarily realistic beauty standards. Her song states,
I see the magazine, workin’ that Photoshop
We know that shit ain’t real
And it’s a startling reminder that yeah, as we flip through magazines like Vogue and Glamour, those images aren’t real, and we shouldn’t be trying to emulate them.
It’s not just fat women Trainor seeks to uplift, either. Though her song is explicitly about plus-size girls, she also specifically reaches out to all women, singing,
If you got beauty beauty, just raise ’em up
Cause every inch of you is perfect
From the bottom to the top
In a society where everyone is trying to lose weight, hide their so-called flaws, and present the facade of perfection, thinking of yourself as “perfect” just the way you are — freckles, double-chins, knobby knees, pimples, and all — is a radical idea.
But it’s needed. So, so needed.
To be fair, Trainor’s song itself isn’t the perfect body anthem. In fact, there are a few issues with it, including the way she frames beauty. She sings about finding herself beautiful because guys find her attractive, which is not how we should think. She sings,
Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase
And all the right junk in all the right places
[My mama] says boys like a little more booty to hold at night
In reality, it doesn’t matter what boys or men view as beautiful. It doesn’t matter if boys think we’ve got “junk in all the right places” or if they like “a little more booty to hold at night.” What men and boys think about us doesn’t matter, period. Our beauty exists independent from how men view us at all. Screw boys and what they think; young girls should embrace their beauty for themselves.
Additionally, Trainor’s song also sometimes perpetuates the “thin vs. fat” mentality. The idea that boys prefer fat girls, or that there is a such thing as having “junk” in all the right places can be alienating to thin women. It’s similar to that statement that “real women have curves.” (No, they don’t; some women have curves, and some don’t.) And there’s certainly no need to refer to thin women as “skinny bitches,” as she does later in the song when she sings,
Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that
No I’m just playing I know you think you’re fat
But I’m here to tell ya
Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top
It’s good that Trainor backs down from “skinny bitches” (she follows it up by saying she’s “just playing”) — but there’s no real need to call thin women out in the first place. It just further perpetuates this idea that in order for fat women to rise up and find themselves beautiful, thin women must be torn down. That’s just not true.
However, even if Trainor isn’t entirely eloquent in that point, she does get it; she recognizes that thin women, too, think they’re fat, and they’re also victims of unrealistic beauty standards, even if their bodies may technically be more accepted by society.
While “All About That Bass” is far from a perfect song and music video, it’s better than what we’ve had. We can ask for more (a song that more sensitive to the struggles of all women, a song that doesn’t qualify a woman’s beauty by what men think), while still thinking this song is catchy as hell and a wonderful change from the norm. And, as a fat woman, I’ll admit it: it’s nice for fat/chubby/curvy girls to have an anthem.
I imagine myself as a young teenager hearing this song. I was fat, I was lonely, I was sad, and I’d have done anything to have been told I was beautiful as I was, to have seen someone like me reflected in a music video. If this song impacts even one girl the way it would have impacted me as a teenager, I think it’s an enormous success. “All About That Bass” is a song that tells young girls and women to embrace their beauty and their sexuality. And, honestly? Anything that lifts up young girls is okay by me.