I know, I know. Meghan Trainor’s new song All About That Bass isn’t the perfect body-loving anthem we’ve been waiting for. It’s problematic, and somewhat exclusionary, and still heavily invested in the power of the male gaze.
I only had to hear All About That Bass once and I was hooked. Within an hour I had it playing on repeat, bopping my head to the cutesy beat and belting out the chorus like I was Meghan herself. I had read the lyrics and knew already that the song had issues, but I shrugged my misgivings off as best as I could. After all, saying that you are glad to be larger is a fairly controversial statement, and hearing it declared over the radio is a pretty big deal.
And although I love and appreciate the critiques that have been written about the song, I think that this may be a time to put our fuzzy feminist glasses on. Not to ignore the problems in the song, but to keep them in mind, think them over, and then turn up the volume.
Because, after all, aren’t we all All About That Bass? Society’s beauty standards are not virtually impossible–they are actually impossible, actually completely unattainable. Even the people we claim represent the pinnacle of beauty are not good enough until they have been turned into cartoon versions of themselves. All of us–models included–can only ever hope to be beautiful through the magic of Photoshop. That is, if we hold ourselves to the bizarre standards set by society.
Which is why I would like to propose a more radical reading of Meghan Trainor’s addictive tune. Despite its problematic aspects, at its heart the song is about loving yourself–not in spite of the physical characteristics that society describes as flaws, but because of them. Being All About That Bass is being all about your cellulite; all about your wrinkly forehead; all about your bald or patchy or overwhelmingly thick hair. It is being all about your dark or light or splotchy or scarred skin. It is being all about your huge thighs. Your bony hips. The shape of your nose. It is being all about the ways your body moves or doesn’t move. Being All About That Bass is being all about the details that form your body, especially the ones that society deems ugly, or shameful, or undesireable.
Because after all, and as Meghan herself says she’s here to tell us: Every inch of you is perfect, from the bottom to the top.