The Food and Wine Hedonist

leave your inhibitions at the door

One Guy’s Take on “All About That Bass”

I was just going to let this song slide in the hope that it’d just get tucked away into obscurity.  However, its popularity has been screaming lately and it’s becoming unavoidable to hear, thus unavoidable for me to post on.  The song is Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass.”

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I hate the song.  Absolutely detest it.  I’ve never been much for retro-60s songs to begin with – sorry Amy Winehouse.  Not only is this one square in that genre, her voice and repetition in the chorus are so grating that every time I hear it I want to tear my spleen out.  No wait, that’s not vital.  It makes me want to tear my pancreas out.  (We need that, don’t we?)

Now if it were just about the music, I’d end this post right here.  But you I know I don’t do two paragraph posts.  Nope, this song isn’t good enough to get that popular solely on its musical merits.  It’s all over the airwaves because of its message.  Trainor is using “bass” and “treble” as metaphors for “curvy” and “skinny,” respectively, in what’s on the surface a self-esteem/ body acceptance anthem.   It’s a call for rejecting unattainable standards of beauty in the media and for young women to love themselves.

Nice thought, for sure. But…

Before I get into all that, I know it seems really odd for me to be talking about how people should be offended by this song.  Especially since I’m sure you can find a zillion examples of my being chauvinistic and objectifying in about 10 seconds.  Just type “Lohan” or “Katy Perry” in the search box.  To be fair, if you type in “Adam Levine” and “Channing Tatum” you’ll find more objectification.  But even if I were perfect and not a blogger, it’s difficult for men to talk about this subject without getting the stink-eye.  So what the hell, I’ll talk about it anway.

Let’s take this line –

I’m bringing booty back

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

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That “No, I’m just playing” is the equivalent of “Just sayin…”  It’s that passive-aggressive phrase we use when we say what’s really on our minds but try to sugarcoat it so you don’t feel bad but, in reality, we really don’t give a damn if we hurt your feelings.   All the disclaimers in the world don’t take away the fact that she just categorically referred to skinny women as “bitches” who have eating disorders.  But it’s OK, she’s just playing.

It’s not specifically mentioned in the song, but she’s just repeating that tired “Real Women have curves” message.  That message has GOT to stop.

Do you know what else real women have?  Silhouettes that look like a rectangle.  Some real women have scrawny, knock-kneed legs, too.   Some real women are in wheelchairs and other real women are in Olympic-caliber physical condition.  And yes, some real women are pumped up with silicon and have had tummy tucks.

In fact, the only fake women I know of are Siri and those blow-up sex dolls.

The things you find on amazon.com

The things you find on amazon.com

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Not that I “know” them intimately.  I’ve only seen them and don’t want to have sex with them.  And I mean no offense to those blow-up sex dolls, I just don’t want to… oh, never mind.

In other parts of the song, she mentions that she has that “boom boom that all the boys chase” and “boys like a little more booty to hold tonight.”  For a song that holds itself up as a positive body-image anthem, it sure sounds like that sense of self-worth is only achieved because men/boys prefer it.  Why should she really care what boys chase and boys like?

But now that she mentions it, let’s talk about male preference.  Many men prefer busty women.  Many prefer women with big butts.  Many prefer Asian chicks.  And, yes, many prefer skinny waifs.  You can argue all you want whether those preferences are shaped by non-real-world standards of beauty – you’d probably be right in a lot of situations.   But the fact of the matter is, it’s a preference.  I’m reminded of an early scene from the movie High Fidelity, which takes place in a Chicago record store.

Barry: What?

Dick: Nothing

Barry: No, not nothing. What’s wrong with the Righteous Brothers?

Dick: Nothing I just prefer the other one.

Barry: Bullshit!

Rob: How can it be bullshit to state a preference?

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So how is it ok to say to a man that his preference for skinny women is misguided or flat-out wrong?  I know, I know – a guy finding offense in having his preference for skinny women attacked is not going to get much sympathy.

But let’s consider something else that’s offensive – the thought that men are utter imbeciles who are completely ignorant  when it comes to what women actually look like.  Here’s a quote from the actual High Fidelity book by Nick Hornby –

Women get it wrong when they complain about media images of women. Men understand that not everyone has Bardot’s breasts, or Jamie Lee Curtis’s neck, or Cindy Crawford’s bottom, and we don’t mind at all. Obviously we’d take Kim Basinger over Phyllis Diller, just as women would take Keanu Reeves over Sergeant Bilko, but it’s not the body that’s important, it’s the level of abasement. We worked out very quickly that Bond girls were out of our league, but the realization that women don’t ever look at us the way Ursula Andress looked at Sean Connery, or even in the way that Doris Day looked at Rock Hudson, was much slower to arrive, for most of us. In my case, I’m not at all sure that it ever did.

I’m beginning to get used to the idea that Laura might be the person I spend my life with… But it’s much harder to get used to the idea that my little-boy notions of romance, of negligees and candlelit dinners at home and long, smoldering glances, had no basis in reality at all. That’s what women ought to get all steamed up about; that’s why we can’t function properly in relationships. It’s not about the cellulite or the crow’s feet. It’s the….the…. the….disrespect.

 

See, that’s the key.  What he’s saying is that it’s the portrayal of how women interact with men that’s troublesome.  It’s not that all men are idiots and don’t realize that what we see in magazines and TV are very often photoshopped and digitally changed.   And even if the pictures are not altered in any way, we know that those women in the photographs wouldn’t want anything to do with us schlubs that make up 99% of the male population.

Then again…

Maybe they would want to be involved in a relationship with us schlubs.  Maybe it’s because we’re really funny.  Or incredibly intelligent and can have engaging conversations.  Or very caring.  Or great in the kitchen.  Or are filthy rich. Whatevs.

The point is, there are an infinite number of things that humans find attractive in other humans. It’s unfortunate that Trainor, in trying to say that everyone’s perfect in their own way, is only concentrating on appearance – the exact thing she’s railing against.

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So what do you think – is the song helpful or harmful?  Am I being nitpicky?  Is the pancreas indeed vital?  (Keep it classy…)

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About thefoodandwinehedonist

I don't know everything about the world of food and wine, but I'm not going to let a small detail like that stop me from blogging about it.

19 comments on “One Guy’s Take on “All About That Bass”

  1. Yinzerella
    September 12, 2014

    You need a pancreas. You would like your appendix removed. That doesn’t do a damn thing.

    I hate the term “real women.” Because unless you are talking about a photoshopped image versus a living, breathing woman, ALL women are real women. Skinny, fat, short, etc.

    I am by no means a skinny minnie, but I did have a conversation with someone who complimented an article of clothing I was wearing and then said “I wish they made that in “real people” sizes.

    So, apparently I’m a figment of someone’s imagination.

    Also, I am glad that men are getting objectified. It’s about time. Eating disorders for everyone!

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      September 12, 2014

      Can’t believe someone said that to you… no wait, I can. It’s amazing how people toss out things without thinking about it. What’s worse – when you call them out on it, you’re often labeled as too PC.

      I’m still waiting to get objectified…

  2. Tamara
    September 12, 2014

    I’ll admit that I haven’t heard this song (and I’m not going to listen to it now), but I totally agree that all the comparing and ranking has got. to. stop. She even comes out and says the other person is “perfect,” which we all know is IMPOSSIBLE, since we are human beings and inherently flawed. That’s what makes us beautiful. (Oops, now I have that OD song in my head, which I can only WISH I had never heard.)

    Real women have two X chromosomes. Actually, scratch that. Real women have bodies. End of story. ❤

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      September 12, 2014

      I struggle with the term “perfect” as well. I’m really big on self-improvement – for myself and everyone I know. It keeps people interesting. And it doesn’t have to be physical – it can be new skills, learning about new food, etc.

  3. Cara Thereon
    September 12, 2014

    I like the song. I think it’s catchy and don’t look at it for it’s “positive message”. I like running to it and think its a typical pop song. But I didn’t over think Blurred Lines all that much so maybe my opinion isn’t the best.

    As for the body image/male preference thing. I get hit on enough in spite of not having the body or looks of Halle Berry or Gabrielle Union. I’m someone’s preference obviously.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      September 12, 2014

      A lot of it has to do with confidence, which I think you have oodles to spare. We know someone who didn’t have a “hot” body by any stretch, but she this air of confidence that men (and some women) went nuts over.

  4. A Famished Foodie
    September 12, 2014

    So glad you posted this! I actually really hate the slogans on either end of the spectrum. “Real Women Have Curves” and the ones that are pro-skinny. I also dislike how when you say one, you automatically put down the other. I think there’s a lot less support in the world for people who run the middling ground between the two because neither slogan really admits that people are built in many shapes and sizes.

  5. Anonymous
    September 12, 2014

    Agree, agree. And ALSO call bullshit on any white woman who claims to be “bringing the big booty back.” fuggin racists.

  6. Forty Ounce
    September 12, 2014

    Damnit! That was my comment. I suck at internets.

    Agree, agree. And ALSO call bullshit on any white woman who claims to be “bringing the big booty back.” fuggin racists.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      September 12, 2014

      Figured it was u! 1st – never knew big booty went away. 2 – I’ve seen other writers mention how the video objectifies black women and can’t say I disagree.

  7. armchairsommelier
    September 12, 2014

    I LOATHE this song!! It was on in the car the other day on our way to soccer practice and I actually listened to the words. There’s 2 minutes of my life I can never get back! But hey — my daughter and I got to have a little “teaching moment” about real women coming in a whole rainbow of sizes and shapes. Being perfect is about being comfortable in your own skin. Oh, and we also talked about booty . . . and the need to keep hers to herself. Urgh.

  8. the drunken cyclist
    September 13, 2014

    I think you are over thinking it–the song is about an individual coming to grips with her own body-type. I see it as her taking a “me against the established idea of beauty” kind of thing. She is not saying that all other types are invalid, but rather that she, herself has worth, too. Her mother was trying to help her come to grips with her own body type–similar to the way that my grand-mother talked to me about my awkward height.

    Just because she is celebrating her own body, it does not mean she is dismissing all others as non-valid.

    Plus, I like the tune.

    There–I over thought you’re over thinking.

  9. Laura
    September 13, 2014

    I’ll admit, I like the song (the tune itself, if not the lyrics) in a “this is catchy as hell” kind of way. That said, I think your analysis of the problem(s) with Trainor’s message is right on point. The phrase “real women have curves” has always driven me INSANE – I have curves, and I’m sure as hell not any “realer” than other women who don’t.

    But…I gotta say (which sounds like a version of “just saying,” I know, and I’m sorry for that) – I was a little surprised you wrote this! Obviously I’ve been following your blog for a while now and wouldn’t have continued to do so if I didn’t really enjoy it, but I *have* always noticed the comments about Lohan, the female Top Chef contestants, etc. and have always found them slightly off-putting. I’m sure you were (mostly) joking when you made them, but still. So I guess my point is: I was pleasantly surprised to read something that was completely the opposite of those things 🙂

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      September 13, 2014

      Thanks for kind words! Some of it was joking, some not. I’ve definitely evolved over the past couple years and am still doing so. A lot of it has to do with having twin girls who are now teens. Damn kids.

      • Laura
        September 14, 2014

        Wait, are you telling me that when I have kids someday I have to, like, become a better person?! 😉

  10. thediaryofsugarandspice
    September 13, 2014

    I commend you on this post! Well said! I don’t see why we have to point it out all the time. Who cares what size you are at all. In fact, I felt like she was putting down girls who are skinny and there are MANY who are naturally that way and its not a bad thing. Can’t we all just be whatever we want to be without having to write a damn anthem about it?

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      September 13, 2014

      Thank you! I’m ok with the occasional anthem – not sure if you remember Helen Reddy’s “I am Woman.” It’s just that she’s misguided in so many ways.

      • thediaryofsugarandspice
        September 13, 2014

        Agreed! I’m all for strong women anthems but not ones that single a certain type of woman out.

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This entry was posted on September 12, 2014 by in Music and tagged , , , , , , .
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