leave your inhibitions at the door
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.”
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
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.
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: No, not nothing. What’s wrong with the Righteous Brothers?
Dick: Nothing I just prefer the other one.
Rob: How can it be bullshit to state a preference?
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.
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.
So what do you think – is the song helpful or harmful? Am I being nitpicky? Is the pancreas indeed vital? (Keep it classy…)