Sure, “real women have curves.” But some real women don’t have curves. And that’s okay, but saying that women are only “real” if they fit one body stereotype or another is completely not okay. In fact, it’s entirely hypocritical and it isn’t helping improve the situation on either side of the spectrum whatsoever.
Unless you lived under a rock this summer, you’ve probably heard Meghan Trainor’s super-catchy hit “All About That Bass” one or one thousand times. At first listen, this song seems like a healthy and heartening mantra promoting girls to view themselves with a positive body image, and with bubblegum lyrics such as “my mama she told me don’t worry about your size“ and “every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top,” how can you not believe her?
If you listen more closely, however, some of the lyrics seem to be a little less uplifting. Between her choruses of positivity she also slips in lines such as “I’m bringing booty back, go ahead and tell them skinny b****** that…” Even though she does nonchalantly say that she is kidding about this line right afterward, it can still leave a bit of a sour taste in our mouths and the words “skinny shaming” ringing through our ears – and yes, that is a real thing.
Regardless of whatever good or bad Meghan may have intended with the lyrics, the music video for “All About That Bass” hit me as being the most obtrusive. If you haven’t seen it yet, the video features a group of average to larger-sized dancers accompanying Meghan while she herself dances and sings along in a colorful and happy-go-lucky montage.
While all of this is going on, there is a much skinnier girl that is being pushed around and made fun of for being thin and boney. Portrayed as a fake, dimwitted and undesirable model, she is dressed in an outfit that seems to be made of plastic wrap and is teased for not being able to “shake it” like the rest of them can. In other words, while the “thicker” body types are being positively raised up, those who are skinny are being brought down, leaving us in the same state of inequality that we started in.
“All About That Bass” isn’t the first song that has sent out mixed messages about body images and what girls should look like, and it certainly won’t be the last, but it is a good example of an important controversy in our current pop culture. Reactions to the song have varied from huge support to utter offense, and although some may just want to sit back and enjoy the music, it is a conversation worth having.
The bottom line is this: It shouldn’t be about which body type is “best” – that’s not equality. It should be about first recognizing that all body types are valid and real, and then learning to understand what healthy means for each type without paying attention to the unrealistic standards set by celebrities and the media (whether it be on the thick side or the thin side.)
So please, by all means, take what you were given and roll with it! It’s okay to feel good about yourself and to share that feeling with the world. Just be sure you aren’t putting anybody else down while doing it. What matters is that you are happy with who you are because you are happy with who you are, and not because of the opinions of others.