Pop-Culture | Posted by Antonia Bentel on 10/27/2014

Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass” Is No Feminist Anthem

Listening to (and belting out) Top 40 songs in the car is non-negotiable if you’re riding along with me. I love the bubble-gum-for-your-brain songs and gush over new pop tunes. However, I also identify as a feminist and am inclined to listen to these songs with critical ears, ready to pick up on any all-too-common sexist remarks. So, when the radio host proclaimed, “I’ll be playing a song from Meghan Trainor, called ‘All About That Bass’ – some call this catchy song the new pro-women song of the decade,” you could safely assume that I was beyond excited to hear it.

As the first few beats bubbled up from the speakers, I was instantly captivated. The repetition of the phrase “Because you know I’m all about that bass, no treble” seemed like an ode to one of my favorite feminist musician Nicki Minaj’s songs entitled “Superbass” (to which I will proudly rap for anyone who so much as mentions the song). Even though it was my first time listening, I quickly began to hum along. Soon, Meghan was singing about how she “ain’t no size 2” how she can “shake it” like she’s “supposed to do.” She sang about how she sees magazines “workin’ that Photoshop,” and begs for the wholly negative and hurtful practice to end. And she croons the most important line of the entire song sweetly, “every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top.”

At this point, I was incredibly impressed with the song. “Finally!” I thought, “A pop song that calls out incredibly damaging societal practices… especially body shaming.” After a few more body-affirming lines, however, the song quickly took a turn for the worse. For me, it comes down to ten simple words. She mentions how her mother told her to not worry about her size, the reason being that “boys like a little more booty to hold at night.” As the lyrics washed over me, I lowered the volume and sighed. Within that short refrain, the entire song’s message was tainted.

Although earlier Meghan preached body positivity and self-confidence regardless of one’s outer beauty and size, those ten words suggest that the only way a female can achieve complete body-acceptance is still through male validation. The only reason a girl should take pleasure in her body is because boys enjoy (and are entitled to) her more voluptuous features. This lyric merely reinforces deeply entrenched gender roles within our society, as well as excludes women/girls who are not interested in men/boys or any gender at all.

After that distasteful lyric, the song’s positive message fell even further from grace as Meghan constantly repeated that she “ain’t no silicone, stick-figure Barbie doll,” and sang that she’s “bringing booty back…go tell them skinny b*tches that.” By singing these two lines, she degrades women who are naturally thin and petite. (However, it is extraordinarily important to note that our society and thin-obsessed culture has the tendency to idolize slender women while being incredibly reproachful of larger women). Even though she soon returns to singing about loving one’s body, these lyrics that insinuate that women smaller than the singer should not be considered “real women” who deserve a man can’t be ignored.

Although Meghan Trainor wrote and sang “All About That Bass” in order to promote self-love and positive body image, her lyrics convey to her female audience that their bodies were created for men’s approval, and that in order to feel better about their own bodies, it is okay to disgrace the bodies of other women. Obtaining a man’s approval through one’s particular physical appearance is not, in any way, a mark of a woman’s potential self-worth. The message that should have emanated from the song is that everyone is beautiful, regardless of his or her body type and outer appearance. Just remember “every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top” and don’t worry about your size, because your self-worth isn’t dictated by a bunch of guys.

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  • Laura @ at 1:25 am, October 29th, 2014

    My sentiments exactly. There is so much great about the song, but that one line negates everything.

  • Brooke @ at 11:19 am, October 29th, 2014

    YES! Thank you! I had the exact same reaction at the exact same moment.

    Someone should just cut that part out, or reword it, and then the song would be perfect!

  • Yasmin El Ali @ at 2:05 pm, October 29th, 2014

    I couldn’t have said it better.

  • Dri @ at 2:58 pm, October 29th, 2014

    Although I agree she’s too hard on skinny women in the song, I don’t agree that her saying men also like full figures is inherently sexist. Part of feeling sexy can be feeling wanted, and a lot of larger girls wrestle with that, or hide their bodies because they think men will be disgusted.

    You could dissect it the way the author did, or you could see it as a piece of a larger part of body positivity.

  • Tiffany @ at 4:06 pm, October 29th, 2014

    She does make the remark about skinny b*tches, but she immediately turns around and says, “Just playin’ we know you think your fat, but I’m here to tell ya, every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top.”

    That lyric tends to get over looked. I love the song, but I wish she had left out the line about boys liking her figure. No man can dictate your self-worth.

  • Wolf @ at 4:06 pm, October 29th, 2014

    Dri, it’s not about saying that men like full figures, it’s pitting women against each other, saying that men prefer full figured women over ‘skinny bitches’ and how you can only possibly feel good about yourself through validation of men and through what they want.

  • mia @ at 4:16 pm, October 29th, 2014

    But Nicki is your favorite “feminist musician”; how is Nicki a feminist ???!!! I have an opinion about referring to her as a “musician”, let alone feminist. People need to stop running the word/ lifestyle feminist for me.

  • Kat @ at 4:39 pm, October 29th, 2014

    Listened to this song with my teenage daughter’s last night. First I thought it was Nikki Minage, whom I find loathsome. But then the kids told me it was this Meghan Trainor. My objections to this song are multiple. First off not only is this song downright sexist, but this woman is clueless and has the gall herself a feminist! Lastly the outright cooptation of black music (in this case hip hop) continues to be nauseating and laughable.

  • malkie @ at 9:44 pm, October 29th, 2014

    I agree that ‘go to them skinny botches that’ is upsetting… out of context. The very next line is ‘I’m just playin’ I know y’all think your fat,’ is my absolute favorite line in the song. It is the most telling of what the industry is doing to women. There’s no such thing as sskinny bitches! They all think their fat! That’s the only sentiment that Meghan makes that is actually revolutionary throughout the whole song. She Isn’t calling women skinny to skinny shame y hem, but to show us that society has effeeffectively screwed with all our minds so much so we don’t even have any concept of what skinny or fat is anymore! Feminist anthem might be a little sensationalised, but skinny shaming: this is not.

  • Kitty Cavalier | All About That Bass; My Thoughts @ at 2:32 pm, October 30th, 2014

    […] morning while trolling my Facebook feed I came across this article titled “Meghan Trainor’s ‘All About That Bass’ Is No Feminist […]

  • Sheila @ at 5:54 pm, October 30th, 2014

    Oh, puh-lease. Lighten up. It’s just a silly little pop song that in a few weeks, no one will even remember. The song hardly warrants such an in depth analysis from the feminist viewpoint. What about J Lo’s new booty video? I found that to be much more offensive, objectifying of women, and distasteful than the lyrics of this song. Just enjoy it for what it’s worth…a bubble gum pop song.

  • Jerry @ at 1:57 am, October 31st, 2014

    I do find it distrubing that you think Nicki Minaj is any bit feminist, esp with the Anaconda song. Which again much is the same kind of lyrics as this song seeks to validate the women’s booty by a man “my anaconda dont want not unless you got bun hun”

  • Robert @ at 10:39 am, November 12th, 2014

    If the message of the song is overwhelmingly positive and reprehensive of current body-image stigmas for women, then why should a few ambiguous lines ruin that for you?

    Previous comments have already explained why this critique is lacking, but in addition I’d like to point out that worth as a whole is still partially dependent on others’ inputs. Of course, I would never want a romantic partner to wholly base her self-worth on my approval, but the reality is that approval through compliments, favors, and other forms of social interaction do contribute to self worth. We are social creatures that depend on this. We need not sacrifice the human experience in order to fit feminism. It fits just fine.

    Meghan never claims that ALL men like bigger booty nor did she say that women should base their self-worth on that.

  • Susana @ at 10:48 pm, December 12th, 2014

    In my opinion, I am not really a fan of new songs. But when I heard it because my friends told me to. the line about skinny b*tches, made me want to cry. I have gained like 40-50 pounds in the past few years but people won’t shut up about how thin I am. It’s not even funny anymore… And then when she says ‘No, I’m just playing I know you think you’re fat,’ and here’s what I say to that “For your information Meghan Trainer just because a lot of girls think they are fat when they aren’t doesn’t mean I do. And I know you think you’re better than us some how, but you’re not. And stop saying that guys will love you more if you aren’t thin. You’re taking away people’s self confidence and making them want to gain weight, which in some cases isn’t good.”

  • Coming to Meghan Trainor’s defense! | MuSicAlly Chaotic @ at 2:45 pm, May 18th, 2015

    […] to write them in separate posts so I don’t confuse anyone. In this post, I am referring to FBomb.org article. Both are attacking the song and how girls are only validated through men’s appeal […]

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