Not About That Bass: Why Meghan Trainor’s Message is Mixed

Her hit song, “All About That Bass”, became phenomenally popular very quickly, giving girls and women a perfect anthem of body positivity, right? Her second single, “Dear Future Husband”, is an upbeat, fun, harmless song with a nice video, right? Her messages were completely positive and helpful, right?

Not really.

If one listens to the lyrics of Meghan Trainor’s hit single “All About That Bass”, one may notice some hidden (or not so hidden) messages inside her sassy deliverance of lyrics such “I got that boom boom, that all the boys chasing,” and “Boys like a little more booty.” These lyrics are thinly veiled implications that girls’ bodies are only acceptable because boys like them.

Problematic? Definitely.

In Trainor’s video for “Dear Future Husband”, her second almost-feminist song that she completely undermines, Trainor cooks and cleans in a kitchen and stands by twirling her hair and looking pretty while a man shows off his strength at a carnival game. Some of the lyrics actually depict something completely different from the video. Trainor sings “You got that 9 to 5, but baby so do I, so don’t be thinking I’ll be home and making apple pies,” the kind of lyric that I applaud for showing that women work just as hard as men and don’t just cook and clean. But at that moment in the video, Trainor is dressed in a retro housewife dress and is scrubbing the kitchen floor with no indication of irony. However, the other lyrics in “Dear Future Husband” paint a picture of a demanding, rude and disrespectful woman talking to a phantom perfect husband.  “We’ll never see your family more than mine”? Because estrangement is so romantic. “You know I’m never wrong”? What I like about this statement is that it’s actually always wrong. In all honesty, the only half-decent part of “Dear Future Husband” is the “9 to 5” lyric, but even that good lyric is canceled out by the video.

Many people are applauding Trainor for being so “different”, in the form of being larger than a size 6 and singing about (male) acceptance of girls’ bodies and “feminism”. However, the reason that she is so widely accepted is because she is probably not larger than a size 10 or 12, the smaller side of plus size (if Trainor is plus sized at all) and her “feminism” benefits men by placing them on a throne of ego. She has been called “the next Beyonce” and “a wonderful influence on young girls”. Trainor could have delivered some truly feminist, body positive anthems, had she just left out those mentions of male attention and the stereotypes that feminists work so hard to undo, and also toned down the rudeness of her lyrics.

For some girls, striving for male attention is what they want to do, and that is perfectly fine and their choice, but not all girls want male attention and validation. Some girls accept their cellulite and larger-than-model-size bodies or try to change their self-love mentality because they want to. Or maybe they love their body but want to lose weight or be healthier. Or maybe they aren’t attracted to boys at all. So surely there is something wrong with Trainor implying that boys’ approval is why girls should love their bodies.

Meghan Trainor, with her catchy pop hooks, “feminism” and “body positivity”, is a talented (if oblivious) woman who simply used her songwriting abilities the wrong way. She does not identify as a feminist but is benefiting from the feminist cause because of the public’s warped vision of the equal rights movement. I think that her songs are catchy and admire that she writes her own, but the implications of these songs are enough to make me skip her music or change the station. She did an almost (see: Beyonce) unheard of thing by releasing a song about real issues of judgement/acceptance of women’s bodies, but went about it in a way that contributed to the problem itself. Now the girls who feel forced to accept their bodies because some boys like them are the ones paying the price of Trainor’s success.

image credit: http://www.etonline.com/media/photo/2014/11/24113543/640_meghan_trainor_cosmopol.jpg