Javascript is currently disabled. This site requires Javascript to function correctly. Please enable Javascript in your browser!

Why I'm Not All About That Bass

Articles you might be interested in

Oct. 14, 2014

If you’ve seen the YouTube video “All About that Bass” by Meghan Trainor, you’ve seen scenes and clothing reminiscent of the 1950’s with a seeming nod to the movie, Hairspray. With a catchy refrain and a good beat, the surface message is that a person should accept themselves as they are instead of striving to achieve the almost impossible look of a “stick figure silicone Barbie doll.” And this is true. When considering our figure, it is good to recognize that society has gotten beauty all wrong—that our figure is not the measure of beauty.

But if we move a little deeper into the song’s message, it could be said that one image of beauty is replaced with another. And in typical societal fashion, it is promptly sexualized. A figure that does not conform to the flat-stomached model figure is validated through its sex appeal: 

“‘Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase / And all the right junk in all the right places.” 

Two stanzas later, Trainor reemphasizes this point: 

“Yeah, my mama she told me don’t worry about your size / She says, ‘Boys like a little more booty to hold at night’”.

Such phrases may seem liberating in their refusal to conform to standard views of beauty, but it is these very phrases which make this song the exact opposite. When it comes to beauty, our culture is often the broken-record that gets stuck on that one note, that one piece of our humanity—our sexuality—and unfortunately distorts the reality of the human person in that all-consuming focus.

I wish that Trainor had spoken about the human heart instead of body size. The mainstream culture maintains that it’s all about the acceptance of all people, but this song is exclusive in scope, choosing to glorify “bass” (body types that aren’t classically thin) over “treble” (the “stick” figure). But if we were talking about a score of music, it would be absurd to sing “I’m all about that bass / ‘Bout that bass, no treble.” For you need both the bass and the treble clef for the music to be rich and complete.

Even a seemingly inclusive line, “‘Cause every inch of you is perfect / From the bottom to the top,” a line undoubtedly meant to build up those who might be made to feel uncomfortable about their body, is not as accepting and loving as it seems. We already know that this song plays to the tune of exclusion of those individuals whose looks are compared to the impossible figure of Barbie, and are unfortunately called “skinny b—”

This is why Trainor’s focus on physical appearance instead of the whole person is so damaging. It overlooks what is beyond physical appearance. Just as we need both the bass and treble clefs in a musical score, so too do we need every person, regardless of their figure, because people are more than just the sum of their parts, possessing an inherent dignity regardless of any physical feature. Trainor’s validation of one body type, though perhaps comforting, only hits upon half the issue. Though I’m sure not purposely, the song tears down one group to validate the other.

If authentic beauty is about the whole person instead of a focused look on one part of a woman’s body, then we truly need every voice to fight against the stereotypes associated with it. If we really want to spar with society’s assumption that beauty is based on sex appeal, we must stand together against the objectification that often occurs if the heart—and the person—is left out of the equation. This is a battle that must be fought together, because it affects us all, bass, treble, and every person in between.