I’ve recently been hearing that song by Meghan Trainor, All About the Bass on the radio (haven’t we all?) My first reaction was to think how catchy it was, but once I heard the actual lyrics, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. As catchy as it is, it’s another song prescribing how girls should or shouldn’t look.
Yeah, it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size two
But I can shake it, shake it
Like I’m supposed to do
Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase
And all the right junk in all the right places
I think it’s great that there are songs advocating for body confidence on the radio. That in itself is progress. But to proceed to call smaller girls “skinny bitches,” and accuse them of being fake creates an entirely new problem. It’s not really a song about body confidence if it’s diminishing other people in the process.
Another problem I can’t help but notice is the fact that Trainor explains that being bigger than a size two is okay because boys like it. This frustrated me to no end. Don’t be okay with your body because you think a boy will like you for it. Be okay with it because it’s yours and its part of who you are, and it’s you who has to live in it.
There is one perfect line in the song (aside from the undeniably catchy chorus): But I’m here to tell ya/Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top. This is something more people, especially young girls, need to hear regularly.
I couldn’t help but think about this song and its implications once I finished reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk, “We Should All Be Feminists.” Adichie is best known for her award winning Americanah which I actually have yet to read, but she spoke wonderfully about gender and the way the world has come to view it, in her short but powerful talk. From being passed over as class monitor in favor of a boy, to being ignored in restaurants, to having a man thank not Adichie herself for tipping him, but the man she was with, “We Should All Be Feminists” touches on all of the important aspects of feminism, as well as its cultural confines. As a Nigerian woman, Adichie approaches the topic of feminism from a perspective vastly different from my own, yet still brings it back to the global issues men and women face every day.
We spend too much time teaching girls to worry about what boys think of them. But the reverse is not the case. We don’t teach boys to care about being likeable. We spend too much time telling girls that they cannot be angry or aggressive or tough, which is bad enough, but then we turn around and either praise or excuse men for the same reasons. All over the world, there are so many magazine articles and books telling women what to do, how to be and not to be, in order to attract and please men. There are far fewer guides for men about pleasing women.
There are so many highlights in this short ebook, but they are all well worth reading and thinking about, whether you consider yourself a feminist or not. But, as Adichie notes in her closing lines: My own definition of a feminist is a man or a woman who says, yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today and we must fix it, we must do better. All of us, women and men, must do better.
*I received a complimentary copy of this e-book from Netgalley for review.