“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.”
-“All About That Bass”
For eleven weeks, Meghan Trainor’s hit single has been rising on the hot summer heat to the top spot on the Billboard charts. It’s been heralded as part of the new wave in pop culture toward redefining body image and affirming the unique beauty of women. Many have applauded Trainor’s hit calling it “a catchy step in a healthier direction,” while other have recoiled claiming some of the lyrics are “a hateful way to refer to women of a particular shape.”
Beauty Competition and Acceptance.
It is a terrible thing for any woman to feel that she is of less value to our society, to her family, to men, or to God because of the shape of her body. Trainor has hit a vein with women and girls across America, and she is certainly in the majority. Most women do not look like the actresses and celebrities that grace our screens and magazine covers. Most of them “ain’t no size two” either. “All About That Bass” has become an anthem for women who want to be celebrated, loved, and desired just as they are.
Some critics have claimed that Trainor’s hit denounces women who actually are thin, but they have misinterpreted her lyrics. Trainor makes a somewhat misguided attempt at reaching across the dressing room to ladies who deal with anorexia and other eating disorders with her tongue-in-cheek line, “I’m bringing booty back, go ahead and tell them skinny b****es that! No I’m just playing. I know you think you’re fat…” Probably not the most tasteful way of doing it, but she does affirm, “I’m here to tell ya, every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top.” It’s clear she’s not intentionally celebrating her own more curvy body type to the denigration of thin women. She wants all women to have this empowered mentality that their shape is truly beautiful.
Blaming the Culprit.
Trainor realizes that it’s not particularly the models or celebrities on the magazine cover spreads who are to blame for her image issues. It’s the magazine editors and photographers who are doctoring photos of real women to create impossible body types, and encouraging the general public to value these fake photos as the perfection of beauty: “I see the magazine workin’ that Photoshop, we know that s**t ain’t real, c’mon now, make it stop!”
We are a people who look at screens. On those screens, our eyes are fed with hundreds of images day after day. When most of them have been touched up, airbrushed, or altered, it is no surprise that it would have an effect on our cultural expectations of women in the real world. The problem is that no woman will ever live up to the photoshopped standards we see on our screens.
The Stumbling Stone of Sexual Desirability.
Overall, I still think Meghan Trainor has missed the boat. Yes, she is trying to help women realize they don’t have to be a certain size to be beautiful. However, the way she affirm her personal identity is by listening to her mother’s advice that “Boys like a little more booty to hold at night.” Trainor finds her value in the playful fact that she’s “got that boom boom that all the boys chase, and all the right junk in all the right places.” She is reassured in her value as a woman because she is desirable to men.
This is the saddening fact: Trainor’s “All About That Bass” is an anthem encouraging women to determine their value on the basis of sexual desirability. Yes, she wants women to be affirmed in their own unique shape and size, but she finds personal value in her ability to put her body to work to impress men and fulfill their sexual desires. Trainor rests easy in the fact that boys out their will actually find her body more sexually satisfying than if she were thinner.
In this regard, “All About That Bass” is business as usual. It is written from a worldview that sees a person’s identity and value as defined by his or her sexuality. Trainor’s hit affirms the pervading opinion that ultimate value is found in the realm of sexuality. Her particular spin uses a catchy hook to encourage women to continue living as though their value is determined by whether boys find them sexually fulfilling and desirable.
A Woman’s True Value.
Every woman has great value not because she is a desirable sex partner for men, but because she is made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27). She has been given an eternal soul that was designed to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Every day of her life was written in God’s book before it came to be (Psalm 139:16). God is intimately involved in her life, and his desire is for her to repent and believe in Jesus Christ, his Son, who is the only man ever to walk the earth who can satisfy her heart’s longing for acceptance, forgiveness, and healing.
A woman does not have value because Meghan Trainor says she does or another man says she does or a magazine cover says she does. A woman can find the only true and abiding sense of value in the love God has demonstrated on the cross: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).