All About That Bass: Empowerment or Skinny Shaming?

Robin Thicke, Taylor Swift, and now Meghan Trainor.  It seems that nowadays a pop song can't be a hit without stirring up controversy over women and their bodies.

By now, we've all heard 'All About That Bass' blasting across the radio waves.  The song by Meghan Trainor has been absolutely everywhere these last months, and has been sitting at number one on the Billboard charts for the past three weeks.

Since its debut in June, the song has gotten attention and praise for its 'body positive' lyrics.  Throughout the song, Trainor tells girls to love their curves, even if they're not a size zero.  A song sung by a plus-size woman telling girls that they're beautiful - nothing wrong with that, right?

Not quite.  The song has been getting quite the backlash as of late.  Fourth-year STUdent Allieanna Ballagh says the lyrics are just a form of skinny-shaming.

"Any positive line in the song is quickly contradicted with a subsequent discriminatory lyric," she says. "No matter what size you are or how often your body type is represented in the media, no one deserves to feel poorly about their bodies - big or small."

Allieanna says that though plus-size women are under-represented in the media, Trainor is going about her message in the wrong way.  She cites lyrics like, "I'm bringing booty back, go ahead and tell them skinny b*tches that," as an example of the villification of skinny girls, and not what people should be calling body positive.

Second-year student Danielle Brewer has mixed feelings about the song.  She agrees that it's catchy and upbeat, but thinks it sends a mixed message to girls.

"I feel as though the song was made to be a positive influence for girls struggling with healthy body images and for that I think it's good it's caught on," says Danielle.

However, she adds that she also finds the lyrics directed at smaller girls offensive.  She says that judging someone by their body is always wrong, no matter what size they are.

Allieanna says the song - and its hit status - represents a double-standard for women.  In recent years, the term "real woman" has taken on a new meaning, from marketing campaigns like Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty to plus-sized celebrities like Adele.  Allieanna thinks the term has become exclusive to a certain type of body.  Though we live in an age where girls are taught to be comfortable in their skin and respect others, it's seemingly okay to play a song that favours one body type over another. 

"Why is it that we tell women of all ages to be proud of their bodies, flaws and all, yet many do not consider 00 a 'real size,' and it's completely okay to tell a thin woman to 'put some meat on her bones?'"

She says the message should instead be about solidarity, not shaming.

"I think it's incredibly difficult for women of all sizes to feel represented and that's why we should try and support each other instead of shaming each other."

But, it's not just the 'booty' that's getting heat.

Danielle notes that the song puts a heavy - and questionable - emphasis on how men view a woman's body.  She says that when Trainor sings that "boys like a little more booty to hold at night," it can send a bad message to girls of any size.

"As a woman you shouldn't feel the need to change your shape or size for anyone," she says.

Both girls have differing opinions on the song, but they agree that its message is counter-intuitive.  Danielle says that the song can be a positive influence, but could also benefit from being more inclusive.  She thinks that if it were, Trainor would have an even bigger hit on her hands.

Allieanna holds strong on her stance that 'All About That Bass' is not body positive.

"I believe that being body positive does not include bringing down individuals that are smaller or bigger than you," she says. "You can be proud of your size without making others feel as if they are inferior."

'All About That Bass' © Epic Records