Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Body Image, Booty, Music and Missing the Point

I've seen more than a few articles in the last week declaring that 2014 is the year of the booty.

Which seems strange to me. I grew up in the 80s. I came of age during a time when Baby Got Back stood on its own merits without being relegated to a sampled line from a Nicki Minaj song.

Come on. You remember this album cover...of him
standing on these gigantic magnificent fake ass cheeks?
Incidentally, if you're referring to your man parts as an anaconda in a song, I'm just going to assume you're taking a bit of creative license. Perhaps stretching the truth. Ahem.

Anyhow, it seems silly to me that 2014 would be declared the year of the booty since clearly we've already enjoyed the year of the booty. Or years.

Whatever.

As always happens these days, though, once the declaration was made, the articles challenging said declaration were written too. For the most part, I agree with the response pieces because they point out the history and relevance of the booty in prior decades, and get into the whole issue of why anyone is going about declaring 2014 the year of the booty...which has to do with the fact that white girls are the ones singing about the size of their asses now, when before it wasn't the white girls.

The points are valid ones, truly.

The song that seems to have triggered the most conversation about this is All About That Bass by Meghan Trainor.

You know, this one. The one that you can't avoid on the radio no matter what you do.


Sorry, I don't love it. I'm not one for bubblegum pop as it is, and this song annoys me more than normal. I'll tell you why.

(Of course I'm going to tell you why...that's why we are here, right?)

It bugs me because this song, the one that is being held up as the body love anthem of the year of the booty, is just as destructive as all the other songs that objectify women.

Just because the women are the ones doing the objectifying doesn't make it better.

Just because the song celebrates the virtues of a curvy figure doesn't make it okay.

Here's the thing.

There are lines in the song that I take issue with, big time. Assumptions made about women and girls who are naturally thin. Assumptions made about any female human who has undergone plastic surgery, or just looks like she has.

Why is it okay to sing about "stick figure silicone Barbie dolls" or "skinny bitches"?

It's not.

It's not okay and it's just as degrading as anything slamming women for being overweight. Or thick. Or basic. Or whatever it is that they are being slammed for.

You can rant all you want about the overuse of photoshop and the damage it does to women.

You can celebrate the body you have without putting other people down.

What you can't do, though, is declare that a song that celebrates one group of women at the expense of another is about body love. It's just another song pitting women against each other, where one group of women is standing on the shoulders of another to make themselves feel better.

Why can't we, why can't women, just celebrate who we are without resorting to insulting others?

Sigh.

Also. The song seems to imply that she has value as a person because the boys like a little more booty to hold at night. Um. Meghan, your value isn't determined by how many men want to grab your ass. Please don't teach my daughters to think that way. Lord knows I'm working hard enough as it is to teach them otherwise.

A song like this isn't about empowerment nearly as much as we want it to be.

It's just another song talking about the size of a woman's ass as though that is all that matters.

Every inch of you IS perfect from the bottom to the top, regardless of what the woman beside you looks like, and regardless of what the boys like.

Now go ahead, and move along.

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