Written by Emily Ingram
GIRLS! Sick of the global media surrounding you with a body image you simply cannot attain? Tired of the everyday injustices suffered by you and your fellow sisters? Feeling worn-down by the persistent threat of omnipotent patriarchal control? Fear not- for you have a new heroine in the form of dazzlingly famous, yet surprisingly normal, super starlet Meghan Trainor! At last, a true feminist icon for the masses! Right?
Sadly, wrong. Despite her fragmented success in crafting a strong message of body positivity for the larger lady, it’s clear that Meghan Trainor’s superhit ‘All About That Bass’ and, indeed, her consequent success, have done much more harm than good today’s modern young woman. The singer clearly had nothing but positive intentions for her work, as initially the song appears to be an optimistic anthem, preaching equality for all women despite their size with the sickeningly sweet hook: “Every inch of you is perfect/from the bottom to the top”. Unfortunately, the lyrical content quickly deteriorates, spiralling into a vicious bloodbath of alarming social messages- “skinny bitches”– and the stark glorification of male sexual attention- “boys like a little more booty to hold at night”. According to the virtual checklist of catastrophic messages to communicate to young women, it appears that ‘All About That Bass’ ticks every box: making it about as empowering as Nigel Farage opening the door of a strip club for you, then slapping your arse on the way in as he calls you his ‘Baby Girl’. Body-shaming, patriarchal control and nonsensical images of the ‘perfect woman’ are all quite blatantly present throughout the song, projecting the idea that women should not be anything other than curvaceous in order to win over that all-important male affection.
Now you see the issue- or rather, issues: a musician that has been hailed by many as a champion of female emancipation and feminism is revealed to only really represent a certain group of the female population. Whether knowingly or not, Trainor utilises her music to continuously advocate competition and hatred amongst women, whilst hailing all males to be sexually superior to females. In a modern world of sexual and physical diversity that persists in holding women as second class citizens, the communication of these messages through the medium of popular music is incredibly harmful for a huge number of reasons. Crucially, it completely neglects to consider the body-positivity aspirations of any woman outside the label of ‘heterosexual’, and encourages young girls to condemn each other as either ‘too fat’ or ‘too thin’ until the whole notion of body image becomes so skewed and confusing that they have absolutely no sense of personal identity. Once again, they must look to the popular culture that surrounds them in an attempt to find some sense; the ritual of daily television, magazine and social media consumption becomes the norm as modern girls reach adolescence.
Yet, thanks to gargantuan light placed upon confusingly false idols like Trainor, important female role models are cast into the shadows, making it very difficult for young women to engage with their ideas. There are of course a few exceptions to this, as Emma Watson proved with an inspirational speech on global feminism that quickly became viral across the media last year. But many powerful female figures in art, literature and social or political activism still remain in obscurity, unless actively sought out by young women. Women with inspirational stories and wholly positive messages, such as Marjane Satrapi, Caitlin Moran and Caroline Criado-Perez can often only be accessed by extensive reading, or research into the feminist cause, something which is rarely conducted by the average 12-year-old.
It therefore becomes of the utmost importance for those who are informed to do our best to call out these false role models and give the real icons the recognition and power they deserve: think of the next generation, your younger sisters, daughters and nieces, fed a multitude of contradictory ideals and messages, unable to question the norms and values society places before them. Young social-media feminists of the world, unite and take over! Reblog, retweet, and help young women all over the world to be proud of who they are- whatever their size, sexuality and background- to be supportive of other women, and to strive towards equality.