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Thursday, August 7, 2014

‘All About That Bass’ Song Draws Critics

Blogger and author Jenny Trout takes issue with the song "All About That Bass." (Chris McGuire Photography via jennytrout.com)

Blogger and author Jenny Trout takes issue with the song “All About That Bass.” (Chris McGuire Photography via jennytrout.com)

Meghan Trainor’s summer hit, “All About That Bass” is being hailed as a body positive dance tune, but one blogger says, not so fast.

Here & Now’s Robin Young talks to Jenny Trout about her piece “I Am Not All About That Bass: Deconstructing The Summer’s Feel-Good, Body-Positive Hit.”

Trout has several problems with the song, but writes, in part:

What could be a positive message comes out as a backhanded compliment. Sure, every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top, but only grudgingly. You get to feel good about yourself, but only if women Meghan Trainor’s size get to feel better by mocking your appearance. And only if you share the same weight insecurities.

Video: 'All About That Bass'

Guest


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  • Rick

    Thank you for covering this critical issue. All women should be lied to and told they are beautiful, even if they aren’t. Now, let’s analyze the lyrics of some other hip hop songs while we’re at it, and see how “positive and feminist” they are towards women.

    • FattyBoomBoom

      I doubt any of those songs you refer to (but probably couldn’t name a single one) claim to be “positive and feminist”.
      And “beautiful” is subjective btw.

      • Bill98

        It’s not as subjective as you might think. The standard for female beauty across cultures is 60% waist-to-hips ratio. Most likely, this is because such proportions indicate the health, fertility, and ability of the woman to successfully birth children.

        So, evolution made a woman with this ratio beautiful to men. It’s not something that can be reasoned with, nor can guys change this, no matter how guilty some folks try to make them feel about it.

  • Noel Fry

    i would like to point out that your guest failed to mention the obese man dancing throughout the video, she only described the singer. Not only that but her comments about feeling fat vs being fat, I felt really ignored that there are confident people of all sizes as well as people feeling dragged down by their size, be them fat, skinny or in-between. If it isn’t about how we feel, than what is it about? I have been roughly the size of the singer give or take my whole life and i absolutely was taunted by boys and girls ab out my size growing up. So why very skinny people and heavy people are bothered by others about their size so is every other type of person, so what really matters IS how you feel about your body…not whether or not you truly are fat or skinny. if you fell fat and are told you are fat and lack confidence or happiness because of it than that is very real.

    • S David H de Lorge

      It helps if being too skinny or too heavy doesn’t damage your bones in one case and your joints in the other, various internal organs, diabetes, and chronic illness preceding premature death.

      There is certainly a normal range which most people can safely inhabit, but the farther from it they get, the more people will have bad consequences. And I’m not talking about interpersonal nastiness.

    • S David H de Lorge

      My first response comes close to talking myself into trouble, so I’m back with another attempt.

      Among skinny people and heavy people who aren’t morbidly so, many remain reasonably healthy for reasonable lifespans.

      Out of every thousand people, a certain number will have serious and fatal illnesses. Out of every thousand people who are uncommonly skinny or uncommonly heavy, a larger number will encounter serious and fatal illnesses, but some will stay fine.

      That’s why I had to chime in. For some, it’s worth serious treatment and serious work to try to reach and stay in the normal range of weight. However, that doesn’t mean that Oprah needs to keep straining for it any more. She appears to be better off accepting her own average and enjoying life. That may be so for you too.

      As to the mean people, seek guidance in how to best respond in a way that lets you feel okay and maybe breaks through to the other person besides. And remember that not everybody is mean. And remember that if you are so defensive that you take the offensive, you may end up being perceived as the mean or difficult person in the situation, in which case you will be right that people are acting oddly toward you.

  • The_Truth_Seeker(TM)

    All About That Bass’ Song Draws Critics – Really H&N?

  • The_Truth_Seeker(TM)

    Way too much time on your hands, H&N!

  • th3_bag

    What a useless interview. Someone has an issue with a song. I was cringing throughout. How infinitesimal.

  • Johnstowngirl

    Healthy is beautiful, whatever the size. We need to stop focusing on both size and other people’s opinions. My self worth should not be dictated by any magazine or man, and my responsibility to myself is to be as healthy and as strong as I can be. When I feel that, healthy and strong, I feel and I AM beautiful.

  • The_Truth_Seeker(TM)

    The most important topic of the week, eh!!!

  • Noyz

    Has Robin Thicke and Pharrel gotten their cut from their Blurred Lines music being used ? I don’t even listen to this genre and could hear that within a few seconds.

  • Sonoe Nakasone

    I enjoyed this nuanced discussion. On one hand I think that the intention of the musician was to send a message of strength and pride, on the other hand, I agree with the guest’s comment that if we don’t look deeply and dissect media, we run the risk of perpetuating potentially harmful messages and lose the opportunity to create more positive ones. I agree that calling people out for being skinny isn’t cool. I also agree that this continues the conceptualization of a woman’s worth as a sexual object. People are sexual beings, so I’m not saying we should negate female sexuality or sensuality, but the emphasis on “booty shaking” as the host pointed out, seems to emphasize the idea that a REAL woman is one that is attractive to men. That’s a pretty limited role.

  • S David H de Lorge

    How many years ago was it that the word “thick” was used to describe attractive women who weren’t thin? Was it just for people circling around the subculture of Hip Hop, and perhaps the urban R & B scene, that “thick” was widely identified as another kind of sexy?

    Not very many years at all. Maybe it’s an unfortunate matter of mass culture vs subculture.

    Could you look into that?

  • The_Truth_Seeker(TM)

    Does this kind of “analysis” of song lyrics, require a PhD?

    • S David H de Lorge

      No. But on occasion it may add something.

      • The_Truth_Seeker(TM)

        OK.

  • Megan

    I agree, it is an empowering song for women over other women. Just another example of how a woman’s beauty in the eyes of a man is more important than in the eyes of herself.

  • Christina

    Me and my derby team loved the song so much that we did a parody video :D

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMQSjVsSB70

    http://www.oklahomavictorydolls.com

    • The_Truth_Seeker(TM)

      Great to see all that education put to good use :-) Love it!

    • Mark Navin

      LOVE IT! <3

    • MamaRea

      The victory girls rock! This is as good as the original :)

    • Teammm

      Awesome! :D

  • Chuck Clemens

    Obesity is still a health issue first and a social issue second. You should never be happy with yourself living in poor health with too much extra weight on your body. The evidence is there that life expectancy shortens the more excess weight you carry. The song is teaching you to lie to yourself about your weight and that others are wrong for not liking the way you look. That is not body acceptance its delusional and not a healthy way of looking at your body. There is nothing wrong with attraction and finding particular sizes more or less attractive.

    What the song should have said was that she is healthy and vibrant. There are plenty of people who do find her size attractive and would not compare her beauty to the false message found in magazines.

    The stuff about photoshop is good and should be a part of social consciousness because it certainly is damaging to have our young women and men trying to reach those impossible goals.

    • The_Truth_Seeker(TM)

      Only serious comment here (except maybe for mine, about something completely different).

    • StaceyInTheUSA

      It’s a SONG. A song about obesity being a health issue first doesn’t sound catchy at all.

    • Womyn2me

      Chuck, as a guy, your opinion about a song encouraging
      positive self esteem for women is unneeded. Go find ways
      that you can improve the lives of women rather than opine on
      Women’s weight.

      • Sophie B

        As a woman, I share the same opinion as Chuck. His opinion is not invalid because of his gender. That’s just some sexist bullshit. Attack the point if it IS invalid, not the PERSON. See also, “ad hominem attack” for reference.

      • Joey Kogut Jr

        A hater Womyn…..smh

    • happy fat girl

      Or you could not worry about other people’s bodies! Relax and have fun and don’t worry if other people are fat.

  • Ciara

    A major point I wish would be addressed is why are we focusing so much on female body image still, not only in pop songs but also in our response to them. We put this topic on such an unnecessary pedestal. We should be questioning why a woman’s weight has become a pressing issue, as if this is a crucial and determining aspect of a woman’s identity. Taking this topic so seriously and discussing it too often is actually reinforcing the idea that beauty and body image is of the utmost importance in a woman’s life. It’s a sexist preoccupation.

    • The_Truth_Seeker(TM)

      It’s always been this way, since the “cave man”, unfortunately.

  • Connie Sobczak

    I heard “body positive” mentioned several times in the interview and wanted to mention “THE Body Positive,” a nonprofit organization that has been working with people of all sizes for 19 years to free them to find self-love and real health, and to turn their focus to life purpose in whatever size they are. We just published a new book called Embody: Learning to Love Your Unique Body (and quiet that critical voice!). I invite you to check it out!

  • Rhané Thomas

    It’s just a song. I don’t understand why talking heads need to attach deeper meaning to it. Songs, books, movies, art are works of creation that reflect the artist’s inspiration at that moment. Any meaning one reads into them reveals the consumers’ internal landscape rather than the artist’s intent.

    • The_Truth_Seeker(TM)

      Must be a slow week for H&N?

  • LiberalGuilt

    Totally rediculous. It’s her song. The “blogger” spent the interview criticizing her for what she wished the song would have said? Write your own song then.
    And then complaining that booty shaking sets “heterosexual male love as a gold ring to achieve”. Seriously? It’s a dance song. Dance to it.

  • TripleKidney

    I intentionally have no idea who these people are. I listen to NPR specifically because they are not these people. Stories like this are so far below what I expect from NPR.

    • Bazil

      Yeah. I miss Neal Conan and Talk Of The Nation.

  • Zoe Butcher

    It’s one thing to try and promote a positive body image about all women in a song like Colbie Callait’s Try, and it’s a whole other thing to put down thin people to prop up fat people and make them feel better through shaming the other group. The entire song consists of put-downs aimed at women who aren’t curvy and have no ass, and it’s truly disappointing that she wrote the lyrics in the way that she did because it sounds like she’s got a personal vendetta against skinny people calling them skinny btches! Sure, she says just playing right afterwards, but let’s see if that really lets her off the hook, let’s try the same thing on a slow person and walk up and say hey ret@rd, oh just playing. Yeah, no. That doesn’t work.

    • Kasia Rivers

      I think it was fine. I’m really skinny, and at first, I felt like she was putting down thin girls as well, but I think that’s reading a bit too much into it, to be honest. I don’t think she meant to put down a thinner body type. She was just focusing on telling heavier people that their bodies were okay, too. Not telling anyone that other body types weren’t. I love this song. And I’ve showed it to my friends, and they loved it too. I’m not insulted by it.

      I apologize if there was a slightly poor choice in words in my above comment. Please feel free to correct me if you think there was.

  • ocdhickson

    Perfect example of somebody searching for something to complain about.

    Here is a song that should be seen as empowering to all women and this blogger needed something cry about.

    If the words say “every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top” that’s what the lyricist meant. It doesn’t leave a lot of room for or require much interpretation.

    • Qwertyyy

      I’m a fairly thin person, so is my sister, we both felt quite uncomfortable with the song. I wanted to like it, and find the positive things in it, but there were a lot of messages saying that my body type isn’t okay, and only girls with the “right kind of curves” are beautiful or desirable, which also excludes a lot of women who are overweight and didn’t find that weight show up in their hips or breasts. It’s not really that body positive, I wish it was. It’s catchy, but it mostly makes me sad and disappointed.

  • Tammy

    Seriously?? Jenny Trout is not exactly tiny (and nor am I), so I have to wonder what exactly it is she wants if celebrating a “larger” body is such a terrible thing. Maybe it’s not enough for her that Meghan Trainor resembles a normal woman rejecting the idea that we should all be a size zero. Should Trainor apologise that she’s not fatter? Isn’t it bad enough that normal is considered fat by the media? Does she need a double chin for her comment to be taken seriously?
    I’m afraid the only weight insecurities Trout’s comments highlight are her own.

  • musician

    Never mind the why or wherefore… I just love the song……….Can’t wait to hear other songs from this artist.

  • Mick

    I just watched a movie on Netflix called Branded: Wow, they are really doing it.

  • StaceyInTheUSA

    Ms. Trout needs to chill – it’s a song, for cryin’ out loud, not a life choice, an indictment, or a sermon. If the message doesn’t speak to you, then move on, because it obviously speaks to many others.

    • susanblv

      Trout appears to be one of those people who look for reasons to be offended, and many of the comments here look like they’re written by the same type of person. Folks, let’s not forget…it’s Show Biz! E for Entertainment! If you don’t like it, find something you do like.

  • Elaine

    “It’s not as though she’s Adele size or something” Did Ms. Trout really just say that?!? Very insensitive remark.

    • susanblv

      Agreed. Plus, Adele’s size certainly didn’t get in the way of her remarkable success and acclaim as an artist.

  • The_Truth_Seeker(TM)

    With all the other important stuff going on in the world, why is this topic the most commented on, here? Sure shows where people’s priorities are.

    This stories on the same day, got almost no comments (guess fleeting songs are more important than the future of jobs, or the risks of ebola):

    http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2014/08/07/robots-jobs-survey (4)
    http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2014/08/07/ebola-experimental-treatment (1)

  • Nicole Schmidt

    It’s just a catchy song. People read too much into it.

  • Alice

    I’ve seen a point where people argue over the “skinny b!tches” in the song. Maybe the song was describing the a person who was a b!tch to the artist, rather than calling skinny girls b!tches? As in “Go ahead and tell that girl who called you fat that you’re bringing booty back”, not” Tell all the skinny girls you’re bringing booty back because they’re all b!tches.”

  • Deegee

    I love it! :) And I am a woman with healthy curves at the weight I am suppose to be. With eating correctly and exercise I intend to keep it that way. :) The song is to make girls that are not overweight, yet not a size 2, feel good about themselves. That’s great. The music makes me want to move, what’s wrong with that? :) Have a great evening people and lighten up some, it’s just a song that will be gone soon enough.

    • happy fat girl

      I’m hella fat and it makes me feel amazing. I never got the message that the target is only girls in a certain weight range.

  • amy

    Be yourself have fun no matter ur size love it overweight is not the issue of today it’s people bullying others saying they need to be a certain size to fit in well I say a little more is beautiful

  • Juju bean

    A lot of you people are so ignorant. Not every obese person is unhealthy. Also why do you care so damn much? Why should that person have to hate themselves because being overweight is unacceptable in this society. I used to be curvy thick and gains a lot of weight from being in a relationship and having a child, I know it’s not an excuse but I haven’t gotten the will power to actually stay motivated every time I try. I hated myself for awhile and sometimes I still do. But either way I will always be beautiful, fat or not. I have fat I am not fat!

  • basslady

    i listen to music to unwind and relax not analyze to death. i am busy enough during the day critiquing, analyzing, and reading between the lines. the tune is catchy and happy/upbeat. the refrain is evasive therefore within 3 minutes i don’t see much emotional damage being done. it’s a song people.

  • C Brahm

    ANNOYING song. Hope its 15 minutes are soon up.

  • jayda

    I am thin and i am. Not affended and love this song. Just stop hating.

  • Emily

    In no way shape or form does this song empower ALL women. It puts down skinnier women, and shames smaller body types. Coming from a skinny, small boned female, I can’t help my size just as some women can’t help their bigger figures. No need to go shaming smaller women, especially women who are content with how they look. Sorry that I’m a “skinny bitch”.

  • k.o. Benovis

    fat is unattractive and unhealthy and that is the reason for our natural revulsion of obese people.

  • elizabeth Levine

    The song and comments lead me to wonder if any other naturally “skinny” women find it hard, in a different way, to respond or just deal when people want to fatten you up! Or suggest you are anorexic (not!), or assume skinny means unhealthy (not here). What might help any of us “differently built” (one end of the “curve or other) is to try to put self in other person’s place. For ex., when I see some former photos of me, I see that my arms were pretty lean. Maybe there’s a not-always-conscious concern about health. That the appearance at one end of spectrum or other COULD actually signal a problem and thus in some, an initial negative response, and the desire to fix it!

  • Anchovy Garbanzo

    Sounds like a rip of blurred lines.

  • a happy fat girl

    What? Really? People need to…enjoy things. Enjoy things without deconstructing them for once, and you will find yourself a much happier person. With love, another fat girl

  • mamma_dee

    What’s interesting is that another version of the lyrics, which I heard on Disney radio (i know, i know…), makes no mention of bringing booty back…the words are completely different. I didn’t catch them all but the alternative lyrics say, “I’m bringing BEAUTY back”, and no reference to “skinny b’s’. I can’t find this version on the net as yet, but the words are way more positive and have nothing to do with having junk in one’s trunk.

  • Frank N. Blunt

    Why haven’t I heard this yet?

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