By Emily Hughes
Whilst on my commute home, half listening to the mid week chart radio something caught my attention, unfortunately for the wrong reasons.
Number two in the UK Top 40 – Nicki Minaj – Anaconda.
Number one in the UK Top 40 – Meghan Trainor – All About That Bass.
That’s the two most popular songs of our nation and they’re about…women’s bottoms.
Considering it’s usually male hip hop artists covering the subject of the female anatomy, and in a derogatory way, it seemed like a positive message. Particularly as Jameela Jamil’s introduction to “All About That Bass” stated that the song is about celebrating the female body and loving yourself.
However, on listening to the lyrics I don’t find that to be entirely true:
“My mama, she told me, don’t worry about your size. She says, “Boys like a little more booty to hold at night. You know I won’t be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll, so if that’s what you’re into then go ahead and move along”
If you push the absurd thought of a boy sucking his thumb, crying for a “booty to hold at night” aside, I think we have a problem, well two actually. Firstly, we have Trainor’s placing women of a bottom heavy demeanour on a pedestal and shaming anything different, in this case thin ladies. Moreover, suggesting A) that male acceptance/love of ones body is key in loving your own body and taking that a step further by B) suggesting that all members of the male gender find this exact body shape attractive, is ridiculous and damaging.This backward stance is mirrored identically by Minaj in “Anaconda” (“I said where my fat ass bitches in the club? Fuck those skinny bitches”)
This really hit a nerve with me as hours earlier, I was praising society with the way attitudes towards women are s l o w l y moving forward. This train of thought was inspired by strong backlash to the unacceptable note handed out by the Rugby players of LSE (whereby they used homosexual and racist slurs, as well as labelling their netball team slags and female rugby team “beastly”) resulted in a formal apology and the disbanding of these patriarchal players. Why is this deemed wrong but female on female slander like that in these songs ignored?
I praise Meghan for the line “don’t worry about your size” and Nicki for trying to destigmatise/reinvent the word “fat”. But other than that, these are not body positive songs. The idea of positive body image is acceptance and celebration of diversity, stemming from opposition to the former, and equally wrong, fat shaming culture, where the ideal was a near unobtainable size 8.
But in my opinion the current state of affairs where a tiny waist and massive behind is championed (Nicki Minaj, Iggy Azalea and Kim Kardashian to name a few) this is even more unrealistic. And whilst “curvy” is a term that is now more widely seen in a positive light, it usually refers to women who are toned (Beyonce and again Nicki Minaj).
Do not misunderstand me, these body shapes are not wrong either, no body shape is “wrong”. The point being made here is that there isn’t a fair representation of “normal” in the media and pressure heavily falls on women and girls to look a certain way. So if women in the limelight are going to claim to promote the female body and loving yourself, it’s so important that they do just that.
Without getting too “final few scenes of Mean Girls” on you, we do just need to bake a cake with rainbows and smiles and reignite the sisterhood. I recognise that feminism isn’t about loving or even liking every other woman or girl out there but if we stopped outwardly shaming each other for looking different, maybe the men would follow suit. I’d like to think that in my lifetime things like the Rugby team’s Freshers note backlash isn’t seen as a positive thing because men don’t write things like that anymore and songs like “Anaconda” and “All About That Bass” are ridiculed for the complete drivel they really are.