Meghan Trainor’s #1 Hit “All About That Bass” – Body Positivity or Misogyny?


A Body Image Breakthrough?

meghan trainor all about that bass

Meghan Trainor on The Today Show

Meghan Trainor sings she’s ‘bringing booty back’ in her new hit song “All About That Bass.”  Some say it’s a fun, catchy tune that boldly promotes body acceptance – or body celebration – even if you aren’t a “size two.”  Other say that it reinforces a superficial and misogynistic view of women.

The positive message of this controversial song may be in doubt – but with over 18 million views on YouTube (and climbing) and roughly half a million in sales in less than two months since making her debut, it’s obvious that the 20-year-old pop phenom has struck a powerful chord with young girls. “Bass” has rocketed it to Billboard’s Number One on Digital Songs, while displacing such pros as Jessie J, Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj and Iggy Azalea.

Critiquing The Message and the Messenger

With society’s pressure on women and girls to look a certain way, “Bass” appears to be – at first blush – one young woman’s rebellious anthem that has quickly cultivated an enthusiastic following. According to Trainor, the song is meant as a declarative statement that sexy doesn’t come in one size, and women of all shapes have a right to feel good about their bodies.  

When writing the song, I was thinking about girls today…and the message of the song is to love your body no matter what,” said Meghan.

Some critics, however, say “Bass” perpetuates misogynistic stereotypes and opens itself up to ridicule. One blogger, Jenny Trout, questions why this song is being touted as positive message for women in the first place, and points out male bands who have covered the song “up the ante on the misogyny and body shaming” in their versions:

Former X-Factor competitors Emblem3 have covered “All About That Bass.” See how you feel about lines like, “Us guys like a little more booty to hold at night,” and “It’s pretty clear she ain’t no size two/but she can shake it shake it/the way she’s supposed to do,” when you’re listening to young men sing them…Are we supposed to applaud this? It’s positive to hear young men trash “skinny bitches,” just so some women can feel better about not fulfilling a standard of beauty they’re longing for?  ~ Trout Nation

Good point, but is Trainor to blame for not being progressive enough or in the ‘right’ way? Does “Bass” deserve to be ridiculed because male bands have chosen to do so?

“Skinny Bitches”

Perhaps this song is just a sad reflection of our society. The reality is that teen girls are preoccupied with wanting to be attractive and sexy to boys, and if their bodies aren’t a socially acceptable size, they can face horrendous weight stigma and bullying that leaves them vulnerable to eating disorders and long-term psychological damage.

Read This Related Article:
Loving Our Bodies

It may be that society is more deserving than “skinny bitches” of Trainor’s thinly veiled anger (and heaven forbid that a woman express anger – or anger directed at other women), but I wonder if it’s not better for women who feel disenfranchised to express some anger rather than turning it on themselves with all-too-common, self-destructive eating behaviors.

Trainor relates how some young girls who have been bullied say they’ve found solace and hope in her lyrics:

“I tear up and I call my mom like, ‘Did you see that? Did you read that one?’ because some girls are like, ‘I’ve hated myself. I hated life. I didn’t want to go to school. I get bullied. And then I heard your song and I cried,'” said Meghan. “They say they cried because they’re happy and they dance around the room. And I was just like, ‘What?’ It’s crazy.”

Yes, it is crazy. Our society has a mental illness when it comes to women and weight. Isn’t it crazy that a song that champions the sexiness of average-to-large body sizes is seen as a breakthrough?

Society Sorely Lacking In Positive Body Images

The “skinny bitches” lyric is getting a lot of attention, but Trainor also points out how society isn’t doing enough to change how it portrays women in the media:

I see the magazines working that Photoshop
We know that shit ain’t real
Come on now, make it stop  

As consumers, we have a lot of power we aren’t exercising. How long would it take for women’s magazines to change their imagery if we started a boycott? By buying – and buying into – the thin-crazed media message, women are their own worst enemies. Talk about reinforcing misogynistic stereotypes!

Read This Related Article:
When Body Positivity Feels Impossible

While a song that focuses on how women with “all the right junk in all the right places” are just as sexy to men as a “stick thin Barbie Doll” is inherently limited in it’s progressiveness, some say that it still holds a positive message:

I know you think you’re fat,
But I’m here to tell you that,
Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top!

Would “Bass” have risen to number one on the charts with a different beat or melody? Perhaps not. Are there other songs by female artist that do a better job of promoting body acceptance without playing into stereotypes?  I’m sure there are, but that doesn’t explain why this particular song has gone viral.

“Bass” Apparently Fills A Body Positivity Void

Ultimately, the song’s popularity with fans – who are calling themselves “Megatrons” – demonstrates how desperate teen girls are to feel good about their bodies. Meghan herself laments how she could have used a song like hers when she faced peer pressure and body image issues in school:

“I wish there was a song like this when I was 13,” said Meghan, admitting that she’s not always confident. “It’s all mostly in my head. I would sit there in class like, ‘I know they are judging me right now. I know they’re picking on me.’ So it helped me a lot, watching this video and seeing the comments that were positive.”

Whether you think the song is deserving of being dubbed a “body acceptance breakthrough” is up to you. For me, the positive aspect of “Bass” is that it has generated global discourse on body image, body acceptance and weight stigma. People are talking about these issues from all sides and perspectives. And clearly, as a society, we need to have that discussion.

You Decide: Watch the “All About That Bass” Music Video

Read the full All About That Base lyrics here.

Is “All About That Bass” is a positive or negative message for women? Why do you think it’s so popular?

26 responses to “Meghan Trainor’s #1 Hit “All About That Bass” – Body Positivity or Misogyny?”

  1. AmberLynn Pappas says:

    When I was a freshman in high school NoDoubt released “Just a Girl”. It has no reference to body type other than “typical prototype”, if you can even call that a reference. But, it made a huge impact on me in regards to being proud of being a girl and not letting anyone define me by standards of women in “second place” to men. I think there is a need for songs, art, writing, etc that expresses positive female images whether they refer to body types or other standards, but in all of that it should never put down another woman. What is wrong with the “stick thin Barbie Doll” if that’s how a girl naturally occurs to be? Let’s be accepting of women and people of all shapes and sizes for who they are as a person.

  2. Laura Brooks says:

    That is definitely one of the major criticisms of this song: the pitting of women against women for men’s attention. I suspect that this song is so popular because it expresses the resentment and competition towards ‘thin’ women that young women may feel, but – ultimately – putting down other women for their ‘thin’ body size is no better than being marginalized for having a larger body size.

  3. Tori says:

    I honestly do not like this song simply because, I am a size 4 and now I’m being horribly bullied because I’m not all about the bass! I get constant remarks saying that I have no curves and no man will want me, and people singing that song as I walk past. It hurts! I just wish she didn’t put the bit with “na I’m just playing, I know you all think you’re fat” because I do not think I’m fat, I’m skinny, it’s as much as a body shape as being curvy is! It’s okay for people to call me anorexic but not okay for me to call them fat! I wouldn’t call them fat, just saying, but being called skinny hurts just as much as being called fat! Don’t you think I want something to put into a bikini? I don’t like being so skinny, just as much as an overweight person does not like being overweight! This song has really impacted me negatively ):

    • Max says:

      Skinny girls are getting a lot of hate from all this “Curves are better and skinny sucks” hype. It’s all so stupid, it’s stupid because they feel like the victims when they’re clearly not. It’s all mad, I don’t know where all it came from, it’s a huge campaign of hate against the skinny girls, just to win self-esteem without doing anything.

      They say that you can’t judge, then shout a lot of awful things to any skinny girl, as if everything was their fault.

      It’s okay if they want to feel good, it’s okay if they don’t want to lose weight, but that attitude of “We are ‘curvy’ we are better, skinny girls are awful, everyone love ‘curves’ eww, stay away skinny btch OH NO, YOU CALLED ME FAT, YOU’RE A MONSTER, I AM NOT FAT, I AM ‘CURVY'” is stupid. (And “curvy” doesn’t even mean the thing that they say now)

      • Laura Brooks says:

        Society has been telling women of average and above average weight that they are not acceptable for decades, yet history has shown that women of all sizes at one time or another have been considered beautiful. Bound feet in China, long necks in Burma, cone-shaped heads in central Africa and – in our modern culture – thinness. Beauty standards always seem to change but they consistently marginalize those that do not conform, and many times force women into unnatural and unhealthy practices to attain the current ‘beauty ideal’. Why can’t we accept all types of beauty when we know from history that it truly is in the eye of the beholder? Pitting “Thin vs Curvy” women against each other is counterproductive. I’m hoping that people will learn to be more accepting of size diversity and focus on their health, not weight.

    • KC says:

      I know exactly what you mean! There are many people who are naturally thin and get made fun of for not having a large butt. This song is supposed to make women feel better, but I feel like it is also attacking young ladies who are thin.

  4. Laura Brooks says:

    Hi Tori – thanks for sharing. Just goes to show that any woman can be impacted by judgements about weight, no matter their size, and if society was more accepting of body diversity, it wouldn’t be as divisive and judgmental as it is now.

  5. iyamrocky says:

    Loving the song – great beat and I can dance to it. LOL
    Loving the words and the message – if you don’t like it or can’t relate to it “just move along” – there’s millions more for you to listen to.

  6. Laura Brooks says:

    A lot of people must agree with you, Rocky. When I wrote this article there were 18 million views. Now the video has over 60 million.

  7. BML says:

    ummmm….anybody remember TLC’S Unpretty? That sends the right message. Doesn’t matter what is on the outside, what matters is that you look on the inside and learn to like yourself, or people will have the power to make you feel “unpretty”. These songs that promote loving the physical body and putting down bodies that are not like yours are missing the mark.

    • Laura Brooks says:

      BML – Just watched that on youtube. Really like the message of reclaiming your personal power. Thanks for your bringing up this point in your comment.

      ”Never insecure until I met you
      Now I’m bein’ stupid
      I used to be so cute to me
      Just a little bit skinny
      Why do I look to all these things
      To keep you happy
      Maybe get rid of you and then I’ll get back to me (hey)”

  8. Anon says:

    I think the fact she says “Skinny Bitches” is very rude. And mean, not to mention bullying in it’s own way. I, and many ”skinny” people I know have an illness which stops up from eating a lot, because we get ill if we eat what we can’t manage. I can only eat small portions, and if I try to eat more I’ll be very ill. She shouldn’t say all skinny people are bitches – besides, she’s not even big – she’s actually rather thin. Whilst I think it’s stupid that everyone thinks you HAVE to be skinny, for some people it’s not a choice – she should take that into consideration next time. (Sorry, English isn’t my native)

    • Laura Brooks says:

      If she had written “haters” or “bullies” instead, the song would have been less offensive and more on point really. Your comment shows how difficult it is to override physical conditions and genetics so we all need to be more accepting of our own and each other’s natural weight.

    • KC says:

      I personally am a naturally skinny person. Heck I’m a size 2! I eat as much as I want, but I can never gain any weight. I play sports and eat fairly healthy yet I find myself having trouble gaining weight. When I first listened to this song I thought it was pretty good. It had a nice beat and a kind message to young girls, but as I listened to it more I began to feel like skinny people were being some what attacked. Calling young ladies “skinny bitches” is not okay. If this song is about making teen girls feel better then why is it necessary to tear some of them down? Just because Megan is “all about that bass” that doesn’t mean that she should bash ladies who are thinner. Some people can’t help if they are skinny or if they are curvy. Now Megan if you know that people can’t help how much they weigh why are you going to bash people who don’t weight very much?

  9. Sapphire says:

    In my opinion this song is very nice but what most people are not taking into consideration is the fact there are not lyrics after the “skinny b****s” part. They are focusing on those lyrics and those alone because right after that she says ” no, I’m just playing I know you think your fat” which I agree with some people that can be offensive but again I am looking at the lyrics as a whole literally the next sentences are”but in here to tell you that every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top.” So yes at times the song can be offensive. But as a whole I think she is trying to say that everyone it perfect no matter what their size may be.

  10. Dave says:

    I just saw the video today, never heard of the song or artist. Being a 57 year old PhD clinical psychologist, this type of singing/video rarely comes to my attention — serendipity. All that said, my initial impression of the song was FAVORABLE. Laura, you may take a bow for your thoughtful and reasoned approach to evaluating the song, as compared with others such as Trout. My male intuition, upon first viewing the video, was that it is a self-affirmation of body type/shape/size, containing of course some humor. At first I thought no treble was “no trouble.” Many are overinterpreting this song, and are prone to the cognitive distortion of magnification. It’s just a song, people! I am impressed with thing young woman’s work.

    • Laura Brooks says:

      Thanks, Dave! No one can deny the Meghan’s incredible achievement with the success of her song. It’s now up to 300+ MILLION views on youtube. And, in her own defense to the “skinny-bashing” accusations, Meghan said in a Billboard interview people need to understand the full line is “”I’m bringing booty back. Go ‘head and tell them skinny bitches that. No, I’m just playing, I know you think you’re fat. But I’m here to tell you, every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top.” Her meaning is that she knows that even skinny girls struggle with how they feel about their bodies.

      • Dave says:

        Thanks as well for your reply, Laura. I do appreciate your response. I want to say a couple things, after which I will likely disappear until another unusual song/video comes my way.

        First, this is a song written by someone at age 19. Even if the lyrics are judged as stupid, inane, or politically incorrect, so what? The lyrics are thoughtful and witty, to me. Hail iconoclasts! Why is this song being cross-examined in detail? Those who criticize have thousands of songs to rip to shreds, if they want. Don’t get me started on which ones ……. 😉

        Second, the self-affirmation idea is the heart and soul of the song. Why do so many people not understand that? That is a major reason why it has been such a huge hit. Lots of people have been touched by its message.

        I wonder how big a role the co-writer took. This will likely never be disclosed in full detail, but, once again, so what. It’s a song, people!

        • Janice says:

          It is not self affirmation if it derides subtly or “in your face” the “other”.

          That’s like small breasted woman taunting big breasted woman as “saggy titties”.

          Self affirmation songs would be TLCs Unpretty and Christina’s Beautiful. The messages of these songs is that self affirmation comes from within NO MATTER WHAT OTHERS SAY. All about the Bass gets affirmation from “what men SUPPOSEDLY(maybe men into porn as the song even didn’t acknowledge that like women, men have diverse preferences) like”.

          She should just own the song as it being self objectifying than self empowering. Yes it is just a song. And it should stop there. She should nor her fans should call it “empowering” especially if it derides the other and the ones who do not have the “booty”.

          The biggest irony here is that he spanx can be seen in her music video…that makes the song even more hypoctritical

  11. Janice says:

    Her saying that a song like that could have been released when she was 13 is really ridiculous!


    Also, TLCs Unpretty was released about 1997 or 1998. The video even is also as powerful as the song about self acceptance. Christina Aguilera’s Beautiful (I am Beautiful no matter they say, words CANT bring me down) was also a massive hit in the early 2000s. Was she living under a rock or was she just finding an excuse to subtly put down “the other” and talk about male validation(which is even ridiculous as the song supposes that all men are attracted to the same “kind” which is even farther from reality) to up (band aid style) her self esteem ? Unless most songs she voluntarily listens to are the ones that constantly degrades women as a whole (was she listening to Eminem growing up?)

    • Laura Brooks says:

      Thanks for your comments. I love the songs you mention. I think that this song is different in that it specifically talks about body size; it’s a challenge to describe or discuss women being sexy and attractive to men without seeming shallow or sexist because it is an inherently shallow and often sexist phenomenon shaped by society.

      I’m not defending the self-objectification that you mention; I’m just pointing out the difficulty of describing the attractiveness of body size, which is a physical characteristic and not an abstract concept of self-acceptance. The whole point of the song is to validate that, on a very basic level, larger bodies can be just as attractive as thinner ones to the opposite sex.

      As much as one would like to see physical appearance carry less weight (pardon the pun) in our society, the reality is that it still is a major factor in self-esteem, social acceptance, and so on. The song “All About That Bass” has ventured into that volatile space between the present and what we believe the future should be.

      Yes, other non-physical characteristics should also be just as or even more important in attractiveness, but the majority of eyes out there still behold beauty as being thin and there can be a high cost to mental and physical health for women if they do not conform (or when they do try) to conform to that standard.

      “Bass” serves a purpose in pointing out — on a purely physical basis — that sexiness doesn’t come in one size. I think that message does need to be heard.

  12. Harriet Krivit says:

    Aside from a very successful song itself, what the artist does with their fame, particularly if it’s so big and sudden as Megan’s, speaks volumes. Megan came back to Nantucket (raised and grew up here) over the holidays, sat for over 3 1/2 hours to raise much needed money for the historic Methodist Church. Waited till everyone in a long line got to meet her and get an autographed pic if they wanted.
    Saw nothing covering this except for our local newspaper.
    Re: The word “permanence”, concerning size/weight and food and eating issues, can suggest an unreachable goal. For me and many other’s, the physiological/psychological/emotional and unique pleasurable state of eating food may often be an ongoing managing process (a great success in itself), like many chronic undesired conditions or afflictions.

  13. Emily says:

    I never cared much for this song. I don’t like the background music, and I agree that the message could be said better. However, the thing that first made me roll my eyes about it is the fact that I can’t relate to the song anyway because Meghan is not at all what I would consider a bigger woman or overweight (so following that thought, women around her size are the kind of “big” girls guys like, that’s true, not people my size. If I were the kind of person to care much about songs, it would make me feel bad about myself instead of positive). I think that just may be a pet peeve of mine, and it’s good that some other people get a positive message out of it. Still, there was no need to put any other body types down in her song. A better balance of all body types in all forms of media would be appreciated instead of keeping them in their separate categories.

  14. Diane says:

    She’s a young girl who’s 30 pounds overweight. Why do we have to believe that’s okay or even something to glorify?

  15. Laura Brooks says:

    Much research has shown that being overweight is not necessarily unhealthy, and it is not a crime to be overweight nor does it make someone automatically unattractive.

    I encourage you to read more about the Health at Every Size movement and learn some surprising facts about weight (source: : “a) on average, people who are overweight outlive normal weight people b) no studies have shown that weight loss prolongs life c) biology dictates that most people regain the weight they lose, even if they continue on their diet and exercise programs.”

    Also take a look at a fascinating experiment which showed how hard it was for THIN people to get fat. Some subjects ate 10,000 calories a day to gain weight and, when the study was over, the subjects had no difficulty returning to and maintaining their original weight. Researchers concluded that weight is “more strongly inherited than nearly any other condition, including mental illness, breast cancer or heart disease.”

    It is this notion that extra weight is unhealthy and completely under a person’s complete control that fuels weight stigma and this ‘obesity epidemic’ fear.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About the Author