Last summer, it felt as if every conversation led to an impassioned analysis of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines.” The song was played constantly and seen as surprisingly topical. At least, it fit well as a negative example for countless social justice issues, and only selectively as a positive one. The song became iconic through its infamy. But the candidate for this summer’s song has material meant to be analyzed and discussed.
“All About that Bass,” debut song for songwriter Meghan Trainor, has blown up, getting nearly the same kind of attention “Blurred Lines” got last year. But this kind of attention has a much more positive nature – Trainor’s song is seen not only as the song of the summer, but also as the body image movement’s anthem. Or at least, a song meant to ignite the conversation. In other words, I knew I had to get in touch with her before she was completely booked. And luckily, I reached her just in time for an email interview:
JR: What is the significance of the title?
MT: In music, Bass is the thick bottom sound so I compared that to a thick body or a thick booty. Treble is the high, thinner sounds so I compared that to super thin.
JR: Did you originally intend for the song to be an anthem for body image?
MT: Yes but I wrote it for me at the time as a songwriter and 19 year old girl struggling with self acceptance. I never thought I would get the opportunity to share it with the world and help others with their insecurities. It’s a great feeling!
JR: How did Sione Maraschino, the Vine star, get involved in the project?
MT: Fatima Robinson, my director, found him on Vine and mentioned his name and I was already a fan so I freaked out and told her “I hope he will want to do it!!”
JR: What was the inspiration for the video?
MT: Fatima sent me “I like big butts” video and [Beauty School Drop Out] from Grease… and said I want to make something that feels like both of these visuals in one. She said she wanted all pastel colors with an innocent look while dancers and I doing booty popping moves. I completely agreed and loved how it came out.
JR: You have said in interviews that you wrote this piece “for yourself.” How did that intention affect your creative process?
MT: It made it easier. My cowriter, Kevin Kadish and I wrote it very quickly because it came from a real place. I started free styling the rap in the first verse and the rest followed. As a songwriter, you realize it will be hard to pitch a song to an artist when the first line is “I ain’t no size 2”. Plus it is not a traditional song to sing, because it is a mixture of rap and singing and harmonizing. When we finished recording, Kevin looked at me and said “you should be the artist for this song”
JR: There has been a lot of controversy over the lines referencing “skinny bitches.” What was the thought process behind that stanza, particularly the phrase “I know you think you’re fat”?
MT: Yes, I’ve been getting a lot of controversy over this line. I never wrote it to “bash skinny people”, if you listen to the lyrics I follow the “skinny bitches” line with “nah I’m just playing I know ya’ll think you’re fat, but I’m here to tell you every inch of you is perfect.” I know skinny, beautiful people who look in the mirror and find fault with what they see. We all have our insecurities. We all struggle with it (I know I do) and I wrote this song to help me and the fact that it actually does helps other people is the greatest feeling ever.
JR: What do you think about the word “fat” and its negative connotations?
MT: For such a small word, it can bring so much hurt and sadness to the people that it is directed to. I hope my song helps and starts some kind of change. If not, then I’ll still know I’ve helped some people and helped myself love my body and my insecurities more, and that’s cool with me.
When it comes to body positivity, there are various schools of thought. Many, like Trainor, actively embrace their own body type in order to counteract societal standards. Unfortunately, this can result in another set of standards that are just as exclusionary. Others fight for a more universal acceptance, which sometimes ignores the oppression that certain body types have suffered. Despite a few questionable word choices, the song appears to be more about Trainor embracing her personal body type, and encouraging others to do the same. In fact, it seems as if she’s embracing some negative imagery associated with body image in order to call it out. For example, her line “I know ya’ll think you’re fat…” could be seen as a perpetuation of the idea that fat equals bad. Clearly, there are other words Trainor could have used there, but they might not have packed the same punch as a word with so much stigma.
No matter what, I’m just glad that this summer’s hit is a woman’s tribute to body image, instead of a man’s speculation of female sexuality.