All About That Bass

I’ve read a couple articles recently about Meghan Trainor’s song, All About That Bass, wherein the writers are complaining that, while it’s great that the song is mainly about accepting your body the way it is, it sucks that it comes at the expense of thinner women. It seems the issue that is most often cited by feminists, is their disappointment in the line in which Meghan Trainor refers to thin women as “Skinny Bitches.” (And other similar points where it seems like Meghan Trainor is putting down thin women in order to bring larger women up.) Ok, yes, this isn’t a nice thing to say, but she then goes on to say “No I’m just playing. I know you think you’re fat” and that she’s “here to tell ya every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top.” And I can’t help but feel that this is being blown completely out of proportion.

How many songs do you know that praise larger people loving their body the way it is? And how many songs do you know praising hot, sexy, thin, women? Even in the beloved 90’s hit, Baby Got Back, a song that I have seen many voluptuous women embracing and dancing their hearts out to, there are repeated comments about the girl’s “itty bitty waist” – not exactly the full-figured anthem that it was often made out to be.

People popping in with comments of “But what about the thin women?!” hit far too close to misogynists popping into feminist discussions screaming “But what about the men?!” Yes, women as a whole are oppressed. However, in regards to body size, fat women face far more oppression and discrimination than thin women ever do. So no, the song isn’t perfect, and hopefully in the future we can live in a more perfect world, but seriously, in the meantime, can we just have this one?

Big Fat Fiona

I enjoy reading books by Sophie Kinsella. I started with the Shopaholic series when someone I know gave it to me for Christmas, and have only recently started reading her stand alone novels. I’m aware that they’re not the most academic of novels, and if I read them from a feminist perspective they’re probably hideous, but I enjoy them as a piece-of-fluff type of a read. When I spend my days reading psychology textbooks, browsing through feminist websites, and analyzing weight loss research articles there are moments when it’s nice to just have something light and airy to read.

When I was most recently reading the book Can You Keep a Secret? I was completely caught off guard. My inner feminist is still breeding and growing inside me, but my body image activist is already alive and well. A character was introduced, Fiona, and as a good author often does Kinsella gave a brief description of her so as to paint a mental picture for the reader. I was floored by the way that Kinsella chose to describe this character though.

“She weighs about 300 pounds and is always campaigning for bigger chairs and wider doorways.”

This is how she summed up this woman. Sophie Kinsella’s beliefs about a woman who weighs 300 pounds is that she has nothing better to do with her time than to campaign for bigger chairs and wider doorways. And that she is so large that she can’t fit into regular sized chairs and regular sized doorways. While I’ll maybe give her the bigger chairs comment, as someone who weighs less than 300lbs I myself sometimes still find there are chairs that don’t quite accommodate my hips, the doorways comment just seems absurd and hyperbolic. I’ve never met a 300 pound woman who couldn’t fit through a doorway. While I do agree that a workplace should be inclusive and accessible for all employees, it was clear in the manner this story was written that she was going for the humorous aspect of this characters size. Because fat shaming is always funny.

Fiona goes on in this paragraph to tell the main character (Emma) to “Never be ashamed of your body.” and to “Rejoice in it!” and later invites her to a body awareness workshop, which are messages that I would be happy to advocate being placed in all books, but having this message assigned to a character who has been so ridiculously described ensures that no one who reads this book is going to take it seriously. She could have just as easily described this character as 300lbs and someone who is happy and loves herself as she is, as all people should, or if she really wanted to have this message be taken seriously she could have just left it at the character being someone who advocates loving yourself regardless of their size, skipping the weight descriptor altogether. But Sophie Kinsella decided to take the fat-is-funny and hyperbole-makes-them-seem-ridiculous route, which has made me lose a lot of respect for her as an author. Kinsella’s books reach a wide audience and she needs to know that fat shaming is almost always hurtful and never funny.

Will a body ever be enough?

In an effort to learn to love my body more, I’ve given up a lot of mainstream media. I don’t currently own a tv or buy magazines, and I try to pay as little attention to advertisements as I can while walking down the street. I haven’t yet given up the internet, but for the most part I spend my time on websites and blogs that are trying to promote positive body image and less time on websites like Cosmo. Because of this I miss out on a lot of the most appalling things that media is doing today, but some of these blogs I read wake me up to the horrific reality that is modern media.

While reading through the blog on About Face I discovered the recent scandal involving some photographs taken of model Karlie Kloss by photographer Greg Kadel. The intent of my post isn’t to call into question the size of the model or the intentions of the photographer, but rather to call into question the actions of Numéro magazine.

Magazines have turned into a double-edged sword where it seems like absolutely no body type is good enough. It starts with only choosing women who they deem to be almost thin enough, and then they photoshop them to be thinner. And now, they have found this elusive body, the body who is on its own actually “acceptable” and is able to make an appearance in a magazine just the size it is, but the reality of it is too offensive to spare even her from photoshop.

Karlie Kloss is dramatically thin, and the reality of that means that her rib cage is prominently visible in the photographs taken by Greg Kadel. Because of this, Numéro magazine went to the effort of photoshopping the photograph so that her ribs were no longer visible. This possibly frustrates me even more than photoshopping a model to make her appear thinner. This woman has somehow achieved the “ideal” body type for this publication, a waist that is finally thin enough that it needs no retouching, and yet she still isn’t good enough. Somehow magazines want a model with this “ideal” body type, but the reality of that body type isn’t something they want to show, and so even this drastically thin model is told that she too, isn’t good enough.

Your very own bottle of sexism and degradation

Ads for liquor so often use women and sexuality in their ad campaigns. While I don’t agree with the constant sexualisation of women that seems to be common place in the media, I can often view it without becoming completely enraged. G-spirits has taken this idea to a whole new level (and along with it, my rage). According to their website (fair warning: the majority of the website is quite pornographic, I’ve linked to the least so of the pages) they believe that taste isn’t the only thing that matters when it comes to enjoying a drink fully. Apparently the feeling that you get from a bottle, including the process it went through while being made, plays a large role in how you experience the taste of what you’re drinking. Inspired by a company who filters their vodka through diamonds (which in itself seems incredibly ridiculous and unnecessary), G-Spirits has taken this to a whole new level and pours their liquor over the breast of a model before bottling (their whiskey being poured over the breasts of this year’s Playmate of the Year).

This is their selling factor, and it’s incredibly degrading to both women and men. With the statement on their website that “there is nothing more than the erotism of a beautiful woman” they have boiled the value of women down to only their looks and what they’re worth as a sexual being. It’s degrading to men because they actually think men are shallow enough to purchase this just because it’s been poured over a woman’s breasts. Women are worth so much more than their “erotism” and looks, and I like to think that the majority of men are smart enough to purchase their alcohol based on its qualities as a spirit, not solely because it’s been poured over a porn stars breasts.