All About That Bass -- Or Is It?

I just don't quite get what so many feminists and bloggers and all-purpose haters are so up in arms about. So Meghan says she isn't a feminist. Does a person have to be a feminist in order to write and sing about her perspective of body love?
10/08/2014 03:47 pm ET Updated Dec 08, 2014

From the time I was eight, all I wanted to do was write songs.

I wrote and wrote and wrote. I wrote for years, dreaming of the day I would hear one of my songs being sung on the radio by a famous singer.

As I got older I found out many other songwriters had the same dream, so I started singing my songs myself.

I entered a few song contests -- one year I even won!

That was the year I realized other people's opinions are just opinions -- nothing less, and certainly nothing more.

That particular year, some people -- people who happened to be contest judges -- liked my song enough to declare it the winner in the Gospel division of the World Billboard Song Contest.

Wow, right?

Not so much.

The song never won any other contests. Some other judges really hated it.

I had this experience with several songs of mine, until I finally got wise and decided to stop entering contests and start keeping my own counsel about my worth as a songwriter, artist, creative, and human being.

Over the last year or so, several major artists have released songs purportedly about body image, self-love, self-acceptance, and, well, body parts (specifically, the booty).

Most recently, young Meghan Trainor's #1 hit, "All About That Bass," has been making the rounds of the airwaves, the talk shows, the culture 'zines, and the feminist literati.

I took 20 minutes out of my life (10 minutes of which I'd really like back) to watch four relatively recent videos of original songs -- each featuring the booty.

The songs I selected:

"All About That Bass" (Meghan Trainor)
"Anaconda" (Nicki Minaj)
"Booty" (Jennifer Lopez)
"Video" (India.Arie)

When I was done viewing (and surfing the Internet to decipher the lyrics), I asked myself which song made me feel most connected -- to my own body, to my self, to other women, to men, to self worth, to everyone around me.

"All About That Bass" took top marks in every category.

In other words, if I had to select one song to serve as my body image mentor, and these were my only four choices, I would choose Meghan's song, no questions asked.

I don't consider myself particularly prudish, and I do my best to refrain from judgment, but honestly, if I hadn't know who was singing and what the song was about, I would have just assumed both "Anaconda" and "Booty" were a) commercials for high-end perfume or jewelry, or b) filmed especially for men (and women) who don't want to admit they watch "real" porn.

But Meghan's song -- well, shoot. I just don't quite get what so many feminists and bloggers and all-purpose haters are so up in arms about. So Meghan says she isn't a feminist. Does a person have to be a feminist in order to write and sing about her perspective of body love?

So Meghan's lyrics at times seem to contradict themselves (whether they actually do or don't is a matter only the songwriter can address).

In the meantime, isn't this -- this contradictory and shaming culture that says one thing and also its opposite and then oh-so-casually asks us to please do both -- the whole point of what Meghan is singing about?

If she says the song is not about feminism but does have a body-positive message, who are we to say it is not? Who are we to think we know better than the person who wrote the song? Or, as she tells Billboard:

I don't consider myself a feminist, but I'm down for my first opportunity to say something to the world to be so meaningful," .... "If you asked me, 'What do you want to say?' it would be, 'Love yourself more.' (from The Guardian)

This whole so-called controversy is starting to feel like it is not "all about that bass" at all -- but about how quickly those of us who have a platform to criticize and want to do so can put down other people's efforts to say what they need and want to say.

Meghan is 20. For having just two decades here on Earth, she is already remarkably passionate, literate, confident, sassy and smart.

When I was Meghan's age, I was barely functioning. I was sick with anorexia and bulimia, lonely, depressed, continually anxious, and totally afraid. Oh, and I hated myself -- inside and out.

And then here is Meghan, balls-to-the-wall going for her dreams, doing what she loves, and doing it with a surprising amount of class for anyone of any age (watch her song and then watch "Anaconda" if you aren't sure what I mean here).

She is the only one of the four singers I could really relate to. The other three (even though I did love India.Arie's song and its message) all featured buff abs and arms, flat tummies, mad makeup, revealing clothing, and a flawless presentation -- the kind of flawless presentation you usually only get after running The Devil Wears Prada's "hair and makeup" gauntlet.

Meghan looked lovely too. And perhaps she also has the abs, etc., but it was harder to tell, because she was dressed in actual clothes. So were her backup dancers. And in her video, the only male dancer was, er, the opposite of buff... and surprisingly nimble nonetheless.

I just think sometimes it is easy to spend more energy criticizing others' efforts to love their bodies (in private or public) than we spend trying to love our own. I sure have done it. I hope to not ever do it again.

So I want to go on record as an advocate who supports Meghan's effort, her talent, her promise, and her potential impact in years to come. She is a more relatable role model -- even to me in my 40s -- than many other young popsters today, and her example may just encourage other young adults to stand up, say "enough is enough," and change the world.

After all, in every culture, in every time period, in every country around the world, the children whom we say are our future grow up to be the young adults who create that future.

Meghan is one of those very young adults and she is out there, active and visible, sharing what she has and who she is with us all.

Perhaps most pertinently, given today's at times life-threatening image and beauty ideals, Meghan is avid about reminding those of us who need reminders that, while it may not be easy at first to embrace our "bass," it is sure worth all the hard work (and a lot of fun to boot) when we finally can!