I ain’t no skinny b*tch, but I also don’t have buns, hon’: Some Notes on Body Image in the USA today

There’s a movement away from wanting to be “thin” or “skinny,” and I think that’s a good thing. Yet this movement seems to be taking us to the other extreme. We have songs about big butts and magazine covers with women who can hire chefs and trainers to keep them slim, but what about the rest of us? The ones with some fat jiggling here and there, but not necessarily in “all the right places”?

This post is a sort of attempt to address a growing concern I have for the US, and I wonder how body image is addressed in Germany. While abroad, that’s one of the things I’d like to find out.

I am not going to attempt to unravel the great knot of health, fitness, beauty advice and see just what  it is that girls are “supposed” to do nowadays, because I know that  a) I am not going to unravel anything, perhaps just loosen the knots a little and b) there is nothing anyone should “suppose” to do, except for maybe be kind to others, be kind to oneself.

These thoughts were brought by my runs  shortly before I left (dear radio stations: no runner should have to hear the same song twice within one workout hour) and the current hits topping the music charts. The one that come to mind (and that I’ve had to listen to most frequently) is “All About that Bass” by Meghan Trainor.

I must say that this is a totally catchy tune and really enjoyable to listen to. Some of the lyrics are even enthusiastically empowering, especially “every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top”; just the question is, to whom and at what cost?

Good lines:

“Yeah my mama she told me don’t worry about your size”

“I see the magazine workin’ that Photoshop
We know that shit ain’t real
C’mon now, make it stop”

“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”

“I know you think you’re fat
But I’m here to tell ya
Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top”

but then there are some not so good lines, like in the skinny girl bashing:

“stick figure silicone Barbie doll”

“them skinny bitches that”

There’s also some boy stereotyping about what boys “really like”:

“Boys like a little more booty to hold at night.”

“‘Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase”

All about sex, as if that’s the magic act that validates how we look. Being happy with one’s body should not be grounded in how it can please someone else:

“And all the right junk in all the right places”

“I got that boom boom that all the boys chase”

“a little more booty to hold at night”

What we should be singing about:

Being healthy, alive… boys and girls being allowed to love any part of the body of their boy or girlfriend. There’s no such thing as universally sexy.

Rather than talking about how the body we have is/matches some set idea of what’s sexy, whether skinny or curvy, we should be saying that because it’s our body, and we live with it and work with it, we’ve learned to rock it. It’s the things our bodies can do that are important, and if we develop good habits of what we do with our bodies, our bodies will begin to reflect it.

Celebrating the things our bodies can do and the resulting confidence is what makes us sexy, no matter what the size.

Just some thoughts.

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