Sep 2014
Josie Bungert

Where are the women with “bass” (and not treble)?

I try really hard not to get ranty about occurrences in pop culture, since it’s not something I can control, nor is it something I should really exhaust myself being concerned about. But this was one I could not pass up writing about, since it really did strike a chord.

Meghan Trainor, a newbie popstar, recently released her first major single “All About That Bass.” I heard it, and really did dig the message. As a woman who is “not a size two” as she says in her song, she goes on to talk about how size doesn’t matter, how you’re perfect “from the bottom to the top,” and talks profusely about her big booty that she is proud of (the full lyrics are here). I love how she was opening up a dialogue, and it was from a first person experience.

Overall, though the tune didn’t immediately grab me, the lyrics did, and I found myself listening to it on my own. However, the love quickly subsided when I saw Trainor perform it for the first time.

I saw her perform on Live with Kelly and Michael (a show I adore), and was incredibly unimpressed. Actually, that’s an understatement. I was Pissed. Off.

Trainor was exactly as I had pictured from the way she describes herself in the song, not a size two, and very proud of her figure and look. So my issue wasn’t with her, it was with her backup dancers.

They. Were. Twigs.

Now, before you get all mad at my phrasing, lemme say they were strong, incredible, beautiful dancers. But this was not the time or place for them, in my opinion. As a dancer of 17 years, I have been blessed to stand beside gorgeous, thin, and strong dancers just like the ones I saw here. They were talented, and deserved to be so well appreciated in dance classes.

But, more importantly to me, I got to dance with some girls that were not Natalie Portman in Black Swan. They were full-figured, full-busted, and full of talent. These girls included myself, because not only have I never been stick thin, I was a dancer who loved ballet that had to basically glue the ladies down (with three sports bras) if I didn’t want them whacking me in the face during pirouettes.

Needless to go on, these dancers exist, and they are exquisite. And, worse, Trainor knows that, because some of the women in her official music video? NOT twigs.

Though some of her dancers are the same ones, others are not. They have butts, boobs, and thighs. They’re in shape, can dance, but are the women that this song is all about (and even one guy). And, she even included a woman in the video who is supposed to be the “model” that Trainor doesn’t care to be, who is thin, like the dancers on the live performance.

Additionally, even with some of the dancers being the same, in the live performance, her dancers were skantily clad, showing their stomachs and their fit figures, while Trainor was not. She was basically covered entirely, making her stick out like a sore thumb among the dancers. In the music video, the dancers were in dresses, costumes that actually showed their curves and real shapes, and complimented Trainor’s making them look like a cohesive group (and message). The images she was attempting to address were different in the live performance than in the music video, making the statement of the song incredibly contradictory.

So, why are the dancers for this song not what the way women are okay to be, in Trainor’s message? Even though she has performed on other stages that I haven’t seen, this was her debut performance of this song. I got an incredibly different point of view on the song after seeing it performed than just listening to it.

I guess it just irks me that, even though other artists have sung about being yourself, no matter who that person is, that a woman who exemplifies it and truly believes it couldn’t be bothered to hire women that she defends in this tune, much less speak up. Even though I am sure she isn’t in charge of all of the backup dancers, I can’t imagine she feels comfortable dancing and singing alongside women on a live stage that are not even in the same category that she’s singing about. Sure, she does say that everyone is perfect, which would leave room for inclusion of the skinny, fit dancers, but I want to see that she means it. I want her to bring some of the people from her video to her next performance (maybe even the male, who killed his splits at the end of the music video). Maybe then she’ll gain a fan back, but for now, this average-sized-busty-dancer is not one of them.

Do you agree? Disagree? Tweet at me, @jlbungert