Faux body positivity harms women

As many culture-centered news articles have declared, 2014 was the summer of big booties in the media and music industry. Feminist magazines and social media outlets alike have praised the music industry’s sizable shift towards appreciating women with bigger body types. With songs like Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass,” their appraisal and recognition of this recent change wouldn’t be unfounded in any sense of the word. But what about the rest of the music we’ve sang along to over this past summer that have disregarded “skinny bitches” for girls with curves? Songs like “Wiggle” by Jason Derulo and the infamous “Anaconda” by Nicki Minaj.

While Meghan Trainor told bigger girls that “every inch of you is perfect from your bottom to your top,” all songs like “Anaconda” did was sexualize the idea of a “big booty.” Some may argue that this is a good thing, especially with the way that thinner and smaller frames have become the sexual ideal over the last decade or so (or perhaps throughout all time). However, instead of promoting something new and revolutionizing like “All About That Bass” did, Nicki uses lyrics that borrow from history as well as Sir-Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back.”

“Little in the middle, but she got much back.”

Lyrics likes these don’t give rise to an idea of a beautiful larger girl; rather, they paint the picture of an almost primitive Victorian ideal—smaller skinnier waist, and larger hips—exaggerated proportions that very few girls actually possess in this country and world alike, and those who do possess it are generally on the skinny side. For instance, although Nicki Minaj is of course not stick skinny or the idealized thinness of models in high fashion magazines, she is, in actuality, not a big girl. The media, and seemingly everyone else, has equated Nicki Minaj’s big butt with a big frame. Just because she slanders skinny girls with the somewhat offensive (yet power-reclaiming lyric) “F@#$ Skinny Bitches” does not mean that she is not in fact on the skinny spectrum herself (with the exception of her butt).

Bigger girls are again swept aside because of the media’s need to marginalize and condense people’s bodies. Skinny girls with big butts becomes the new “curvy girl” and nothing gets done. Girls who are not “little in the middle” but rather proportionate to their own big butt are labeled as fat and once again disregarded by most people in society viewing the media. The only thing that a lot of songs this summer that praised the big butt on relatively thin women did was support the idea of a body type that most women don’t have and can only achieve by wearing a corset.

In actuality, songs like “Anaconda,” “Wiggle” and even “Booty” by Jennifer Lopez stifle women of all sizes. They go past the point of being empowering and turn into something that is put on a pedestal for men to objectify. The classic elusive search for thinness becomes the elusive search for thinness and a perfectly round butt—because men, according to these songs, want exactly that. The bombardment of butt-endorsing music has become too much and a way for the media to yet again control how average women feel about their bodies. Not to mention bigger women whose butts aren’t tacked onto the still predominate ideal of a tiny figure. Many of these artists even think they are “re-standardizing” beauty, but they seem to forget that re-standardizing is still standardizing—creating a norm or body ideal for women to follow or try to measure up to.

So, yes, it definitely has been the summer of big butts—but do not misappropriate that with this having been the summer of big girls and body positive messages. Meghan Trainor’s big booty and big body chart-topping anthem is only one in a few songs of its kind in existence. So I guess when it comes to all body types being wholly permitted and accepted in pop-culture on a large scale, we’ll just have to keep waiting.

—Sagine Corrielus ’18 is undeclared.

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