DISCLAIMER: I’m not looking for a fight. If you disagree with me let’s have a discussion about it. I like those. I also am not standing up for or speaking out against Meghan Trainor. I’m just writing about my feelings and hoping it comes to a logical conclusion.
Oh Meghan Trainor. There always seems to be something in your songs that makes people go nutso on the interwebs.
When “All About That Bass” came out I was SOOOO EXCITED for about 3 seconds of the song… Until she started saying things about “skinny bitches”. Having been accused of being too skinny/anorexic/attention-seeking because I have body image issues, I took issue with that. I also took the lyrics with a grain of salt because I’m willing to bet that dear Meghan didn’t realize the hurtful way those words could be taken.
When I read about her saying she “tried to be anorexic” and then got hungry and ate, I got angry. Starvation is not the only facet of anorexia and eating disorders in general. And NO ONE I know who is actually diagnosed with an eating disorder up and decided to have one. It’s a mental thing, and it’s VERY COMPLICATED, and caused by oh so many things. Trivializing it is disrespectful and proves a lack of understanding.
I want so hard to believe that Meghan doesn’t understand that the words in her songs are kind of missing the mark. I want to believe that she thinks she’s a feminist and is doing what she wants because it makes her happy. It’s getting harder to believe that though, because….
Enter “Dear Future Husband“.
This video is so much fun. She went with a 1950s theme, including some doo-wap boys. I love her costumes, I love the sound, I love how playful it is! But the words. If only I didn’t listen to the words of songs! I think this is a classic episode of “Meghan didn’t quite get it”. This 21 year old sings about all the things her future husband must do to win her love and keep her happy. Some things are totally reasonable. Treat her well, take her on dates sometimes, remember their anniversary. Other things are not so excellent. She implies that if he doesn’t tell her she’s pretty she won’t love him anymore. She wants full on chivalry with opening doors for her and buying her expensive things in exchange for some fun times in the bedroom.
The scenes in the video imply she wants to be waited on hand and foot. There are a string of scenarios where she ditches her current beau because he fails to do something masculine enough, or properly. She doesn’t like the guy who brings her a big heart box of chocolates, the guy who can’t row a boat properly, the guy who can’t make the bell ring on that carnival game you hit with a big hammer… She eventually sticks with the guy who brings her a pizza.
Now, I’m not sure what her goal was. If she didn’t have a big thought out plan for a message, fine. I don’t have a problem with that. I think she shouldn’t produce anything that she DOESN’T think out like that, but it’s her career and not mine. Maybe this is how she wants her life to work. If that’s true cool. Far be it for me to judge how she wants her life to play out. However, what I’m hoping is that this was supposed to be satirical and we all missed the memo.
The reason I think that’s a possibility is because of the part where she mentions his 9-5 and also hers. She says she’s busy so don’t expect her to bake pies all the time. The video has a cartoon-y feel. It’s so over the top that it naturally feels like satire, but who knows. Cartoon-y is in. If I’m right and she did mean this to be funny, or commentary on gender norms in marriage, then yay Meghan! You should probably let people know that’s what you meant! And next time, maybe do it better! But yay! If it’s not meant that way, then, well… oh well.
The reason I care about this is that Meghan Trainor is a very visible person. I know at least one 8 year old who adores “All About That Bass”. I want that little girl to grow up with solid role models who demonstrate healthy body image, self assurance, and pride. The internet explodes every time she has a new song because she 1. has a catchy voice and style about her. She’s everywhere all the time forever and 2. she misses the mark with her message every single time. And so far she doesn’t appear to have learned from her “mistakes”.
So in the wake of this most recent video the internet is freaking out. Half of it is criticizing her for not being a feminist, the other half (her die hard fans) are criticizing Meghan’s critics because yelling at someone for not being a feminist is a very not feminist value. It’s all very confusing, and I’m staying out of the fray (mostly) because I don’t want to get a headache while reading badly worded tweets. I do care though, for a very simple reason. There is no one “right” picture of what a feminist looks like.
Feminism means that a woman can stay home with her kids if she wants, or go back to work when her kids are babies. THAT IS ENTIRELY UP TO HER. Feminism also means that a man can stay home with the kids while the woman works. Or both women can work. Or both men. EQUALITY FOR EVERYONE! One situation is not better than another, because each family is different. The fact that people are yelling at her for not being a feminist is frustrating me. Wouldn’t it be more constructive to criticize her apparent inability to convey her message clearly? Maybe we should find out what she meant instead of instantly screaming NOT A FEMINIST NOT A FEMINIST SHE IS CLEARLY SENT BY THE DEVIL.
My point, and I swear I have one, is whether or not Meghan Trainor subscribes to traditional gender roles we should offer her the opportunity to explain herself. At the very least we shouldn’t write her off because she did a video where she scrubbed a floor while wearing pearls. Maybe she finds that fun. Maybe she’s a feminist, maybe she’s not. If she’s not I’m sad, cuz equality is fun and good. If she is… Well, some people struggle with communication. We should all just chill out. And talk about this. Calmly and in a constructive manner, because that’s how things change.