Why I’m not all about that bass.

In her new song, All ‘Bout That Bass, Meghan Trainor sends an inspiring and positive message to women everywhere about body image and how they should feel about themselves. What she has to say  in her song reflects a developing attitude about women and their bodies that is changing the percieved social norm that “skinny is pretty.” In her song, Trainor sings, “No, I won’t be no silicon stick-figure Barbie doll, so if that’s what you’re into then go ahead and move along.” That sounds incredibly positive right? Sure. That single line is. Many people have fallen in love with this catchy song. (I admit to listening to it and maybe even liking it a little. Don’t judge me.)

This new attitude toward body image and self worth is moving along at a tremendous speed, picking up popularity everywhere. There are many “body project” campaigns, aimed at building women’s self-esteem, such as A Beautiful Body Project, an ever-growing collection of beautiful, un-‘Shopped, unedited, un-airbrushed photographs by photographer Jade Beall from Tucson, Arizona. She started her project as a way to tell mothers, and all women, that they are beautiful and amazing just the way they are. Beall says, “I gave birth. And then I saw him. And I saw my markings that he left in his wake of growing and exiting my body. And I tossed out my scale and I took photos of my rolls and the scars and stripes on my skin and of my tears and of my pain and I called it beautiful.” It’s a beautiful message to send, and I’m glad that this view is beginning to permeate the minds and hearts of men and women all over the world.

But here’s why I’m not “all about that bass.”

While some a very few of the song’s lyrics present a positive message, there are a couple lines that still reflect the very mentality that it seems we are trying to distance ourselves from. Trainor repeatedly refers to the fact that boys like her body, the implication being that that is what gives her value and that is what builds her self-esteem. The acceptance of and being chased by men. How is that progressive or positive? How is that freeing and empowering for women? Whether men like your body or not should be irrelevant. That is not where your value comes from and it shouldn’t be what makes or breaks your confidence. That’s not true confidence.

One such lyric is this: “my momma, she told me don’t worry about your size, because boys like a little more booty to hold at night.” First off, how is this making girls feel who are naturally skinny? It’s just a reversal of the former stigma around bigger girls. It’s not irradication of an outdated worldview, it’s just redefining the terms. Are skinny girls pretty, or are bigger girls pretty? Okay, so 10+ years ago you had to be rail thin, but now you have to have a booty for your man to hold onto while he sleeps, like a little kid with a security blanket? Yeah, okay. You can’t use the same thinking to fix the problem that got us here in the first place. (Albert Einstein said that or something). Second, that’s just terrible advice for a mother to giver her daughter! You’re basically telling her that her entire body image and how she feels about her body comes from whether or not men like the size of her ass. That’s horrible. You know why? Because some men don’t like big butts. Or even small butts. Some men, though still attracted to aesthetics, are into this thing called personality. 

This song also places incredibly low expectations on men, making them out to be sex-crazed teenagers that only care about how much booty you have and whether or not you’re going to put out. Really? Really? Is that what defines a man? His overbearing and rampant pursuit of sex that drowns out his ability to function if he so much as glimpses cleavage or kind-of-tight jeans on a shapely girl? This childish portrayal of men boys has become normalized to the point that this is just what women expect. I hear, repeatedly, women referring to their husbands or boyfriends as “an extra child.” Or say that they have “three kids, my two girls and my husband.” What? Come on. If that’s how you want to treat your husband, then that’s absolutely how he’ll act. People do not rise above low expectations, they rise up to the high ones. And let me just say this, a real man who loves you and values you is not going to ask to sample your sexuality, like you’re a piece of merchandise.

So, here’s my question: let’s say you’re a female, you’re average in size and shape, you dress like any normal girl does. You don’t feel pretty. You don’t feel loved. And you don’t feel that you are quite up to standard. What are you going to go to for validation? Well, with everything you hear in the media, with everything that you’re spoon-fed from a young age, it will be a boy that you look to for comfort. A man who makes you feel loved, because he pays attention to your breasts, your butt, your waist, plays with your insecurities, he tells you you’re hot. He might even tell you that he loves you.

But you know what? None of that is what gives you your value or your worth. And, quite frankly, I’m tired of hearing that it is.

So, so much of the advice we give girls about body image and body weight and how they should feel about their bodies centers around what men like, what men want to see, and what men will go for.

We tell our girls things like, “Don’t worry about your acne/body fat/thighs that touch/uneven breasts/big nose/etc., most men don’t care about that kind of thing, and if they do then he’s not worth your time.” Tell me this: Since when does someone else’s sexualization and objectification of your body make you beautiful or lovable? It might temporarily fill the void, and make you feel worth something for a short period, but it will never replace what you were made for, or Whom you were made to be loved by.

The Bible says that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. The Bible says that you are already loved beyond comparison or measure, without doing anything, and without earning it. And you get your worth and value from an eternal Savior who died in your place to allow you into His kingdom. 

This is what dictates your value, and it is eternal and can never be changed. Not by some boy who tells you you’re hot (or not). Not based on how much booty you do (or don’t) have. And definitely not based on whether (or not) boys chase your boom boom. (See, how stupid does that sound when you actually say it?)

“May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” – Ephesians 3:19, NLT

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” -John 3:16, ESV

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” -Psalm 139:14

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30

Alena Rivas is a college student from Tucson, Arizona. She has been married since August, 2013. She and her husband don’t have kids yet, but they hope to once she graduates! Alena writes about life, love, loss, and God. She works to incorporate her own experiences in such a way as to inspire others and encourage people to think about things in new ways. If you like her writing and want to keep up with it better or just want to have access to her awesome witticisms that may not always end up in blog posts, you can find her on Facebook (facebook.com/authoralenarivas), Twitter (@MrsAlenaeous), and Google+ (Alena Rivas).

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Death is not a punchline.

Dying isn’t funny. It never has been, never will be. It shouldn’t be the butt of a joke, ever. It’s not okay to tell people that they should die or kill themselves. It doesn’t matter how funny you think you’re being, it’s not a laughing matter. When someone dies, it’s a tragedy that breaks the hearts of many people around them. Imagine if it were your sister, brother, father, mother, beloved aunt or uncle. A close friend. Imagine them gone from your life, for good. Never a chance to speak to them again, to tell them you love them, no more chances for hugs or laughing together or a silly fight. Are you still laughing? No? Didn’t think so.

Whether an accidental death, or a suicide, it’s not a joke. And joking about people dying, about killing people, or about people killing themselves only adds to insensitive attitude that we seem to have toward death. We see it in movies, on TV, we “kill people” in video games. We think nothing of it. Until its someone close to us. Then suddenly it takes on a whole new meaning.

Your words and how you use them matters.

It matters because it affects everybody around you. Your words become your beliefs, become your habits, become your life. It matters because what you think has a direct correlation with what you think. And what you think and say affects what others say and think. Tell somebody that they should kill themselves one too many times, and they do it. Tell someone that death, or someone else’s pain, is funny too many times, and you end up with people who have no ability to empathize. You wind up with bullies and abusers.

If you think death can or should be part of jokes, then talk to someone who’s had a friend die in a war, in a car accident, or from suicide. Ask a soldier who’s watched men die, maybe at his own hands. Ask someone who’s been told that they should die. Look at their scars, physical and emotional. Then tell them its funny. See how they react.

What disturbs me is when people say that Muslims should die, or go kill themselves. There is a viral post on Facebook (I won’t link to it, you can go find it if you really want to) that is supposed to be a joke, about how American women should walk outside naked on a certain day to “week out the terrorists” since Islamic men must commit suicide if they see a woman other than their wife naked. The post goes on, mocking Islamic beliefs about nudity, alcohol, and sex. It essentially equates “Muslim” with “terrorist” and insinuates that they should all go kill themselves. There are other connotations made in this post about Americans that are equally as shameful, regarding nudity, respect for our bodies, etc. but that’s for another post.

But nobody should ever be told that they should kill themselves. Regardless of skin color, religion, body type, sexuality, musical preferences (yes, people actually tell other people to go commit suicide because of their musical preference), grammar, spelling, years of schooling, political preferences, or any other reason, ever. Ever.

It’s not okay.

Making death a punchline is never okay.

I know too many people who are pained daily by the actual loss of family members or friends, or who do, or have, struggle(d) with suicide because of the hurtful words of others.

So please, just stop. 

Death is not a punchline.