In September, I was watching The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. That night he had Meghan Trainor on his show performing “All About that Bass” with classroom instruments. It got me to look up the song again, to listen to it, and to appreciate its great message.
For those who aren’t familiar with the song, it invokes a whole array of musical styles: within the context of pop it incorporates a bit of doo-wop, a bit of reggae, some hip-hop, and a bit of other pop classics (The Black Eyed Peas “Boom Boom Pow” and Justin Timberlake’s “I’m Bringing Sexy Back” are present in the song, for example). Hearing the song, I couldn’t help but think that she reminded me of the styles of Lauren Hill from the 90s. The incorporation of a variety of musical styles to make one’s own unique style is in itself something worth pondering, but instead I want to focus on the central message of the song.
Trainor is attempting to help all people find self-esteem in their body image. Lyrics such as “If you got beauty beauty just raise ‘em up, ‘Cuz every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top” emphasizes that beauty is in every person and that your body image doesn’t determine your beauty. Behind the song we see a deeper truth: you are more than just your body and so embrace the beauty of yourself.
The song is quite critical of popular media for altering the body image of people through tools such as Photoshop. In short, popular media creates a false image of women that creates standards that are impossibly high for most women to meet. Men expect women to be models, and women feel to be less because they are not. This song says “enough is enough” with this way of doing things. It’s time for people to be real and to embrace the beauty of people as they are.
Is this not something that points to the Christian truth that there is an infinite value to each person because they are loved by God? Each person has a dignity, a beauty, and a value simply because they are loved by God. The song begins to challenge us to see value in each person beyond body image. You are beautiful, dignified, and valued not because of your weight or appearance, but simply because God loves you. True beauty is found in love. In fact, the Christian view of dignity flips the whole world on its head when it says that the most beautiful body is that of a man from Nazareth Who was scourged, humiliated, crucified, and pierced. That body on the Cross – the ugliest in the eyes of the world – is the most beautiful in the eyes of God because it is the supreme manifestation of love. True beauty is found in love and because we are loved unconditionally by God, we can embrace ourselves and our body image as a gift to manifest His love to the world.