The popular song, "All About That Bass" by Meghan Trainor, has over 350 million views on YouTube alone. It has mostly been received as sending a positive message about body acceptance and being comfortable with the body you have with lines like, "It's pretty clear I ain't no size 2, but I can shake it, shake it like I'm supposed to do," but has also received some backlash as a form of skinny-shaming due to a line that include the words "skinny bitches".
So which is it?
I'll admit, I'd never even heard this term until I started looking up the song after hearing it recently. It is immediately apparent what the term means though and I think that Trainor has a solid footing to deny this accusation. When listening to the song as a whole, it doesn't seem that likely that this was her goal.
If it was her intended goal, then the behavior is obviously reprehensible. Especially if we start looking at actual disorders like bulimia or anorexia. I had a very close friend in high school suffer from bulimia and it was terrible to watch her deal with it. Shaming someone over a psychological disorder which is beyond their control is asinine and is not too distant from the thoughts I shared in my most recent article on attempting to shame war criminals as a form of punishment.
This is the ideal and hopefully what the song was after. Western society, particularly the United States, has really gone too far with beauty ideals and what a perfect woman should look like. Having some fat is natural for most people and can be a healthy state.
Health is what ought to be focused on. New fitness trends, CrossFit in particular, have pushed many women to workout with intensity and focus their attention on becoming strong, fit, and confident. These women look amazing and it is mostly a result of the confidence they carry with them knowing that they can run a mile with speed, lift a few hundred pounds with ease, and do a couple dozen pull ups when necessary.
Trainor most likely had none of these specifics in mind when she made the song. However, the idea of body acceptance, especially acceptance of one that is fit and capable, regardless of some extra fat here and there should be the focus of more media attention.
This third category is what hasn't really received any attention. There seems to be a fine line between accepting a body that isn't waif-like and accepting obesity. Obesity is now classified as a disease by the American Medical Association and should not be accepted anymore so than the eating disorders mentioned above.
Not only is it now a medical disorder, but obesity is also a negative externality. This means society as a whole pays a higher cost than the individuals who suffer from obesity. This higher cost comes in the form of billions of dollars each year. According to Harvard's School of Public Health Obesity Prevention Source, "health care costs of obesity in the U.S. were estimated to be as high as $190 billion in 2005, a number that is double earlier estimates, and that is expected to rise, along with obesity rates, over the coming decades".
So here we have a phenomena that is both classified as a disease and which researchers "estimate accounts for 21 percent of medical spending". Accepting it is both unethical in terms of patient care from a medical standpoint and a moral hazard for those more interested in the economic burden of others who carry the extra costs.
The song referenced at the beginning of this article is catchy and upbeat. The singer was almost certainly just having fun. I've simply used it as a platform to talk about the issues in this post and in that sense have completely hijacked it. So to wrap it up:
Fat-tax: An Economic Analysis