I Know What Boys Like, I Know What Guys Want

Nothing to proveI often see women justify our worth based on what men think of us.   I was thinking about this because I heard the song “All About That Bass” on the way home.  In addition to the issues with cultural appropriation and thin shaming there is the message that fat bodies are better because “I’ve got the boom boom that all the boys chase” and that her mom said not to worry about her size because “boys like a little more booty to hold at night.”

I saw a post on Facebook that said “Men like meat not bones.”  So men are dogs, women are dog food, and women should strive to be the food that the men/dogs find most delicious?  And this empowers who now? Or the idea that fat women should feel good about ourselves because we can have sex with/date traditionally attractive guys – trying to fight the system that oppresses women by buying into that system as it applies to men.

Meanwhile Subway has a commercial suggesting that women should eat their sandwiches instead of burgers so that we can stay thin enough to look sexy in our Halloween costumes.  Ignoring the issues with the idea that Subway sandwiches will keep you thinner than burgers, or that fat women can’t look sexy in costumes, the idea that women should buy things because otherwise we won’t look sexy enough is, disturbingly, a tried and true way to sell beauty and diet products

These things always seem to ignore a number of factors – that some men aren’t sexually interested in women at all, that men’s attractions vary to include women of all sizes, that some women don’t care if men are sexually attracted to them (though this doesn’t seem to matter as much since it’s about the social reward for meeting the stereotype of beauty as defined by men,) that “men” and “women” aren’t the only gender categories, that men’s preferences are developed while they are steeped in a culture that shoves a single stereotype of beauty down our throats.  Oh, and THAT WOMEN’S VALUE IS NOT BASED ON WHETHER OR NOT SOME  PLURALITY OF MEN WILL FUCK US.

The underpants rule applies here and so of course women are allowed to judge their value based on what men think of them, I’m not trying to tell anyone how to live.  I’m suggesting that if we work to dismantle a society where all women are encouraged to believe that we should base their self-worth on how attractive men find us – and where the way that we are treated depends on it in many ways – then each of us gets to choose how we determine our value. I think that the power is in creating a world where we have real options, and then making an authentic choice, not finding a way to be ok with no choice at all.

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Published in: on October 7, 2014 at 6:36 am  Comments (42)  

42 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thank you!!! I was appalled by the Subway commercial the other day, and immediately set out to inform my 10-year-old son how inappropriate I thought it was. We are not some guy’s reward, and I don’t want my son thinking that way. I really appreciate your viewpoint! 🙂

    • Thank you for pointing this out to your son! Boys’ moms can make all the difference when it comes to avoiding their boys becoming misogynists. And telling him that we are not a reward is important.

    • Thank you so much for this. I’m having a son any day now and while having a girl left me worried for her self-esteem, having a son suddenly brought up issues of: how do I keep my son from being that guy who acts as though women are trophies who need to earn his approval? I intend to start these conversations young and to continue them as he grows up, because he will almost certainly learn how to talk and think about women based on media and how his peers talk about them: like objects.

  2. This “unifying” cultural approach of worth and beauty reminds me a joke about a shaving device.

    One crazy engineer made a device for fast automatic face shaving. He came to a potential client and showed him a big box with a hole inside. The client asked how it was going to work. ‘Oh, a man puts his head into this hole, and inside are two razors moving swiftly to shave him’. ‘But every man has a different face shape, aren’t they?’ ‘Don’t worry’ – said the engineer – ‘it’s only before the first shaving’.

    Maybe minds also may be shaved this way.

  3. There is no thin shaming in “All About That Bass”, there’s shaming of fat-shaming. Go read the words and understand who the “Skinny Bitches” really are. They are the ones who fat shame. Doesn’t matter what size they are. I love that song. She states clearly that “ever inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top”.

    • I’ve read the words. I’ve read ALL the lyrics. And frankly, I find the song both thin- AND fat-shaming. The song tells women who have “a little more” booty in “all the right places” that they are okay because “boys like a little more to hold at night”. So basically, it’s a message to sizes 8-14 with hourglass shapes that their bodies are okay because boys like them.

      Here’s the lyrics without the chorus (which is just “all about that bass no treble”)

      Yeah, it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size two
      But I can shake it, shake it
      Like I’m supposed to do
      ‘Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase
      And all the right junk in all the right places

      I see the magazine workin’ that Photoshop
      We know that shit ain’t real
      C’mon now, make it stop
      If you got beauty beauty, just raise ’em up
      ‘Cause every inch of you is perfect
      From the bottom to the top

      Yeah, my mama she told me don’t worry about your size
      She says, “Boys like a little more booty to hold at night.”
      You know I won’t be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll
      So if that’s what you’re into then go ahead and move along

      I’m bringing booty back
      Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that
      No I’m just playing. I know you think you’re fat
      But I’m here to tell ya
      Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top

      Yeah my mama she told me don’t worry about your size
      She says, “Boys like a little more booty to hold at night.”
      You know I won’t be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll
      So if that’s what you’re into then go ahead and move along

      People defending the song focus on the “skinny bitches” line, as though the “I’m just playing I know you think you’re fat” line excuses it. As though we haven’t heard “it’s just a joke” used as an excuse for all kinds of hate towards basically every kind of group of people.

      Regardless, that one line is FAR from the only one that’s troubling.

      “I ain’t no size two but I can shake it like I’m supposed to do”
      “I got the boom boom that all the boys chase and all the right junk in all the right places”
      “Boys like a little more boot to hold at night”
      “I won’t be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll”

      There are about a thousand ways this song could have been written so that it celebrated bod positivity and beauty WITHOUT relying on using skinny or stick figure as insults, or without relying on the idea that it’s okay to be larger IF you’re the “right” shape and still small enough to fit into the upper end of mainstream beauty ideals.

      I’m not a “skinny silicone size two” either. I also do not have “a little more” booty. Nor are my curves “in the right places”. It certainly isn’t chased by all the boys. Even if I wanted random dudes to find me attractive (and I’ve BEEN part of the smaller-fat hourglass club so I know how much that attention can actually really suck).

      So where in this song am I supposed to find the message that every inch of ME is perfect?

      • Hell, if you want evidence that the problems with this song are fairly numerous and clear, how about the fact that even mainstream music critics with absolutely no prior understanding of fat acceptance are actually getting it:


        • Bunny, that link is awesome!

          • It just made me so happy to see someone outside of our own camp seem to actually understand and be positive about what body positivity and fat acceptance is all about, as well as WHY people in our community have issues with this song!

        • Thanks for the link, though it made me notice another very unusual good thing (probably good thing?) about the video– it’s a woman singing about being sexy while wearing clothes!

          In any case, would anyone care to recommend songs that aren’t problematic about the pleasures (or pleasures and pains) of living in a body?

        • I just clicked on that link and there was some awful picture of a hunter with a dead bear from some company called Cabelas. I wish I could have watched.

          • Oh god I’m so sorry! Those weren’t there at ALL when I was on the site. Was it an ad? I have adblocker.

            • I know it wasn’t your fault, yes it was a rather disgusting ad. I really need an addblocker if there’s away to avoid shocking and terrifying images like that.

      • Thanks for posting the lyrics, Bunny. I hadn’t heard the song… and now I don’t want to. Your analysis is exactly what I was getting from the words.

        And you know what? That’s a message I don’t want to listen to.

      • Great analysis, Bunny. I’ve been in the small-fat-hourglass camp too, and the attention does suck. And that’s totally the demographic this singer is targeting. It’s not not thin- or fat-positive. It’s medium-positive only, at at the expense of fat and thin women.

      • I don’t know how anyone could read those lyrics and not think they’re problematic. It’s a shame, because I actually like the tune and the retro vibe. I guess I’ll just have to do the same thing I did with “Blurred Lines” – wait for Weird Al to do a parody I can enjoy on all levels.

        • I would love to see Weird Al do something with this song. I loved his parody of “Blurred Lines.”

      • Yeah, the one line in the song about every inch being perfect is a great sentiment out of context. In context…yikes.

    • If you like the song and it makes you feel good, great–enjoy. But your enjoyment doesn’t mean that the problems other people see with the song aren’t there. I think the song is hella catchy, and I like the retro sound–even though about half of the lyrics bug me. People pointing out the problems aren’t saying you are wrong to like the song. They are saying, “I see these problems and these ways in which this could have been done differently.”

    • Really? I mean, it’s a fun song to bounce your head along to, I’ll give you that, but as soon as she whipped out that “it’s OK to be fat (you know, “in the right places”) because boys like [it]” line, the song was forever destroyed for me. Sorry, I just can’t jam to a song about how my worth only counts as far as men find me sexy.

      • Exactly! When I first heard it, I really liked it. It is so catchy. But then I paid attention to the lyrics and the song was forever ruined for me. I’m so tired of being told my worth only goes as far as men think it does. F that.

  4. I’ve neither heard the song nor seen the commercial, and it doesn’t really matter. A person’s value shouldn’t be measured by how much someone wants to jump their bones.

    As a general rule, people like to feel attractive. We like knowing that someone wants us. However, that should not be the sole criteria by which we establish our self-esteem. There are far more reasons why a woman should be happy with her body than just that some men like how much booty she has.

    I find my wife’s body sexy and exciting, and I mention that to her frequently. I also mention to her frequently that I love the other aspects of who she is. Even then, her self-esteem should not be dependent on my appreciation. She has value totally apart from my approval, or anyone else’s approval, for that matter, including the popular media.

    • “We like knowing that someone wants us. However, that should not be the SOLE CRITERIA by which we establish our self-esteem.”

      “There are far MORE reasons why a woman should be happy with her body than JUST that some men like how much booty she has.”

      [caps emphasis mine]

      I think maybe you missed part of the point. Whether or not someone else “wants us” does not have to be a factor AT ALL in our self-esteem.

      • No argument whatsoever on that someone can choose to make that absolutely no factor at all in their self-esteem. It was not my intention to imply that desirability was an essential component in our self-images.

        By stating it as a general rule, there is the implication of the exceptions. It’s not an absolute rule that people like to feel attractive to someone else, but for the most part, we do. For those of us that do, it still should not be even the primary factor in our self-esteem.

  5. I revel in the love of a good man. Note that’s ‘a’ – as in singular.

    Mr. Twistie makes me terribly happy. He appreciates everything about me, inside and out.

    If any other man or woman on the entire planet finds me fuckable, that’s all well and good, but it doesn’t really matter to me because I found the other half of my soul long ago.

    Even when I was searching, it wasn’t about quantity, it was about finding the right person. It was about finding someone who would love the essentials of me enough to deal with the things that would be in flux my entire life.

    As it happens, my vision of this person did include an opposite set of genitals from mine, and reality synched up with my imaginings.

    Physical attraction is great. I’m all for physical attraction. But I never wanted scads of guys tripping over their tongues to get at my body. I always wanted one man who would appreciate my mind, get my sense of humor, and be able to cope with my many foibles.

    My value to the world is not measured in the number of men who want to have sex with me.

    I rather imagine that goes double for women who aren’t attracted to men.

    • So glad you found your matching puzzle piece!

  6. Could not agree more – even things that are written or content created MEANT to be empowering are underlined with basic lines of: be skinny, be fat, be curvy, be that – just as long as there’s a market for it – at least one man who’ll buy you.

  7. I was hoping you would write about “All About That Bass.” I find it not only thin shaming but also fat shaming: “I know you think you’re fat, but I’m here to tell you every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top.” The implication is that if you ARE fat, you’re *not* perfect.

  8. I see the problems with “All About That Bass”, but I still feel that a woman saying in public that she’s completely pleased with how she looks is revolutionary in a good way.

    I hope for better songs.

    Possibly amusing– a friend who’d only heard the song without seeing the video assumed the singer was black and bass was short for black ass.

  9. This song has bugged me since I first heard all the words. My attempt at a fix:

    Yeah, it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size two
    But I can shake it, shake it
    Whenever I want to
    And I got that boom boom, you wanna play chase?
    And let’s go fat it up in all the haters’ faces

    I see the magazine workin’ that Photoshop
    We know that shit ain’t real
    C’mon now, make it stop
    If you got beauty beauty, just raise ‘em up
    ‘Cause every inch of you is perfect
    From the bottom to the top

    Imagine this verse in the video done to a visual
    of the singer/an actress “resting” on a beach lounger, “drinking”
    something froofy, and just when the phrase about exercise goes by
    some gorgeous man who has come up out of the pool all sexy-like strolls past her trailing a towel over her arm while the camera focuses
    on his flexing glutes. Second video, make that a gorgeous woman.

    Yeah, my mama she told me, “Don’t worry about your size;
    Get some rest, get a drink, get your favorite exercise.”
    You know I won’t kill myself just to look like a Barbie doll
    So if that’s what you’re into then go ahead and move along

    I’m bringing booty back
    Go ahead and tell them diet-pushers that
    They oughta shut up. They keep on hatin’ on your fat
    But I’m here to tell ya
    Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top

    In the video, this one would be about dancing in a roomful of people of all sizes dancing and having fun.

    Yeah, my mama she told me, “Don’t worry about your size;
    Get some rest, get a drink, get your favorite exercise.”
    You know I won’t kill myself just to look like a Barbie doll
    So if that’s what you’re into then go ahead and move along

    • This is a FLAWLESS fix. Seriously, all the problems gone, and a message that tells everyone they’re fine as they are.

      And the video can have more wonderful people like the one dancing guy in Meghan Trainor’s one… all shapes and sizes, people using mobility aids and transpeople and just a huge variety of happy dancing people.

      Someone make this. Someone who can sing… do a cover? Please?

      • Yes, please!

    • Love this! I made an incredibly nerdy parody of this song a few weeks ago, as a joke for my classmates, about acid-base disorders (we’re med students) but this is way better! 🙂

  10. I am absolutely asexual. Probably by choice (or as a reaction to my environment growing up) but I was probably born gay as I was attracted to men when I was seeking affection. I despise the fact that because my friends and family know me as a budding Body Positivity blogger, I have been sent links to the AWFUL Megan Trainor song all summer. Sure that song promotes a sort of positivity, it does so at the expense of asexual men like me, gay men, thin women, women who have had cosmetic surgery, etc…

    Here is my response to various lines in the song:

    “I can shake it, shake it, like I’m supposed to do”
    –Excuse me? Supposed to do? Megan, I am largely confined to a mobility device because of massive knee injuries. I will ask you to keep your albeist sense of “supposed to do” to yourself. I am not supposed to move for you or anyone else.

    “cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase
    And all the right junk in all the right places”
    –I do not care to be chased by boys and my weight (its not “junk,” its my BODY). I find it sad that not three stanzas in your existence is defined by men. And in the video, a very skinny, almost sickly looking man at that, despite being classically beautiful.

    “‘Cause every inch of you is perfect
    From the bottom to the top”
    –Oh thanks for the backwards compliment honey, but no, every inch is not perfect. And no amount of silly bubble gum lyrics is going to make me perfect. My psyche is far from perfect either. But hey, thanks for insulting me for not being perfect!

    “Boys like a little more booty to hold at night.”
    –Boys like this? All boys? Why thanks Megan for leaving out the roughly 10% of the gay population and completely ignoring the asexual population. No, I chose not to hold on to any booty and that is just as valid as YOUR choices.

    “You know I won’t be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll”
    –It was really nice of you to insult the poor people suffering from anorexia and body dismorphia in your pop song too. Hey!! Togetherness…right Meg? I suppose you’ll be writing a song for my niece who has weighed 115 her entire life despite eating everything in sight. Yeah, she cries herself to sleep at night because she feels too skinny…is her song coming next summer?

    “Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that
    No I’m just playing. I know you think you’re fat”
    — So the “skinny bitch” thinking he/she is “fat” is wrong? ooooooohhhhhhh booooooooooyyyyyyyy.

    Thanks for trying Megan…I think you can leave your “positivity in the box next time.”

    • That was a very lovely critique, Simon. Thank you for sharing it with us!

    • Simon, thank you for this critique. For pointing out many things that are wrong with the lyrics of this song. Catchy beat aside, I can’t get past the lyrics.

  11. I watched the music video because I remember seeing something that caught my eye. Found it, paused it, print screen.

    This freeze-frame from the music video I think… captures every single problem I have with the song at once.


  12. A woman on a page I’m on over at FB posted that she was whistled and catcalled by some construction workers. She was posting about this to brag and to say how good it felt. She actually said, “I wonder why that feels so good.” Another woman posted that she was honked at by a truck driver and she agreed she liked it. I wanted soooo badly to respond with something like, “It felt good because you are insecure and need strange men to validate you so you have a sense of self worth.Not really healthy.” But, of course, I said nothing.

    But it just shows how prevalent this idea is of women needing to be attractive and fuckable in order to feel good about themselves. We, as women, largely buy into the idea.

    • We buy into it, wear it like a badge of pride when it happens, then feel horrible when it doesn’t happen – just like we’ve been taught for so many generations. It’s sad, and there are times when I fall into the trap myself. I want to kick myself, but have to remember to be gentle and not do more harm.

    • I believe this ties into hiring/trips to the doctor’s/etc. The fuckability factor: if yours is high, you are more likely to be hired/treated well. If it’s low, tough shit.

  13. The body acceptance movement just doesn’t get it, much like the health industry. We’re suppose to do away with the ideal of “attractiveness” as a measuring stick of someone’s value, health and character. People still don’t get it. Every time there’s a debate about a woman’s body I always see the popular phrase “In the end men don’t care” like WHO CARES IF THEY CARE! It’s not about that, it’s about embracing and showing all different body types and sizes in a positive light so that people can love themselves and exist in them without stigma and discrimination.

    Also despite songs like Anaconda by Nicki Minaj, All About the Bass by Megan Trainor and Booty by Jennifer Lopez thin beauty is still idealized, even towards thin women. I wish women would help each other out, and the first step is to stop body shaming one another for the acceptance of men. Nobody wins in the end.

  14. And another thing:

    The video is, to be frank, B-grade. I mean, listen to that beat! Where’s the bellydancer? Couldn’t somebody be doing a little slow samba? What’s with the candy-colored outfits and background and the dull editing? You give me a song about fat people enjoying life, show me fat people enjoying life, not just a bunch of performers tracking the camera. And you give me a beat like that, best you show somebody grooving to it. One guy ain’t gonna do it. Everybody dance!!!

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