Recently, it seems that there has been a renewed appreciation for curvier body types in popular culture. Between Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass” and Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda”, it’s evident that there is a statement is being made about what it means to be beautiful.
As a woman who is not stick thin, of course it makes me happy to see body types similar to my own getting more representation in the media. However, I worry that the celebration of a curvy figure is quickly turning into yet another limitation on society’s definition of beauty…just in the opposite direction.
I’m not saying that female performers shouldn’t sing about loving their bodies or give performances reflecting this confidence (however risque some may view them). On the contrary; I think that these icons showing the world how comfortable they are with themselves is such an important thing. We shouldn’t fear sexuality, and we certainly shouldn’t fear or look down on women who are brave enough to express theirs.
But there is a crucial difference between a woman celebrating the body she has, and a woman stating “this is what beauty is.” Or even worse, “this is what men want.” And songs like “Anaconda” and “All About That Bass”, while catchy as all hell, are problematic because they make these kinds of statements. I mean, Nicki just blatantly comes out and says, “Fuck the skinny bitches.” And while her intentions might have been playful and humorous, these types of statements are so dangerous because they are alienating. They create a boundary around a certain definition of beauty, and if a person should exist outside of that boundary, they are made to feel less than. It makes them feel unworthy of confidence or self-love.
Putting ANY kind of boundaries on beauty is wrong. It’s the reason why eating disorders exist. It’s not exclusively about being thin; it’s about the pressure to conform to a predetermined societal definition of what is acceptable. If we take thinness out of the equation and merely replace it with curviness, we are not going to change anything. The “I’m not good enough” mentality will still very much exist. Women will still have something to constantly compare themselves to.
We need to stop giving women something to compare themselves to. Nobody should worry about conforming to a certain standard of beauty, regardless of what that standard may be. It just shouldn’t be a thing. Women (and men) should be able to feel good about themselves in any body they may have, at any stage of life. But movements like the one I currently see happening don’t allow for this kind of freedom.
I want women to celebrate their bodies. I want them to sing about how proud they are of them and how good they feel in their skin. But I’m not okay with anyone putting limitations on these feelings. Because they are something that every single human deserves to experience, regardless of what they may look like.
In Beyonce’s song “***Flawless”, she notes all of the things that make her feel confident and empowered- and they don’t have to do with physical appearance. Instead, she notes various people in her life and how they have allowed her to feel capable and strong. I personally feel that through this song, Beyonce is helping to shatter our previous definitions of beauty. She’s not defining “flawless” as “free of flaws”, but rather as the ability to look beneath the surface in order to discover confidence. And it is my hope that someday soon, this will be the only definition of beauty we look to.