Written by: Linsey Stonchus
I cannot stand Caitlyn Jenner and Meghan Trainor. Why? Because they are harming the causes that many believe them to be championing. The two have both been labelled pro-women at points. Other labels used between the two have been pro-trans, pro-LGBT, and body positive. These women are not advocates of these issues, and are only creating misconceptions of the communities they represent.
NO to Meghan Trainor – Body Positivity, Feminism
I have had an issue with Trainor from day-one. Her breakout single All About That Bass always seemed problematic to me. The lyrics seemed almost outdated, similar to 2000s brand body-positivity songs and quotes. At the time, unrealistic beauty standards and pressure to be thin were very real (and they still are). Some moved to stand up for those that didn’t meet the beauty norms or body ideals, but body positivity wasn’t well-evolved yet. Jokes were often made at the expense of one side or the other. Although the efforts were to make the criticized side feel accepted, it wasn’t tolerant of those who wore a smaller pant size.
Think of Pink’s Stupid Girls. The song and video had its high-notes, demanding that girls focus on their dreams, rather than fitting societal norms. But it had low-points as well. One scene featured a pair of girls suffering from bulimia, a very real and deadly mental disorder.
Bass brought about similar feelings. Sure, she was trying to build curvier girls up, but she was tearing down “skinny bitches,” as Trainor puts it, at the same time. The video even mocks a skinnier girl throughout the song. She also focuses on having a “booty” and “all the right junk in all the right places.” This implies that she’s well-proportioned and her fat is located in ideal areas of her body. These statements actually exclude some of her plus-size fans, because bodies don’t always gain weight in a proportional manner.
And don’t forget her comments on not being “strong” enough to be anorexic. She claims that she tried and quit after 3 hours. Acknowledging that eating disorder survivors are strong is fantastic, but that’s not what Trainor is saying. Disorder sufferers are not making a choice not to eat; they’ve lost control of their eating behavior. Her comments create confusion about the experience of an eating disorder, and any mental disorder, really.
Going back to All About That Bass, this attempt at a feel-good anthem not only misses the mark when it comes to positivity, but with feminism as well. Trainor sings “don’t worry about your size; boys love a little more booty to hold at night.” The tabloids tell you that fat is wrong, but guys like it, so now it’s okay. Instead of empowering women with self-love, she focuses instead on how men feel about a woman’s physical appearance.
Bass only foreshadowed the theme of sexism in Trainor’s songs. Trainor then released Dear Future Husband. Although Trainor goes back and forth in this song, singing about having a “9 to 5, and to not expect her to bake a pie, she also sings about being a perfect wife in a 1950s themed video. She goes on to singing about being treated like a “lady” even when she’s acting “crazy,” implying the irrationality of a woman’s temper.
Recently Trainor release NO, a song that should empower women, but it’s too contradictory of how Trainor has acted otherwise.
Caitlyn Jenner – LGBT, Pro-Trans, Feminism
As a whole, Caitlyn Jenner is not an advocate for the LGBT community. In the last year, she discussed the evolution of her views on gay marriage in an interview with Ellen DeGeneres. She acknowledges that at one time she did not agree with it or understand it. She states that she’s “on-board” today and that she wouldn’t want to stand in the way of someone else’s happiness. She goes on to say if the word “marriage” is so important to the gay/lesbian community, she said it was not her place to stop it.
In a way, she is supporting equality. She recognizes that everyone deserves equal rights, regardless of whether she agrees with it. What’s problematic is that it’s clear that she still disagrees with homosexuality. Speaking for myself (I am openly gay), I don’t mind this view so much from a religious conservative, but it’s weird to hear from a prominent LGBT figure. Jenner has always been pretty open about holding conservative views, but it’s a little surprising to hear how little her views on marriage have evolved. This is especially the case when sexuality remains an important and complex issue within the trans-community.
Whatever I or other LGBT members feel about Jenner, she will forever be an icon within the community. Although she was not the first openly trans public figure, no previous trans-person gained the same media attention or acceptance. It was an important milestone within the community. This makes it really unfortunate that such an iconic member does not understand or champion many of the LGBT community’s core issues.
I can’t put too much blame on Jenner for this segment, but we need to acknowledge that not all transitions are as seamless as Jenner’s. Realistically, no one’s is, excluding the wealthy and famous.
First off, transitioning is expensive, and not everyone can afford it, especially to the extent that Jenner was able to accomplish hers. Even her face was altered to appear more feminine. Beyond the surgical transformation, Jenner had a team of hair, make-up and clothing stylists to polish her look. Many trans-women could never afford such an extensive transition.
She was also able to withdraw from the public during the process. Another luxury many cannot afford. Many would need to return to work, and their transition process would be far slower and more visible.
I can’t blame Jenner for choosing to spend her money on her transition and for staying out of the public eye as it happened. She had the financial means and didn’t want to be scrutinized by the media. It’s definitely understandable, but it’s still not representative of the general trans population.
Further, she appears as a fully cisgender woman, while the same can’t be said about other transgender persons. This isn’t always because of affordability, but can sometimes be a matter of choice. Some do not adhere to feminine or masculine gender norms. It’s completely acceptable that Jenner chooses to meet feminine norms, but it’s not representative of the entire trans population.
A final controversy of Caitlyn Jenner relates to feminism. Although Caitlyn Jenner never claimed herself to be a feminist, she did win a Woman of the Year award from Glamour Magazine in 2015. During her acceptance speech, as a representative of women everywhere, she stated that the “hardest part of being a woman is figuring out what to wear.”
I will go back to acknowledge that Jenner is not a normal woman or trans-person, and at no fault of her own. She is in the public eye and a member of the Kardashian clan. It does make sense that she is concerned with her physical appearance, simply for the fact that she is under a lot of pressure to look good. However, she was accepting an award that celebrates the diversity and strength of the female community. Previous winners have had long lists of accomplishments and contributed to women’s rights. As a recipient of such an important women’s award, Jenner should be working to break stereotypes, not to fit them.
I may have started this article stating that I hate Caitlyn Jenner and Meghan Trainor. I don’t hate them. Personal taste-wise, I’m not very interested in either. But really, my main issue with them is the confusion they cause by being incorrectly labelled as advocates. They do nothing for their causes, and have only worsened previous stereotypes. I will acknowledge that both women have tried to promote the right causes, but in many cases, simply do not understand the issues they are trying to improve. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Not implying that either woman is going to hell, but, you see my point.