Proud2Bme | "Not About Your Waist": An Interview with Natty Valencia

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"Not About Your Waist": An Interview with Natty Valencia

By Chelsea Kronengold-- When I first heard Meghan Trainor’s hit song, “All About That Bass,” I was instantly hooked. Not only did it have a catchy beat, but it was one of the few billboard charts to celebrate body diversity. However, as time went on, people, myself included, took a deeper look at Trainor’s song and realized it was less body-positive than meets the eye.

One of the people who also came to this realization was Canadian singer/songwriter, Natty Valencia. Natty wrote a body-positive parody of “All About That Bass,” titled “Not About Your Waist,” that sends a heartening message to women of all shapes and sizes. It is no surprise that Natty’s video has gone viral, generating over 300,000 views in 2 weeks. Natty has also received coverage from Buzzfeed, Seventeen Magazine, and popular Canadian outlets such as Etalk and CTV News Toronto.

 

I talked to Natty about “Not About Your Waist,” as well as her opinion on the media’s influence on body-shaming and her advice for achieving self-acceptance.

Chelsea: Congratulations on the success of your body-positive cover of Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass.” I am not only a fan of your beautiful voice, but I love the encouraging message you are sending to girls of all sizes. What motivated you to create this parody version, “Not About Your Waist?”

Natty: Well, as a songwriter, I'm constantly looking at hit songs and dissecting them trying to understand what makes them great and how can I apply that to my own songs. So I took the same approach with "All About That Bass" and found although there are inspiring messages in the lyrics, the negative counter-part messages overshadow the positive ones. So with that in mind, and knowing how many young girls struggle with feelings of never being enough, I wanted to spin the message to focus on body positivity and self-love.

Chelsea: In the first minute and half of your video, before you even sing your cover, you discuss body shaming. What does body shaming mean to you? Why is it an important issue to address?

Natty: To me, body shaming comes out in a few ways: How we speak to others about their body to their face or like behind their back, but also how we speak to ourselves about our own body in our inner voice. It starts with comparing yourself to someone else you've deemed as "better" than you or you conjure up like a made-up fantasy version of yourself that you desperately wish you could be and you become obsessed with that kind of pressure. It all usually ends the same way, in jealousy and hurt and disappointment. This is why I think body shaming is important to bring up because sometimes these intense feelings and thoughts we torture ourselves with lead to bigger problems like life-long insecurity or developing eating disorders.  

Chelsea: You have a lot of really powerful lyrics in “Not About Your Waist.” What is your favorite lyric?

Natty: Thank you! I think my favorite line in the parody is "she said, 'love the skin that you're in, girl you can shine so bright'". I like it because too often we seek approval from others and hope that they'll like us. Really all that matters at the end of the day is how much you like yourself and how comfortable you are being in your own skin your own body. You only get one body, and it does SO much for you, you gotta love it whole-heartedly for everything it is you know? 

Chelsea: I also love the lyric, “You know I won't be no fake plastic fantasy on TV.” What does this mean to you? In your opinion, how does the media contribute to female body dissatisfaction?

Natty: That lyric to me means, very simply I'm not going to be anything other than myself, nor should I be expected to be, so take it or leave it. The media, overall in my opinion, is the most powerful instigator for making girls feel unwanted and insecure. I see improvement though. I remember being like 11 or 12 and looking at the faces the media chose to highlight that were heavily modified both physically, not for health reasons, and also in their character. They were like puppets. At least now with such great musical role models like Demi Lovato or Beyonce, who are all about empowerment, there is a shift in the spotlight towards women with strong messages. ☺

Chelsea: As you mentioned in your video, Trainor gives a backhanded compliment of “tell them skinny bitches that…” in her efforts to promote her own self-acceptance. How do you suggest that our culture stops shaming people regardless of their size?  

Natty: I think we would see an immediate shift in our culture if people acted less passive-aggressive towards people they envy. Paying someone a compliment but only grudgingly is a challenging way to live; if you aren't genuine in your message, then don't say it. Actually, one of the best quotes I ever heard is "Say what you mean, and mean what you say but don't say it in a mean way." That idea is what sparked that lyric because, although Trainor follows up that backhanded compliment with a "nah, I'm just playing" it's kinda like saying to someone "Hey, I think you're a great person and you're trying really hard but, no offense but, you really suck at this".  Regardless of the first nice comment in the beginning, your mind immediately focuses on the blow that's about to come because they said "no offence." This is a really long-winded answer but it comes down to this: our culture can stop shaming people if we just try and remember more often when we speak to people that everyone is dealing with something. Big or small, everyone is insecure about something, or worried about something or someone or dealing with a problem they don't know how to fix or struggling with an inner battle. If we open ourselves up to empathy and understanding around others, I think we would see gradual progress in the right direction.

Chelsea: What is the most awesome/inspiring feedback you have received about your cover song?

Natty: Definitely the messages I receive from younger girls who are like "I'm 13 and I weigh this much and your version of this song helped me so much and inspired me to do this or try that or talk to my best friend about a, b and c." As an artist, that's just aces for me. It's every songwriter's dream to make someone feel so strongly about something they wrote, and although this parody is not my own song, it gives me hope that I can one day inspire someone in the same way. 

Chelsea: What makes you proud2bYOU?

Natty: Hmm… This is a super tough question for me to answer… I think maybe I'm most proud of how persistent I am. I really value integrity. I take pride in how hard I work to pursue my dreams and crush my goals and I don't plan on stopping now.

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