Songs I Listen to While Running #1: ‘Baby Got Back’, Sir Mix-A-Lot, is available here.
The date of my first ever “fun run” is fast approaching. Less than three weeks to go now. I have to admit, I’m beginning to freak out a little, but I can almost run as far as I need to. I’m sure I’ll get that last kilometre in the next 20 days. Right?
As well as improving my actual jogging skills and ability, over the last few weeks I have also played around with my running soundtrack – discovering some new tunes, culling ones that are better suited to an episode of Love Song Dedications, or bumping some up to a more frequent rotation.
LMFAO’s ‘Sexy and I Know It’ is one of the latter. Its fast beat puts a spring in my step and the cheeky lyrics put a – dare I say it – wiggle in my hips. It’s genuinely one of my favourite songs to run to. But is it feminist?
Again – and I’m already sensing a theme with my best running tracks – the song is an ode to body love. While this time the subject is male body image in particular, I think the message that your body – however it looks – can be sexy, as long as you believe it, is a good one that transcends gender.
LMFAO go out of their way to posit that every body can be “sexy”, even those that do not meet society’s expectations. We know this from the fourth line, “This is how I roll, animal print pants, out of control”, where Redfoo seems to feel the need to address his unconventional appearance. This is reiterated with his “big afro”, and wearing a Speedo at the beach. Although he clearly attracts attention (“Everybody stops and they staring at me”), he does not apologise for standing out or taking up space. In fact, he relishes it, and asks for more (“Girl, look at that body”).
Neither are LMFAO afraid of the sexual side of being sexy. Particularly for women, being “sexy” is far removed from the bodily responses that indicate actual desire, yet the band happily puts these responses up front in the chorus: I’ve got passion in my pants and I ain’t afraid to show it. While LMFAO implicitly acknowledge society’s disapproval of their raw sexuality, it is worth noting that the lyric threads seamlessly into the rhyming “I’m sexy and I know it”. Consequently, it becomes obvious to the listener that actual expressions of sexuality cannot be separated from being “sexy”, and that one’s personal sexual desire is worth celebrating – rather than trying to pander to a certain audience. Through this, LMFAO emphasise that all bodies, even with (or because of) their “embarrassing” sexual reflexes, are sexy as long as their owner has confidence in them.
Finally, we have “the wiggle”. If you watch the video clip, you will know that this dance, which takes up the whole last verse, is basically the LMFAO guys shaking their flaccid junk around gratuitously while wearing animal print Speedos. While the wiggle is meant to be funny, it is not supposed to be demeaning, which we can tell from Redfoo’s enthusiastic encouragement and participation. In fact, it seems to set out to normalise the appearance of male genitalia in popular culture, and re-frames the penis as an object that inspires arousal, rather than simply being a passive indicator of arousal. The wiggle, then, further encourages people to reframe their relationship with their body in a more positive way – either by simply shaking it, and enjoying putting it out in public, or by reconsidering parts of themselves they may not have considered sexy.
“Sexy and I Know It” is a fun song to work out to, but it’s also a celebration of body confidence. While the song largely concentrates on a male body that doesn’t meet society’s expectations, LMFAO’s message is readily applicable across the sexes and is a worthy inclusion on your running playlist. Go on… do the wiggle.
RESULT: Positive body image is good for everyone!
Up next: Weddings in pop culture: Leslie and Ben, ‘Parks and Recreation’
P.S. For a discussion of the feminism of the video, please check out this great post over at Balancing Jane.