This week, child-friendly streaming service Yoto decided to pull one of the most beloved Queen songs – “Fat Bottomed Girls” – from the Greatest Hits album when it was added to their platform. Though the band agreed, fans are outraged at the censorship.
The London-based audio platform currently offers over 1,000 music and audiobooks for children up to the age of 9, and recently partnered with Universal Music Group to make albums its library available – including Queen, one of the most widely known and beloved bands of all time. Growing up, this band defined my childhood. Everyone in my family sang it. Every woman in my family rocked to their songs. It was how drinks sloshed on the floor, couples swayed, uncles jumped on the couch to riff literal fake air guitars, and how my generation was indoctrinated into the classic 1970s and 1980s rock that had defined our parents’ generation and – for a time – the entire world. It captivated us, and Freddie Mercury – a legend that I never shared Earth-space with – was a brave soul who would inspire my own journey into self-acceptance years later.
“Fat Bottomed Girls” was – and remains – one of my favorite songs. While many news articles state that young children will not understand the lyrics, that is not entirely the point.
Did I know what a “fat bottomed girl” was at the tender age of four, or six, or eight? Yes, actually, I did. Because I came from a family of fat bottomed women. A long line of Sicilian women blessed with Very Big Bums perfect for raising the large broods of children that dot my family tree. And we were proud of them. “Fat Bottomed Girls” was more than a family rock time. It was our women’s anthem. When those lyrics belted out the stereo and crossed our lips, we shouted them as if Freddie had wrote that song just for us. “Fat Bottomed Girls” was our way of proclaiming that we loved our bodies, and that our partners worshipped the ground we walked on. For us, it was an anthem of self-love that my mother, my aunts, and my grandmother imparted upon me from as early as I can remember.
And it was the purest form of self-love they could impart. Hips swaying, lyrics belting, and tribe singing, it was an ancestral calling to never be ashamed of the hips that birthed us, the breasts that fed us, and the bodies that had given our family generations of strong, healthy children that became dentists, lawyers, fisherman, shipbuilders, hairdressers, cigar makers, farmers, you name it. We were proud of what the women in our family had done and made and become. And our bodies had borne it all.
We are Fat Bottomed Girls. And to take away that anthem is to take away the power that Freddie gave every Fat Bottomed Girl across the world: the power of self-love.