We’ve all heard that Beyonce’s song “Pretty Hurts” was powerful. But Queen B is a queen, after all. She’s probably the most beloved, revered, and idolized female singer in Hollywood. Colbie Caillat? She’s different. She seems to understand where we’re at. As a girl from Malibu, she’s a girl after my own heart. She’s seen, like I have, the skinny girls we oogle at the beach, one part awe of how perfect they look, one part jealous because you don’t look like that. She’s witnessed, like we all have, the double standards society places on body image. She knows. And her new song, “Try,” let’s us know that it’s ok. “You don’t have to try so hard,” she says. “You don’t have to change a single thing.”
But first, she opens with a scene we’re all too familiar with:
“Put your makeup on
Get your nails done
Curl your hair
Run the extra mile
Keep it slim so they like you, do they like you?”
And that in itself speaks volumes. How many times have I put a face on to be socially presentable? How many times have I done my nails so that other girls would compliment them, curled my hair so that I would look extra good, pushed myself to run just one more mile because the past four miles I had run weren’t enough to burn all the calories I wanted to? Just one more, because if I didn’t look good, what was the point?
What was the point? Did I just want to feel healthy? Did I just want to feel good about myself? Had I ever actually felt good about myself? The answer: no, no, and absolutely no. Society is always pushing and pulling us in one way or another with its unrealistic expectations. Eat more, they’ll tell you, because you need to be healthy. But don’t get fat, they’ll warn you, because being fat is unacceptable. Plus size is beautiful, they claim. But those so-called plus sized models? They look like normal girls. So if they’re considered plus sized, what are you considered? Morbidly obese? And when society raves about curves, what about the girls who are naturally skinny? They shouldn’t be stepped on because they were born slim.
Colbie continues, extending into not just physical appearances, but how we act:
“Get your sexy on
Don’t be shy, girl
Take it off
This is what you want, to belong, so they like you
Do you like you?”
Women are encouraged to be independent, to take control of their own sexuality, but are constantly being objectified by men. Be sexy, they’ll say. If you’ve got it, flaunt it. But be careful! That girl looks hot, they’ll say. But that girl looks like a whore. It seems like whenever a girl wants to get a guy’s attention, she’d better start by taking off her clothes. Whether that’s power to her or to the men, who knows? The most important line, though, is the last one: “do you like you?”
Do you like you?
It’s a question that you’ve probably asked yourself over and over again. If you can answer it with a yes, congratulations. You’ve achieved total peace and self-acceptance. Not just body peace, but mental peace as well.
For most of us, however, it doesn’t come as easily. We wish we had that all-elusive thigh gap, or that our boobs were bigger, or that our butt were rounder, our stomach flatter, our legs longer, our skin clearer… the list goes on and on. It’s so easy to nitpick all things we lack instead of focusing on what we have. And that’s only the physical aspects. We may also wish we danced better, were smarter, had more talents, had more likable qualities…
But ultimately, we’re not perfect. No one is, not the girl who seems to have her life together, down from her perfect hair to her perfect GPA.
Colbie goes on to repeat the question, framing it in an all-important manner:
“Why should you care what they think of you
When you’re all alone, by yourself, do you like you?”
It doesn’t matter what society tells us we should be. Forget the labels, forget the thinspo, fitspo, or whatever the hell other fad is going on right now. We can never live up to society’s standards, because they were built to be impossible. They’re a series of oxymorons that no one can ever live up to. The important thing is to love yourself. You’re not as active as you once were, and you know that losing a couple of pounds would help your health? Go for it! Exercise because it makes you healthy and happy, not so you can chase down society’s dream of a six pack. Put on makeup because you like trying new things, not because people tell you that you look sick when you skip a day of foundation. Do your nails to pamper yourself, not because you seek others’ approval. When you do things to make you happy, you’ll be happy. And you’ll find that yes, you like you. And that’s all that matters.