Image Isn’t Everything, But It Counts

So, I’ve been seeing a lot of stuff recently about Colbie Caillat’s music video for her new song “Try”. There is so much heated debate in the comments that it’s not even funny, but most of the arguments I see on different websites generally have the same premise. On one side, the song is being praised by those supporting the message they interpret as “accept yourself for who you are” and “don’t feel the need to conform to society’s standards”. On the other hand, it’s being argued that it’s promoting the idea that you can neglect your appearance and expect to be treated like a hero, while gaining the right to bash others who do work at and take pride in how they look.

I’m not really certain where I stand in this argument, but I would probably say somewhere in the middle. I can see the points from both sides. It does seem to me that the message deals with accepting yourself and taking pride in who you are regardless of what other people say, but the way the song conveys it is a little confusing.

In the beginning of the video, all the women are wearing makeup, but they gradually start taking it off and everyone seems to feel a lot better afterwards. Everyone is happier without their makeup, but Caillat’s still wearing lipgloss at the end. I could see how maybe that could be interpreted as “feel free to make yourself feel beautiful, just don’t feel like you have to put in ungodly amounts of effort to conform to beauty standards”, but no one else is wearing makeup except Caillat. That’s a little confusing for me. The lyrics add onto that a bit, too. Some of them are “Why should you care what they think of you?” and “Do you like you?”, which totally fit the positive message argument, but the fact that “You don’t have to try” is the thing repeated the most throughout the song does add fuel to the other side.

Now like I said before, I’m not really taking one of the two sides because I can understand both arguments and agree with points from both sides. I’m going to stand in the middle, which is more or less where my opinion is anyway. I’m all for accepting yourself and being proud of who you are. I’m all for not giving in to society’s outrageous beauty standards just because you feel you need to in order to fit in. However, I am not in any way for putting someone else’s idea of what’s beautiful down just because they don’t agree with yours.

If you don’t need to wear eye shadow or lipstick in order to feel pretty, by all means don’t. If you don’t want to fry your hair with curling irons or straighteners and douse it in layers of hairspray, that’s fine, too. If you are comfortable with your body, whether it be heavier or lighter than someone else’s, that’s great. Just don’t look at the Body Image Movement as an excuse to forego effort and get treated like a hero. Don’t use it as an excuse to let yourself go. Don’t just expect that you can hit the far side of the spectrum and be able to have a comfortable life, because like it or not the world doesn’t work that way. You can’t just walk into a job interview in sweats and get mad when you don’t get the job. Regardless of how happy you are with yours, image does count in the world and there’s a sense of decorum that everyone has to honor.

On the other hand, don’t feel like you have to try abnormally hard and then beat yourself up because you don’t look like a model. Heck, with all the photoshopping and airbrushing they go through before they hit the front page, models don’t even look like models. Coating your face in layers of makeup and starving yourself is just going to make you miserable. After you realize you’re not going to be able to look like that girl in the magazine, you’ll just regret going to those extreme measures even more.

There’s a happy medium here. If you don’t like wearing makeup, don’t wear makeup, but if wearing some makes you feel better and more confident, go for it. Use your clothes to express yourself, just don’t wear sweats or stripper clothes everywhere. Be happy with your weight, just be mindful of your health. If you want to change something about yourself, do it because you want to, not because you feel like you have to.

Personally, I have little to no skill with “girly” things. My hair has a mind of its own, so I just let it do its own thing, and the most makeup I can handle is some eyeshadow and mascara. I prefer t-shirts, jeans, and tennis shoes. I have struggled for so long with my weight and I still have a lot of issues, and I’m working on that, but right now I am who I am and I’m going to own it.

So find your happy medium. Figure out what beautiful means to you and embrace it, but don’t judge others for what it means to them. Your image is one of your greatest tools of expression, so respect yourself and show the world who you are. Be mindful of the extremes, though.

I’m going to end this by sharing some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten. I was feeling down about myself and the fact that I didn’t have that many friends, wondering what I was doing that was making people not like me. My dad understood. He told me that he worried about me a lot because I was so much like him and he knew what I was going to go through due to our shared personalities. He also told me that eventually I was going to realize that it doesn’t matter how much other people like me as long as I like myself. He said he hated this phrase so much, but it served the purpose perfectly nonetheless. “You do you.” And I laughed at the pure absurdity of that coming out of my dad’s mouth, but I’ll never forget it. As long as I know I’m doing what I think is right and that I’m being myself, then I know I’m going to be okay.

And so ends this extremely long post. Thanks for spending some time on me, now go spend some time on you. Go on, go have some fun. You do you, Internet.

~Sara

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About somewhatsara

Hello, internet friends! My name is Sara and I am a college freshman. Books are my best friends and my computer is the reason I don’t go outside. I am majoring in English and double minoring in Writing and Game Studies and Design, so maybe you’ll be playing one of my games someday. I never go anywhere without some type of music and I draw when I’m bored, although not very well.

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