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Colbie Caillat serves up yet another female empowerment anthem. Will it make a difference?


Singer Colbie Caillat has a message for you: Stop trying so hard.

In her new music video, “Try”, the Grammy-award winner challenges the stereotypical descriptions of beauty by going au natural. The songwriter and guitarist unclips her hair extensions and rubs off her makeup, trying to erase the photoshop culture that’s become so prevalent in pop culture. The song has become an anthem for young women who identify with Caillat when she sings, “You don’t have to try so hard…. You don’t have to change a single thing.”

The music video has been making the rounds on everything from national news to social media, with more than 8 million hits on YouTube. Even companies are noticing Caillat’s musical message, with Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign tweeting about the singer’s new hit.

Caillat is just the latest celeb to shed her skin, so to speak. Everyone from Rihanna to Cameron Diaz have opted for a selfie, sans makeup. She’s also not the first singer to make a musical ode to the unrealistic beauty standards set by society, perpetuated by pop stars, models in magazines and so-called reality TV celebs. Pink took on the name-dropping, designer-wearing, fake-smiling culture of Hollywood in her song, “Stupid Girls.” In her song, “Hard Out Here”, Lily Allen basically tells men how hard it is to measure up to what’s now considered the ideal woman.” She even tries to take back the B-word, tackle the slut-shaming issue and talk inequality, all in one song.

They’re all very admiral approaches, even though these are the same pop princesses who inevitably feed the cycle, whether they mean to or not. I’m not saying I want my celebrities in yoga pants and a messy bun — at least not all the time. It’s fun to look flawless and fashionable, but we’d be kidding ourselves if we don’t think that Kate Upton’s perfect body or Kim Kardashian’s lovely locks aren’t affecting us or their younger, more impressionable fans.

How many songs or campaigns or ads will it take to reverse the damage that’s already been done?  Yes, women are as strong and independent as they’ve ever been. Katy Perry wants you to hear her “Roar”, but not before she tells you how one time she “kissed a girl and she liked it.”  The images of what is considered beautiful are ingrained in us. It comes at us in advertisements (Did you catch this girl covered in Doritos ad or the cod fish commercial that I’m pretty sure isn’t about a sandwich at all?)  Or there are the magazines like Marie Claire and Elle, which are begging for a pat on the back with sections like “Society, Career and Power” or  MC@work while having photoshopped women on their covers.  Those demands are what caused me to straighten my hair with an iron meant for clothes when I was 13 years old and what makes my little cousins want to wear my high-heels and put on my lip gloss. That kind of influence can’t be erased with a couple of songs or ads. It can only come with time.

At the end of the song, when Caillat sheds her extensions and wipes off her makeup, the lyrics change to “Don’t you like you? Because I like you” basically passing on the message that self-worth should come from within. Easier said than done.



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Nia-Malika Henderson · July 16, 2014

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