As I write this, Colbie Caillat’s new song and music video Try has exceeded over 10 million views and garnered a significant amount of media attention. And all for good reason – it’s a lovely song with a catchy tune and a brilliant message.
If you have’t already, watch it (but be prepared, it might make you tear up).
Most of the people who watch this video give it their thumbs up and share it in appreciation for its counter-cultural message:
Ladies, you don’t have to succumb to the pressure of making yourself up, baring skin or buying the latest trends just so “they” (friends, family, coworkers, other mums) approve and like you.
This message isn’t original, but it hits hard because it’s one we often forget. It’s one I forget. For a moment I’ll dismiss the number of YouTube comments about whether or not it’s ok for women to enjoy wearing make up (because I, for one, do enjoy getting made up and getting my hair done all pretty) because I think the people who’ve responded to this song by defending a woman’s prerogative to look and dress how she wants have missed the point entirely.
The point of the song is in the simple question Colbie Caillat poses to all her listeners:
Do you like you?
Repeated again, at the end of the song, Colbie asks: “When you’re all alone, by yourself, do you like you? Do you like you?”
Well, do you?
The question hits hard because, let’s face it, sometimes we’re so focussed on how we’re judged by others that we forget to consider how we’re really judging ourselves.
Young women, in particular, are notoriously self-deprecating and walk around feeling horrid about themselves and, sadly, compensate for that lack of self-value by investing a lot of time and money into things that are only valuable externally: clothes, shoes, hair, make up. We pitch a branded, social-media-friendly version of ourselves that doesn’t truly reflect how much we’re actually worth inside. I think part of that is because we forget how much dignity we actually have, and that this dignity is worth far more than the number of Instagram or Facebook ‘Likes’ we earn after posting a selfie.
And even if we aren’t posting selfies or photos of thigh gaps or the view of a beach through naked legs (I really hate those naked-leg-beach-photos), it doesn’t make us any less guilty of forgetting how beautiful we actually are and how confident we ought to be.
Women are constantly guilty of dismissing the importance of mental and emotional strength. We downplay our negotiation skills in ways that most men don’t (but let’s face it, anyone who’s survived a trip to Woolworths with a toddler throwing tantrums is a power negotiator), and we feel the need to prove ourselves even when we have a long list of successes (three hours of sleep that had you up before dawn, but still able to pack kids a semi-decent lunch box or go for that freezing cold run, while remembering to text your besty “good luck” for their job interview). We are our own worst enemies, our harshest critics and we self-sabotage constantly. Never mind how hard we’ve worked, how much we’ve given or how many challenges we’ve tackled and overcome – there are days we find ourselves listening to the nagging voice that says “you are not good enough”.
But the truth is, you are good enough.
You are enough.
And while I don’t entirely agree with Colbie’s statement that you “don’t have to change a thing” (because I do think there is always room to change, grow, let go and improve), I do believe strongly in the sentiment behind this song: You need to like you.
The truth is, how much (or how little!) you spend on the external things is irrelevant. Sure, those things are fun and they’re not evil in their own right. But they are temporary and they’ll fade in value over time. Your real beauty and worth – your capacity to love, connect with others, the legacy you leave with the people you encounter – is what matters and what maintains its value long after your make up comes off at night. That’s the stuff you need to invest in, that’s the stuff you need to see in yourself.
So let me leave this with the words we women should start singing to ourselves whenever we’re tempted to feel stupid and worthless:
“You don’t have to try so hard, you don’t have to give it all away. You just have to get up; you don’t have to change a single thing. You don’t have to try so hard, you don’t have to bend until you break. You just have to get up; you don’t have to change a single thing. Do you like you?
Because I like you.”