The entire interwebz has been in girl crush mode over a viral music video by Colbie Caillat called, "Try". If you live in 1992 or on some weird island where your girlfriends don't tag you to watch pseudo-feminist viral videos, I'll pause now and let you take a gander. Go on. I'll wait while your pupils swirl and you get the urge to wipe off your lip gloss. You hussy.
I've got a bit of news, ladies. This isn't feminism. Feminism isn't placing the blame on women for a problem society created. The lyrics include one glaring red flag, "don't give it all away". Excuse me? What exactly am I "giving away" by painting myself up like the whore I enjoy being? Come at me, bra. I've got it all - eyeliner, blush, three eyeshadows, an industrial strength corset and an arsenal of hair elixirs I gleefully smear on my person with feverish delight. What am I giving away? Is my body a product that I need to charge for? Is there a sale on my breasts in aisle 5? Maybe if a man buys me enough trinkets or pays for dinner he has access.
My body is mine. I decorate it the way I see fit because I enjoy it. There are days my husband kisses me goodbye in my jammies and by the time he gets home, I'm back in them again with the same granny glasses back on my face. In the time he has been gone, I've slathered myself up in 12 kinds of face paint, saw exactly no I knew at CostCo and come home to strip it all back off again. I don't do it for him. I don't do it for you. I do it for me.
Am I the world's greatest beauty? Of course not, but I have commandeered survival of the fittest. Brains over brawn. I figured out the rules of society and used them to my advantage. Astonishing fact: guys like blondes and it makes me feel like sunshine. Guess which hair color I picked when I was 17 and never looked back? Don't tell Colbie Caillat! I guess only natural born pretty girls get to go to prom and the rest of us can hide in the Belfry Tower and wait for our chance to star in her music videos about pretending to not wear make-up.
But enough about my personal habits. What of this lyric, "you don't have to try" which is possibly even more problematic? Suuuuuure we don't have to try. This irritates me because it places the blame on women for living inside society's norms instead of on the media and current attitudes that put that norm in place. Just love yourself! Just be yourself! Bwahahahahah! You know what the truth is? The more standard a lady looks and the more forgettable her looks are, the easier her life is. There are exceptions for daunting beauties, but the rest of us are just trying to get by.
Most make-up isn't about looking hot or seducing everyone in the room. There's a place for that too, but it's not the end game of people's daily routines. Women and girls wear make-up to normalize their appearance. Nose too big? Shade it down. Lips too small? Draw them on. It's not a failure of the individual to have figured out the way to maneuver in a flawed society. If anyone is failing the girls and women who normalize their appearance with cosmetics, it's the photo editors and their a-hole bosses and clients who dictate they turn a 44-year-old mother of twins into a Jessica Rabbit mannequin.
I guess I'll just be a terrible person and point out that Colbie Caillat was still wearing make-up at the end of the video. I know, I just ruined the magic for you, didn't I? Do you know why Colbie Calliat is wearing "no-make-up make-up" at the end of this video when everyone else's faces and sometimes heads are bare? Because she's not trying to sell her message or feminism. She's trying to sell music and the way to get attention and sell a product, if you are a woman in western society, is to coat your face in make-up even when you're saying you're not and especially when telling other people to not to as well.
Let's play along. That's always fun. Let's say Colbie Caillat's message is not so much to go completely without make-up, but rather to tone it down. It's okay to wear SOME make-up but not THAT much. It's okay to play up your features and do it so subtly you can get away with people thinking you're not wearing make-up. It's okay to cover a zit, but if you cross over into vanity and achieve a beauty and sensuality that exceeds Colbie Caillat's threshold for what you should look like, well, take that vamp stamp off your face, whore. We have a name for that. It's called slut-shaming.
Guess what ladies! It's okay to look like a Colbie Caillat's idea of a slut! Do you know why? Because Colbie Caillat is not your mother, your boss or the head of the sorority you want to rush. Wear the red lipstick if it suits you.
It seems girls will be shamed no matter what. If you rock your natural skin and hair, you get called weird. If you learn the unspoken rules of society and conform to them to give yourself the best advantage in life, you're just a superficial, poser fake-face who shouldn't "try so hard". Only true natural beauties deserve any attention, okay? There is no winning, ladies. Learn it soon, repeat it often.
Or give black eyeliner a try.
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