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Sarah Maxwell

Chasing the imperfect

There has been some buzz growing over singer Colbie Caillat’s new music video “Try.” For those who haven’t seen it, she and a few other women start off in full hair and makeup. By the end of the song, they have been stripped of the facade so many feel they need to wear going into public. Caillat and the other women end the music video bare faced and fresh looking.

I love hearing about women in the public eye who are trying to buck the stereotype women have to be made up from head to toe and can only be a Size 2 to be considered pretty. It’s refreshing and gives me hope that my niece, who is a year and a half, will never face the same insecurities I faced growing up and as an adult. Because let’s be honest, we all have them.

In today’s society, both men and women are put under a lot of pressure to look a certain way. We are pressured by the media and entertainment, but I think we put more pressure on ourselves to look and act a certain way.

The lyrics in the last stanza are especially powerful in their determination to encourage women to be themselves: “Take your make-up off/Let your hair down/Take a breath/Look into the mirror, at yourself/ Don’t you like you?/Cause I like you.”

Often times we are told to just be ourselves and that’s easier said than done. Judgment and self-depreciation starts at an early age in school. You see cliques begin to form and hierarchies set. If you don’t fit the look of the group, you’re out. So from an early age we try to conform to these preconceived notions of what it means to be beautiful and fit in. For me, it was the girls with the sleek brown hair, not a strand out of place, who ruled the roost. I was the girl with stick, straight blonde hair which was both limp and flat or in a ponytail.

It took me a while to accept myself. Looking back, I wish I could shake my younger self. I wish I could tell myself I was the way I was meant to be and to stop wasting my time trying to be different. And this is where I’m happy to see the beginning of change. Our culture is starting to fight against the extreme Photoshopped images we have seen for so many years in advertising, and companies are listening to our concerns and requests.

More companies are looking to create positive body-image ads. For instance, Aerie, which is a branch of American Eagle Outfitters, has stopped retouching their models. Their ads now feature girls and women with wrinkles, soft stomachs and other normal attributes we all share. In the United Kingdom, products can’t be advertised if the campaign features unrealistic results. So don’t expect to be seeing a woman with almost faking-looking eyelashes in a mascara commercial anymore. It all has to be real.

This all gets me back to my initial thoughts when I heard Caillat’s latest song. I’m no saint in how I perceive my body. I know there are going to be days when I hate my hair because it won’t cooperate and will eventually be thrown into a ponytail or braid. I know there are going to be days when my face breaks out even though I’m not a teenager anymore. I know there are going to be times when I look in my closet and feel out of place in every item I own. But what I also know is no one is perfect. We are all imperfect, but it’s how we face that imperfection that defines our character.

I choose imperfection over perfection.

BCR Copy Editor Sarah Maxwell can be reached at smaxwell@bcrnews.com.