Picture from Will we accept celebrities without makeup?
Colbie Caillat shown with and without makeup in this promotional image promoting her new song and music video titled Try. The song questions our unwillingness to accept women in their natural state. Image ©Republic Records

Will we accept celebrities without makeup?

I enjoy Colbie Caillat’s music and her voice. Her recent single from her new EP Gypsy Heart takes on a more serious tone and offers a very important message to women… and men.

Titled Try, the lyrics attest to the image expectations so many women feel they must meet every single day. “Put your makeup on, Get your nails done, Curl your hair, Run the extra mile, Keep it slim so they like you. Do they like you?” are the words from the opening verse.

The message truly hits home when these lyrics are combined with the visuals from the corresponding music video she has released. In the video she sings (and other women lip sync) the song while slowly removing her makeup. By the end of the video the cast, who began in completely “made up” mode, are presenting themselves barefaced into the high-definition camera. It creates a captivating before-and-after effect that emphasizes the message of her song.

Not surprisingly Colbie’s point of the importance of pure beauty has caught the attention of the media including, most ironically, the publication Elle in which she discusses her experience with creating the video—an idea hatched during a discussion with music mogul Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds. In the interview Colbie says she likes herself just fine when she’s not caked in makeup but admits to thinking “...other people might not like me that way.” She also discusses having her image “Photoshopped” for an album cover (someone felt her arm needed to be “shaved down”) and how her mother and grandmother helped teach her these values by being content with their natural appearance.

I applaud Colbie Caillat’s effort. But are we, the finicky public, truly willing to accept our female celebrities without a layer of makeup covering their real faces? And will we consider listening to singers based on the quality of their voices as opposed to the image they project? Sadly I suspect many great vocalists from the past century (women and men) wouldn’t stand a chance today for the simple reason that they don’t fit “the mould” of what we expect a successful artist to look like. When my daughter introduced me to Colbie Caillat’s music I didn’t even think about what she looked like. I simply liked the music.

One of the points Colbie makes in her Elle interview is how people will refer to women as “brave” for not wearing makeup. Frankly I’ve never thought of women who can head out of the door without a whitewash of chemicals as being “brave,” instead I’ve seen them as recognizing there are often more important things to spend their time on. Certainly I appreciate appropriate grooming and hygiene habits in women and men, but why must a woman attain an adjective once used to describe war heroes for simply presenting her natural self?

Men, we need to help our wives, daughters, mothers and loved ones move past this. Not being a woman I cannot attest to the peer pressure faced each day by so many who feel so imperfect (although there is a certain element of image consciousness within the male gender as well—it just doesn’t manifest itself in the same way). I feel it’s important for us to consider the messages we send when we identify someone as “pretty” or “attractive.” Compliments are important motivators for all of us, but are we praising the image or the person beneath?

Thank you Colbie for getting an important conversation started.

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