Body Image Done Right: Colbie Caillat’s “Try”

Colbie Caillat at the beginning of the "Try" music video. Simple and stunning, just like the song.

Colbie Caillat at the beginning of the “Try” music video. Simple and stunning, just like the song.

A lot of artists have produced well-intentioned songs dealing with body image and self-esteem as of late. Though these tracks have a good feel and move the music industry in the right direction, several of them miss the mark: John Legend’s patronizing “You & I,” Bruno Mars’s subtly sexist “Just The Way You Are,” and even Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass,” which veers into the realm of skinny-shaming and man-appeasement. However, Colbie Caillat hits all the right notes with “Try” – instead of pushing women to respect themselves in a certain way, she tells them to love themselves without condition, no matter what anyone else thinks.

Lyrics of "Try" from www.azlyrics.com.

Lyrics of “Try” from http://www.azlyrics.com.

Caillat ends several of her verses with the line “do you like you?” By asking that question, she shows that when it comes to loving yourself, it does not matter whether your boyfriend likes you, whether your parents like you, or whether your friends like you. Caillat makes a clear point: you need to like you. Because, in the end, our bodies belongs to us. Though others might see the outside, we must deal with our bodies during every second of the day, when we wake up in the morning and when we go to sleep at night. Caillat, in an understated yet sincere way, promotes self-love and responsibility – even though others can lend us support, it is up to us to cultivate ourselves into self-accepting individuals, both on the surface and beneath it.

The lyric “you don’t have to try so hard” exemplifies how Caillat chooses her words with care. The “have to” reveals that women do not have to put on make-up, but if they want to, they should go right ahead. Instead of constraining women with a certain ideal – you’re only beautiful if you’re modest, you’re only valuable if a man tells you so – Caillat gives women agency over their actions, ensuring that others’ opinions hold no sway in their decisions. Everyone should appreciate this song’s message because it speaks to the type of independence that possesses the most power of them all: the form of freedom that comes with self-ownership.

Colbie Caillat’s “Try” wins me over because it supports loving yourself, as well as loving your body. In a day and age that stresses loving others, we must recognize that a humble yet honest self-love allows us to experience compassion for people outside of ourselves. We must work from the inside out – not just with body-positivity, but with an all-encompassing appreciation of the self – in order to move forward and into the lives of those around us.

The "Try" music video features a diverse set of races, ages, and sizes. It's not perfect - there are no Asians - but it's a praiseworthy effort.

The “Try” music video features a diverse set of races, ages, and sizes. It’s not perfect – there are no Asians – but it’s a praiseworthy effort.

What do you guys think? Like or dislike the song? Do you interpret it in a different way than I do? After spending a good portion of my summer reading and writing about eating disorders, I got so emotional the first few times I watched the music video. I almost cried, but they were tears of joy and understanding, I think. Anyway, if you want to check out my reviews of The Color Purple by Alice Walker, Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri, or Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater, you can do so here, here, and here respectively. Hope you all have a great Sunday and a fabulous start to next week!

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11 Comments

Filed under Pop, Society

11 responses to “Body Image Done Right: Colbie Caillat’s “Try”

  1. I love the song and the video. Made sure my kids saw it!

  2. memoirsofkeisha

    Very nice, I’ll definitely be checking out your other reviews.

  3. The Howling Fantogs

    I haven’t heard the song, but I will check it out. Sounds similar in sentiment to Christina’s ‘Beautiful.’

    • I hadn’t made that connection, but you’re right, though I feel like “Try” has a more focused approach. Both songs are wonderful. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  4. I cannot express how much I appreciate this song. I have been told about my weight for the entirety of my teens and up till now as I exit them. I will continue to be bombarded with these comments in different approaches. Then there was a day that I just began ignoring them because trying was so hard. The scary thing is that I had convinced myself that I’m not good enough because I’m ‘fat’, whatever everyone consider it to be nowadays. I’m not obese just well rounded I’m still coming to feel okay with this, it’s like a bruise that still hurts after all this time.

    From growing up as children we try to gain acceptance from peers and family. I think it’s a basic impulse, to be liked. The thing is during those younger years most of us weren’t taught to love and accept ourselves more. This is what Try is encouraging. Some people naturally have this self confidence while some have to build it. But then again, does self confidence always equal self acceptance?

    But it is so important, and that we subject ourselves to the image of what others see us as is not fair not to mention horrifying when you think about how much that kind of power we allow other people over ourselves.

    More recently, when I feel getting ready is becoming complicated I question if I’m doing this for me, a yes or no question answer. And I basically don’t give a damn more and more once I’m okay with it. Besides if we are comfortable with who we are we may attract like minded individuals which is rewarding in itself as is realizing that I am finally enough for me. Another excellent post, Thomas (:

    • Inspiring comment, Devina! You’re spot-on with all of your analysis, and I agree that “Try” shows that while some people might have a natural self-confidence or self-acceptance, others need to take the time to build it for themselves. That self-growth is something I see within you as you describe your experiences – it’s wonderful that you’ve recognized how people have treated you in the past and what you want to do about it in the future. Thank you for your thoughtful and heartfelt response!

  5. Amazing song ! Thank-you for sharing.

  6. As a woman who grew up with a father who valued how good-looking the people around him were (as if we only existed as a reflection of him), and at age 21, 5’9″ at 128 pounds thought I was FAT, I thank you for being so thoughtful and for posting this. It took until my 30s to toss off that attitude, which miraculously never took me down the road to anorexia. At 52, I finally do ‘like me.’ I hope more people your age have your wisdom-maybe the current generation of young men and women won’t have to go through what we did if they do. Your voice in this ether is very fresh and authentic.

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