It seems these days, everyone is trying to jump on the natural beauty bandwagon. Earlier this year, Aerie released an unretouched lingerie campaign showcasing models of all different sizes and shapes. More recently, Bongo unveiled its Fall 2014 campaign images featuring Vanessa Hudgens, unsullied by Photoshop’s tools of distortion. Last week, John Legend‘s music video for “You & I (Nobody in the World)” tugged on our heartstrings with a diverse sampling of women (special needs, transgender, Asian, black, disabled) from all walks of life from all around the world. Pharrell Williams‘ G I R L album has a fair share of tracks celebrating women in the “you’re perfect as you are” vein.
Colbie Caillat is the latest artist to latch onto the trend, with the release of her music video for “Try.” The concept is simple enough: a sampling of women, dressed in full makeup and hair, mouth the words of the tune against a white background as they slowly remove their makeup during the course of the video. Producers strip away the filter effect to reveal women who are just as beautiful without all the jams, jellies and hair extensions usually attributed with beauty. “You don’t have to change a single thing,” the singer croons as the smiling women wipe down their faces with cleansing cloths.
“‘Try’ is the first music video I’ve never prepared for,” Colbie wrote in an Instagram post promoting her new video. “I didn’t go tanning, I didn’t diet, I didn’t heavily workout, I didn’t get my hair done, I didn’t get my nails done, I didn’t have a stylist, I didn’t get my eyebrows tinted… it felt wonderful! “
The video certainly has a good message — really, what could be bad about telling women to love themselves as they are? I just can’t help but wonder if artists and brands are simply taking advantage of the Photoshop backlash for their own gain? Unretouched photos of any celebrity or campaign are enough to spark a lot of attention — just ask Lena Dunham, whose pre-Photoshopped images from Vogue went for $10,000. It’s instant click bait, and guaranteed to garner some attention, since retouching is such a common and egregiously overused practice. In a world where a missing limb in a magazine spread is the norm, there is definitely a need for positive reflections on women’s beauty. This video certainly provides that.
But with so many people coming out to reassure women that they look OK in spite of society’s standards, it’s only natural to wonder if this message is slowly becoming trite. Colbie’s video is touching, but that message only goes so far when you open a magazine and see a pore-less rendering of the singer in its pages.
But you be the judge. Watch Colbie’s video below and decide if you think it’s a smart way to garner buzz around her new project or a tool of female empowerment.