Last month my talented singer song writer sister Jenna, introduced me to Colbie Calliat. She sent me her latest song TRY, which resonated deeply with me. The song speaks of how women often bend over backwards trying to achieve the perfect image; the perfect look, figure, appearance and popularity. We think that by changing our appearance, more people will like us ( and sometimes they do, but as a male friend of mine likes to say it’s not “real”).
I cried when I heard the song for the first time. It brought with it images of my younger self trying so desperately to fit in, trying to be part of a group, trying to have friends, trying to be liked. Trying to be “intellectual”, trying to sound sophisticated and trying to be polished, trying to be wild, trying to be loud and carefree,trying to please an imaginary crowd. Most of the characters I chose and owned, but at the core of it, I assumed all of them because I was attempting to “fix” myself into an image of someone who people would ” like”. Until it dawned on me that it didn’t matter if the whole world loved me, what mattered most is if I loved myself, if I liked myself, could live alone with myself and like me once the “performance” was over.
I was inspired to create a motivational parody for women’s month – using Colbie’s song, symbolically stripping myself of everything I wasn’t born with. Because while it is always wonderful and fun to try new looks, I have observed in myself and in others that over time we slowly begin to believe that it’s the extra hair, the make up, the clothes, etc that makes us beautiful. We put value on accessories, costumes and fashion, on the appearance of beauty instead of spending time loving ourselves as we are (men are good at loving their natural selves). We end up feeling naked without all of these appendages.
This tendency to create an external attachment to beauty was recently crystallized in my own life when I decided to cut off my long braids which I loved and enjoyed. I found myself having an internal struggle with myself, suddenly doubting that I could be/ find myself beautiful without them. I had received more compliments about my ” good looks” when I had long braids than at any other time with my natural hair. I had to cut them off because I noticed that I started believing that I was beautiful because of the braids. I found my attachment to the plastic hair curiously disturbing, because it was not the first time I had braids, but it was the first time I had a hard time letting go of them.
I began to understand that a head knowledge (theoretical) understanding of what self-worth and self-love is, is not the same as the actual experience of it. i.e – I could just as easily argue that wearing braids and make-up is evidence of self-love because I am taking care of myself, making myself look nice while at the same time I could be using the same hair and make up to hide the fact that I don’t like how I look “naturally” or without the extras. Unless we experience what loving ourselves actually means we can always hide behind theories, using them to explain why we continue to place our worth on external, material things.
This song helped me through that moment of insecurity, which was bizarre to me because I thought I was confident in myself i.e I am not my fake hair. I had to remember that my beauty is not without but within. I had to begin again the journey to self-love. We spend a lot of money and time making ourselves beautiful for the world and little time loving ourselves just as we are.
Then I thought if fake hair had this effect on me after a few weeks then, many more women must be going through the same thing too ( though I do hope I’m wrong here).
In celebration of women’s month I decided to do a motivational parody or what I call a ” selfie-performance”, short video of my own – taking off all my literal and metaphoric masks. Because it’s not the hair or the make up that’s in question, it is whether you can like or love yourself without it. Hope you enjoy the video ( I didn’t expect to cry while doing it) but I am after all a woman. The video is not edited in the spirit of “not trying too hard” and just keeping it real.
Happy Women’s Month! Let’s love ourselves first – The rest will follow!
Because you’re amazing, just the way you are!