In Personal

Don’t Try So Hard

Don't Try So Hard

Being a minority really fucks with your perception of beauty.
I'm convinced that my hair has a mind of its own.
I wore make up about 20 out of the roughly 200 days we lived abroad. And it felt wonderful and weird and wrong and lovely all at the same time.

Don't Try So Hard

I took this picture of myself last November. As I mentioned above, I didn't typically wear makeup while I was in South Africa. Instead, I found myself happiest when I was sitting in the sun with a bare face and free hair.

*edit to clarify: I forgot to mention that I no longer struggle with any of these feelings but rather battled them primarily when I was a teenager and young adult. I assume that the internal battle was very similar to someone who was concerned about another personal feature such as weight, height, or being ‘feminine enough'.*

This is one of those posts that is difficult to start writing. This is one of those posts that end up very different than how they originally started. This is one of those posts that is terrifying to publish.

I wasn't sure how to start this post so I decided to just list the three things that popped to my mind when Kate first contacted me about this link-up. When I first watched the Try video I was truly touched. While the whole “you don't know you're incredibly beautiful” song and video has been done before, something about this video was different. And it reminded me a lot of John Legend's video for You & I (Nobody In The World), which was released the same week. Both videos encourage women and men to embrace their natural beauty just as other campaigns have done in the past.

But what struck me about these videos is how they embrace diversity, because beauty and diversity are so closely related in my mind. Both videos feature women from a range of races/ethnicities. Both feature women fighting/surviving cancer. Both feature women young and old. Both encourage women to feel comfortable in their own skin and stop trying or hoping to be different. In my opinion, John Legend's video is the more powerful of the two since it beautifully incorporates aspects of beauty that we often don't talk about such as mastectomies, vitiligo, and disabilities. It also includes voices from the LGBT community by featuring comedian Tig Notaro and actress Laverne Cox.

Yes, the messages of the songs are important, but in my opinion, the impacts of the videos are much stronger. As I mentioned before, being a minority (whatever that means to you) really fucks with perceptions of beauty. Like it or not, the mainstreamed message of beauty for women is feminine, thin, white, and able-bodied. And yes, that is beautiful! But it isn't the only kind of beautiful. This idea of beauty, however, is casually reinforced with almost every magazine we see in a checkout line, each commercial, TV show, movie, billboard, etc. It was very confusing as a child to not see women who look like me in the media. Or, when I did, they are labeled exotic. It is confusing as an adult to continue to see diversity in the media somewhat ignored, stereotyped, or photoshopped to look more like the mainstream ideal of beauty. It is confusing to see women conforming to the mainstream ideal of beauty. The most confusing, however, is when I'm asked why I do not do things (like straighten my hair) that conform to that mainstream ideal of beauty.

If I'm being honest, and apparently I am, it took me a long time to feel comfortable in my own skin in large part to what I mentioned above. And I know I'm not alone. One of the blog posts recognized this year at BlogHer14 was a piece titled: Sometimes, I Still Wish I Was White. One line of the post really struck me: “I never saw my Asian features as anything beautiful, but a hindrance to any kind of advancement. Once people saw that I was Asian, I felt like it was a huge strike against me. I felt foreign and exotic in my own home country.” Although the author self-identifies as being Asian, if you were to replace “Asian features” with “biracial features” you would have the tagline of my childhood and most of my time as a young adult.

I truly appreciate these videos showing a range (but obviously not all) of people. And giving girls, ladies, and women examples of beauty to which they can relate; showing me examples of beauty to which I can relate.

Don't Try So Hard Link-Up

Treasure Tromp
Here's how the link-up works…

1. Let your picture take center stage on your blog and remember to include at least one thing that you find beautiful about yourself. (Use the hashtag #donttrysohardlinkup on Twitter & Instagram to share your pictures and posts!)

2. Follow your hosts and link-up your post!

3. Click around to others who have linked up and show them some positive feedback in the comment section. Do you love their eyes? Do they have cute freckles? Maybe they naturally have a beautiful glow! Let's soak the blogosphere in positive thought and self confidence for one day!

4. Sit back and remember that you don't have to try so hard. While it's nice to do our makeup and hair, wear trendy outfits, etc., it is so much more important to remember that you are beautiful just as you are! Cheers!

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Nicole is a treasure hunter and pup mama located in Seattle, Washington. Loves travel, politics, lifestyle, TV, & wine. She's an unapologetic SJW & feminist AF.

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  1. Girl Brooks
    4 years ago

    I absolutely LOVE this. John Legend’s video is SO powerful. All of this, the link up, your post, the idea.. it is all powerful.

  2. Louisa @ My Family and Abruzzo
    4 years ago

    John Legend’s video is really powerful. It’s so sad that so many of us grow up feeling this way. When I was little, I wished I had blonde hair and fair skin……but now, I like my dark hair and olive skin. You look beautiful in your photo by the way.

  3. Betsy Transatlantically
    4 years ago

    the older women in Colbie Caillat’s video made me tear up. they look so strong! as do YOU, always – you have the most contagious smile in pictures :)

  4. Leelee
    4 years ago

    I think your curls are so beautiful.

    1. Cassie Lee
      4 years ago

      I agree!!

  5. Cassie Lee
    4 years ago

    Thank you for hosting! I hadn’t seen John Legend’s video but I just love it. This link-up is amazing, thank you for hosting!

  6. Lifeplus1
    4 years ago

    Really beautifully written post. I think you may have missed one item on your list of what society considers ‘beautiful’, tan skin. That’s the beauty issue I’ve struggled with the most. I’m very fair skinned and I’ve always had a bit of envy for women who are naturally tan.

    I guess the grass is always greener on the other side. Unless we change our own minds about what makes us beautiful. x


  7. kdhopwood
    4 years ago

    You are beautiful and you have nothing to be ashamed of! Work it girl!! A post this awesome and it included John Legend?! Awesome Sauce!!

  8. Katherine Lacabe
    4 years ago

    Gorgeous woman and amazing post! Thank you for hosting this link up!

  9. Niki Caron
    4 years ago

    Thank you for your honesty – it can be really tough to open up in such a public way. But you are BEAUTIFUL! I didn’t even notice until I read it that you weren’t wearing any makeup in the photo, because you look so good without makeup! I think we all have things that we dislike about ourselves, and this is a good reminder to embrace our own (and others’!!!) uniqueness. For the record, I think the most beautiful women are those that are bi- or multi-racial are the most beautiful.

  10. Kristian Olson
    4 years ago

    Wow. This is an amazingly brave and honest post. Thank you for sharing this.

  11. Kristen Warren
    4 years ago

    what a beautifully written post! you are gorgeous. i think we have all felt something like this, we all have something we dont like or feel insecure about. its horrible, but its true. i wish i was as gorgeous as you without makeup! you are stunning. dont forget it xo

  12. KateAdam Florken
    4 years ago

    YES! I love this post friend! I understand that growing up white gave me a lot of privileges, but I don’t think I “got” that until I was in college. A friend mentioned on time about having a hard time finding a Barbie that looked like her when she I was little. I jokingly (and ignorantly said), “On my gosh! I know girl! The brunette Barbie was SO hard to find.” Um… no. She was talking about a Barbie of color and as a simple white girl, I never noticed that until I got older.

    You are SO beautiful inside and out and I couldn’t be happier that you agreed to help me host this fabulous linkup. Seriously. I am constantly in awe of you!


  13. KC Saling
    4 years ago

    Your hair totally rocks! To hell with straighteners and chemicals – let those awesome beautiful curls go free!

    So glad you guys decided to host this link-up. What a powerful message and movement, and love to see so many people participating. Way to go!

  14. Melissa Camacho
    4 years ago

    I really love your natural hair! you’re stunning! (I also really love your earrings and your smiling eyes) :) and THANK YOU for sharing John Legend’s video, I’ve been looking for it! *high five*

  15. Cece
    4 years ago

    I love this post!! I can identify with so much of what you are saying. When you grow up and only see images representing beauty that don’t look like you it’s a pretty clear message by omission. That is definitely one of the beautiful things about getting older for me. I don’t care about being “different” anymore.

  16. Anne @ Love the Here and Now
    4 years ago

    I look at you and see flawlessness….beautiful skin, gorgeous hair and lovely dimples. Thank you so much for allowing all of us to join you ladies and accept ourselves as we are. Love that we are debunking the myth that perfection exists. We all have beauty….now if only we can see it in ourselves!

  17. Bri @ Simple Delights
    4 years ago

    You have such beautiful skin and a natural beauty to you. Thank you for sharing your words above too. So touching and inspiring to women everywhere.

  18. Carolyn
    4 years ago

    I love this idea and that so many people are banding together to support it!

  19. jackie jade
    4 years ago

    love your post and the spin that you put on it. being biracial too, it certainly makes things a little confusing growing up. which is something i’ve been wanting to write about on my blog too. it’s important to remember everyone is different and that that is a GOOD thing.

  20. Amanda MeeMee
    4 years ago

    I love that people are finally putting messages like this out there!!!!!!!!! The world needs more of this. And bravo to you for being a part of that voice!

  21. Jenn
    4 years ago

    love those videos and your message! you look flawless without make up!

  22. The Grits
    4 years ago

    Learning to love yourself for the skin you are in and the kind of beauty you have is so so so so incredibly hard – and something that I am still learning. Excellent post – so well said.

  23. Kayla Hollatz
    4 years ago

    Love love LOVE your curls! You are beautiful. I am writing my linkup post right now and can’t wait to join this awesome group!

  24. SimplyEvani
    4 years ago

    Great post Nicole! There rarely goes a day I go bare in the face and I often joke about putting on “my face” but it does feel good to go free! I don’t do it nearly often enough, maybe I should give it a try.

  25. Raewyn Smith
    4 years ago

    I absolutely love this link up! I’m sharing it this Sunday in my weekly links :)

  26. Chelsea
    4 years ago

    You are stunning, with makeup and without it!

  27. Amanda
    4 years ago

    I saw that Try video a few weeks ago and fell in love. SUCH an inspiring and wonderful video. What a great idea for a linkup! If i hadn’t been out of town, I totally would have joined in. Maybe I still will! Looks like I have 4 days :)

  28. theKatrinaM
    4 years ago

    Growing up as a minority in America is cruel in itself.

  29. Kate @ Another Clean Slate
    4 years ago

    I think you’re beautiful! And even though i don’t “know” you, it seems you’ve got the beauty down internally as well. I’m glad you no longer struggle with the feelings.

  30. Mira Johnson, CPC
    4 years ago

    Wow, I love your dimple and your gorgeous wild hair. Thank you for the additional John Legend video. I was even more moved by it than ‘Try’.

    Thank you for making this linkup happen, an amazing idea =)

    I’ve joined in too!

    (a video of me shaving my head, very intimate & vulnerable)

  31. Angie
    4 years ago

    What a powerful post and such beautiful songs. Thank you for sharing.