Last week, John Legend released the video for his single “You and I,” and full disclosure: It made me cry. The video is a unique case in which a song about the natural beauty of women is paired with truly diverse images, and it’s uplifting to see these women — of all ages, sizes, ethnicities — in the spotlight. But the song itself rubs the wrong way from the beginning, with opening lines to a woman who, wouldn’t you know, doesn’t realize she’s beautiful:
You fix your makeup just so / Guess you don’t know that you’re beautiful / Try on every dress that you own / You were fine in my eyes a half hour ago / If your mirror won’t make it any clearer I’ll be the one to let you know
If it sounds familiar, it’s because it’s a pretty tired motif: the woman who is beautiful, but doesn’t know she’s beautiful, and who absolutely needs to be told that she can be liberated from her makeup and mirrors.