For many years, I have been a devout One Direction fan. Yet despite being the same age as the band members (I'm 23), it didn't stop the same old diatribe I received from people: "Your music taste is crap." "Oh, but they're a boy band, who likes boy bands?" "Aren't they for little girls?"
Excuse me, but no they're not and I'm also a fan of Fleetwood Mac, Paul Simon, Duran Duran, The Rolling Stones and Simple Minds, thank you very much.
Harry Styles will always be my favourite. Maybe it's because I've loved curly hair and green eyes ever since I could talk, maybe not. But whatever it is about him, it has stuck.
I was in my second last year of high school when One Direction were on X-Factor. Harry wore horrible loose chinos and his hair looked like a loofah, but the love was born.
Since then, I've finished high school, done a merry-go-round of university degrees, travelled and seen the world and guess what? That love for Harry Styles hasn't wavered. Hell, it's just grown. He's evolved over the years from a Hollister-wearing cherub to a head-to-toe Gucci model with an affinity for gold boots (which I absolutely adore). I've seen him grow, and alongside him, I've grown too.
Styles' most recent interview with Rolling Stone came out last week. In the interview, Cameron Crowe prods at the well-known perception of 'teenage fan girls' and how Styles will go with reeling in a new crowd due to his solo venture. Crowe specifically writes that Styles becomes animated when replying, and I'm thankful he did.
"Styles is aware that his largest audience so far has been young – often teenage – women. Asked if he spends pressure-filled evenings worried about proving credibility to an older crowd, Styles grows animated. 'Who's to say that young girls who like pop music – short for popular, right? – have worse musical taste than a 30-year-old hipster guy? That's not up to you to say. Music is something that's always changing. There's no goal posts. Young girls like the Beatles. You gonna tell me they're not serious? How can you say young girls don't get it? They're our future. Our future doctors, lawyers, mothers, presidents, they kind of keep the world going. Teenage-girl fans – they don't lie. If they like you, they're there. They don't act 'too cool.' They like you, and they tell you. Which is sick.'"
Styles stands up for the girls who have always been stigmatised by tropes society has woefully put on teens, all because they tend to scream when they're excited. He point blank addresses that they're humans, and just like all humans, they deserve respect.
It's so nice to see someone of enormous reach acknowledge that teenage girls are an absolute force, because there is nothing more heartwarming and inspiring than a celebrity using their voice. It's even better when they're acknowledging that your love for them got them to where they are.
I think the reason teenagers are so frequently put into categories is because their unwavering love and care of something when they come together is considered terrifying.
Why is that so? I have no idea.
I think it's empowering to see teenage girls bond and create relationships over a mutual love for something. Yet society will label young girls who love boy bands as being obsessive, over the top, loud, and having crap taste in music. From someone who is cast in that category, I can wholeheartedly say it's not true. Don't even get me started on people who now turn around and say: "Wow, so and so is actually a good singer!" Well, yes, and they always have been, you just didn't give them the time of day because they were in a boy band. Like I said before, when 1D came on the scene, I was a Rolling Stones fan. Am I still a Stones fan today? Hell, yes. They're golden, but I think 1D are pretty golden too.
Teenagers are going through enough as it is, from friendships, to school, to puberty. It was and is a testing time. They deserve respect just as much as the "30-year-old hipster guy" Harry refers to, not the stigmas that mainstream media feed and all that comes with it.
When I was a teenager, I needed something to latch on to. To give me a laugh, to make me smile. The HSC was mentally, emotionally and even physically exhausting. My parents were separating. It wasn't a fun time, to say the least. So I'll be forever grateful for the day I clicked on a YouTube video that had a thumbnail of five boys dressed in absurd onesies, with the caption 'One Direction's Funniest Moments'. I've been here since that day, and that day was seven years ago. I've ridden the wave of 1D hysteria and I've loved every minute of it, and I'm going to love every minute of their individual careers.
Society doesn't bat an eyelid at die-hard football fans, and why should they? They're engaging with something that makes them feel something, something that makes them happy. Something that makes their blood pump through their veins at an alarming speed, which is a feeling that I'm sure a lot of people would want to capture forever.
As a society we should stop patronising, belittling and stereotyping teenage girls.
That feeling is the same thing a boy band fan experiences. A football fan screams when the ref makes a questionable call, a One Direction fan screams when their favourite member looks their way and throws water bottles into the crowd. There's noise, there's laughter, there's joy in both atmospheres. It shouldn't matter that one atmosphere consists of 'teen heartthrobs' singing on stage to a crowd which happens to be mostly young girls.
Someone once told me to never disregard, judge or mimic what makes a person happy. You have no idea what's going on in their lives, so if they like you enough to tell you they like a certain band, just be nice. It costs nothing to be nice.
As a society we should stop patronising, belittling and stereotyping teenage girls. Harry, God bless him and the golden boots he wears, has it right: they are our future. In order to make that future happen, we must support and encourage these bright young women to keep engaging with what makes them happy, because at the end of the day, what's wrong with a smile? Absolutely nothing.
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