I love One Direction.
After a quick browse through any of my social media accounts one will find that in between my angry feminists posts are just as many (or more, depending on who you ask) posts about how much I want to bang Harry Styles.
In January of 2012 I was going through my lowest low to date. I was in the middle of my year abroad in London and it was everything I had wanted for as long as I can remember. But, depression is a crafty beast. Even if your life is going swimmingly, your brain has way of making you feel like it is not. For over a month I was too sad to leave my room. Too sad to sleep. Too sad to eat. And far too sad to talk to anyone about it.
But then I discovered One Direction…and instead of pondering the state of my miserable existence at four in the morning, I was awake watching their old X-Factor performances on youtube. And instead of spending hours talking to my manipulative ex-boyfriend, I spent hours talking to my new 20-something fandom friends about the ever-changing state of Zayn Malik’s quiff.
Those boys and all their pop glory pulled me out of my hole and for that I am eternally grateful.
The thing with One Direction, besides the fact that they are all gorgeous and talented(this isn’t up for debate) is, their existence alone challenges the rigid structure of hegemonic masculinity. Their open unguarded affection for one another is primarily what attracted me. They dole out hugs, kisses, and cheeky nipple tweaks like chocolate chip cookies at a bake sale. Seeing such unapologetic behavior between heterosexual-presenting males (without a need to affirm “no homo” every moment) was refreshing.
But on an even larger scale, boy bands are generally important because they provide teen girls with a safe outlet to explore their sexualities. And for young girls who are just growing into themselves and their bodies, healthy exploration is better than being shamed and silenced.
Teen girls get a bad rap.
Not only are they bombarded with images that implore them to strive for unattainable perfection, but any piece of media they actively enjoy is automatically deemed “less than” and loses credibility (i.e. One Direction).
Many (ahem…douchey, male, music elitists) conveniently forget that if it weren’t for a passionate group of teen girls, The Beatles wouldn’t have achieved even half of their success. And in the present day, teen girls have managed to propel one direction into the realm of super stardom. Teen girls have made them into the first billion dollar boy band (and yes, if you’re keeping track, even bigger than The Beatles).
So the next time you want to scoff and turn your nose up at One Direction (or the next IT pop star of the moment) remember this: Teen girls are beautiful, strong, and ultimately, they are a goddamn force to be reckoned with.