Hello, my name is Rhian – and I love One Direction.
Okay, I’ll be honest with you from the start. This is not entirely about One Direction (if it was, this would be a dissertation).This is actually about accepting yourself, not bringing each other down, and the power of young girls.
My first impression of One Direction is hardly worth writing about…
I had just started my second year of university, and my friends and I would listen to their debut single What Makes You Beautiful whilst drinking before we went out, drunkenly belting out the lyrics and not really knowing who sang the song.
I didn’t really think anything more of the band (I legitimately thought there were only four members for a long time) until last summer, three years after the band was formed.
I was working a lot of evening shifts at work, had just graduated from uni and I had a lot of spare days on my hands.
One day I was watching the music channel on the television, and their new music video for Best Song Ever came on. I didn’t think much of the song, but I did have one, very clear thought by the end of the video.
Woah. They’re really hot.
Those boys had certainly grown into five, very good looking young men. I was so taken by them that I immediately Googled them and their ages so I could make sure I wasn’t feeling anything wildly inappropriate. Nope – they were all around my age, and I had definitely just found my new eye candy.
At first, I was embarrassed.
I didn’t tell anyone about this new found love, except for my best friend.
I didn’t dare tell my housemate for fear he’d make fun of me.
No one knew, and I secretly began watching all their music videos on my iPad, following them each on Twitter and Instagram and surreptitiously liking everything they posted.
I got excited by their new songs and videos, but that excitement was completely internal.
To the outside world and my friends and family, I just happened to fancy Harry Styles a bit.
And then around a week ago, over a year after I had stumbled across that music video of their’s and became hooked, I found myself wondering:
Why was I embarrassed?
Why didn’t I want anyone to know that I really, really liked – loved – One Direction?
The most obvious answer was that people would make fun of me; this was something I instinctively knew.
But I pushed my mind further: why? Why would people make fun of me?
A while back, a slightly older friend of mine with three young children caught me singing along to one of their songs on the radio at work.
‘Urgh,’ she had grimaced. ‘My daughters love them. Gross.’
I worked out that I knew people would make fun of me because One Direction’s fan base is mainly made up of young, pre-pubescent girls.
Documentaries had been made and aired of these ‘crazy’ fans, of how they were so obsessed with the band that they bought everything they produced and tweeted them incessantly, and how their only dreams were to meet Harry, Liam, Louis, Niall and Zayn.
They are a fan base that society and the music industry have frequently scoffed at and pushed aside because they are young girls.
And as soon as I realised that, that the reason I was worried people would be make fun of me for liking One Direction was because it would mean that I might be like one of those teenaged girls, I actually got very angry with myself.
What does that say about young girls? I thought to myself. I’d been one myself, and not that long ago. Why would you undermine them like that? Are you saying their opinions don’t matter? Are you saying that anything they like must be rubbish, simply because they are young girls?
It’s an opinion that has sadly been long-standing, and has really affected One Direction’s careers.
People refuse to take their music seriously, writing it off as ‘bubble-gum pop’ simply because their fan base is made up of young girls. And it’s still going on, despite the fact that their new album FOUR has had rave reviews from the music industry.
It has gotten to a stage where critics are asking people to put their judgement aside, just for a moment, and to listen to their music because actually, it’s really good – and it’s not bubble gum pop at all. It’s more 80s inspired rock than anything.
When I heard their newly released songs, I realised that I didn’t just like this band because I thought they were good looking – I really like their music, as well. And with that realisation, I decided that I wasn’t going to let anyone undermine me for liking this band, or for anything else I might like.
These people who scoff at One Direction for their fan base clearly don’t see the power that these young girls have.
These people who say they would rather listen to The Beatles don’t see that The Beatles were the One Direction of their day – or that The Beatles’ fame was mainly down to their fan base, made up of young teenage girls.
I ask you to look at the incredible journey One Direction has had in just four years: they have released four highly successful albums, broken the US market, and completed three tours, the last of which was a stadium tour.
Who do they have to thank for these dizzying heights of success? Their fans – and the boys are sure to thank these fans for putting them there every opportunity they get.
Young girls had the power to take five boys who didn’t win the X-Factor and to make them some of the highest earning individuals in the world, and the most successful boy-band ever.
Looking at those facts, I struggle to see why you would ever think to undermine young girls, and to act as though their opinions don’t matter. Don’t undermine these girls: recognise them for the incredible power they have. Celebrate it.
I am now embracing the fact that I love One Direction – and not because more and more people are coming round to liking their music, and it is now supposedly acceptable to like them.
Frankly, I think that’s insulting to me and the rest of their fans, as it implies that we need the rest of society’s approval to like them.
No, I am now embracing my love for this band because I have decided that no one can tell me what I can and can’t like, within reason.
I don’t undermine anyone else for liking what they like, so why should I let them do so for me?
I accept what I like, and you can certainly bet that the next time a One Direction song comes on the radio, I will ask you to turn it up so I can enjoy it.
Because, you know what? I like One Direction – and I, and the rest of their fans, don’t need anyone else’s opinion to validate that.
This post was written by our fabulous guest blogger Rhian Eleri Jenkins! Follow her on Twitter @rhian_eleri.
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