One direction

ONE DIRECTION LOVES YOUR BUM

I love One Direction… especially Harry.

He’s the one on the right… cute as all get out.

I dance to their poppy-boppy music possibly even more than my 12 year-old daughter does, which is the source of much embarrassment to her.

She’s a typical tweenie – her latest obsession is painting her nails until they look like mini masterpieces. She spends way too long on her hair in front of the bathroom mirror. She and her friends are all concerned that they’re fashionable and well turned out.

And right there is one of the reasons for the massive success of One Direction – they’ve tapped into the insecurities of young girls. No surprises there. Their first smash hit said it all – You don’t know you’re beautiful. That’s what makes you beautiful.

Now, I love that One Direction are sending love and reassurance to our girls. Teenage angst is perennial.

However, in their latest chart-topper “Little Things” I was struck by these lyrics…

“I know you’ve never loved the crinkles by your eyes when you smile,

You’ve never loved your stomach or your thighs

The dimples in your back at the bottom of your spine

But I’ll love them endlessly

 

I know you’ve never loved the sound of your voice on tape

You never want to know how much you weigh

You still have to squeeze into your jeans

But you’re perfect to me

 

You never love yourself half as much as I love you

You’ll never treat yourself right, darling but I want you to

If I let you know, I’m here for you

Maybe you’ll love yourself like I love you, oh

 

I’ve just let these little things slip out of my mouth

Because it’s you, oh it’s you, it’s you they add up to

And I’m in love with you (all these little things)”

 

The song is written by Ed Sheeren, very clever songwriter. I’m a fan.

But my husband and I exchanged a look when we heard the song on the radio – the shared thought was that we really hope our daughter has more confidence in herself that these lyrics might suggest.

“Maybe you’ll love yourself like I love you.”

We really hope she’ll love herself as much as we, her parents, do.

Without over-analysing it (like I say, teenagedom and insecurity go together), have we really turned out a generation of girls who hate their bodies this much?

And that those feelings can only be healed by finding a boy who loves you and won’t blab to anyone about the truth of the self-loathing he witnesses?

(Is this something we are training boys to do – deal with this female loathing and love us in spite of it? That’s a terrible burden for them too, surely?)

How is a tweenie to grow into a young woman with confidence in herself when so much of popular culture reinforces this feeling of not measuring up?

How can we protect our girls from this daily celebration of narcissism?

In recalling the lyrics of the songs I loved when I was a teenager – The Monkees, Rick Springfield, Melanie, the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Joan Baez – I really can’t remember anything that articulated negative feelings about body image in quite this way.

Maybe I’ve forgotten.

Maybe I am overanalysing it.

Maybe it’s good that the insecurities of little girls are being named and sung about: “…but literally its a good message for people with weight problems bc they are saying that they r pefect to them!” says one young fan on a One Direction website.

But maybe it also says that we have to re-double our efforts to get our daughters away from the mirror and the TV and the magazines and the radio and out into the real world where perfection is unattainable and the pursuit of it blights women’s lives.

Perhaps our girls will grow out of it… but, like you, I know so many adult women who never have… how can we help our daughters do that?

just askin’

( Take 2 P!NK CD’s and call me in the morning?)

 

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44rp3SBLcQU[/youtube]

 

 

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41 Comments

  • Reply November 27, 2012

    Jackie

    My eldest daughter is nearly 13, she loves One Direction & sings this song endlessly to herself. Its easy to over-analyse they lyrics & fret & panic over her self esteem, I’m not, there is a lot worse she could be listening to.

    • Reply November 27, 2012

      Wendy Harmer

      I’m not fretting nor panicking… and I would never stop girls from listening. I’m genuinely interested in other’s thoughts… for the reasons above.

  • Reply November 27, 2012

    Rhoda

    I think if lyrics are going to affect our kids it will be because they resonate with them. Not much chance of that in a happy loving home.

    If concerned you could always bring up the subject casually and mine their thoughts.

  • Reply November 27, 2012

    Lucy Clark

    Ah yes, the daily celebration of narcissism. If my 16 year old daughter had spent as much time studying as she had in front of the mirror she’d be a Rhodes scholar by now. I have to keep reminding myself that so much biology is at play here – all those hormones racing around their bodies that, at the most base level, are saying to them: find a mate! Insecurity seems hardwired and it’s terrible girls experience it about their physical appearance: yes popular culture is so much to blame. But like so much with parenting, we have to keep banging our heads against the wall and keep saying the right things. You are more than your looks, and beauty is not a skill!

    • Reply November 27, 2012

      Wendy Harmer

      Hah! Yes that’s why I’m saying too, Lucy. The old stuff – beauty is as beauty does. Wx

  • Reply November 27, 2012

    TMS

    I know what you mean Wendy, about women not growing out of it. Recently sat with a group of 30 & 40 something mothers and conversation was all about dieting. I should have spoken up, but found myself thinking, Really are we still having this conversation? When do we get to just like ourselves? And sadly, though I understand the reasoning behind it, all the focus on childhood obesity only seems to make kids more aware of body image at an earlier age!

  • Reply November 27, 2012

    Dannielle Miller

    Wendy really interesting post that raises many vital discussion points.

    One Direction often tap into teen girl angst ( perhaps this is why their very devoted fans feel that the lads “get” them). Their debut hit, “That’s What Makes You Beautiful” sung to a generation of girls exhausted from playing the compare and despair game our girls so often get sucked into playing…”You’re insecure? Don’t know what for…”.

    I think the fact these songs resonate with so many teen girls (and they do) highlights how all-pervasive self esteem issues and body image angst are. And of course we know this through far more objective sources. The research clearly shows body image is a huge issue for this generation of girls. Interestingly, body image angst is on the rise in young men as well. In fact, there has been a marked increase in eating disorders (particularly anorexia) in our sons.

    You’re right in pointing out that the basic premise in these songs is that the insecure girl will have her self-doubt solved solely through his adoration; which of course is nonsense. But songs aimed at teens are often just a form of escapism really and I can empathise with girls wanting to have the handsome 1D boys tell them they love ‘em, quirks and all. *insert heavy sigh*. A nice alternative too to the many other song lyrics that refer to women as bitches / ho’s / needing to blow some guy’s “whistle”.

    The real answer to solving the self-esteem crises limiting our girls is far more complex. It involves providing them with the media literacy skills they need to deconstruct ridiculous media message they are bombarded with about beauty that are limiting and artificial / unobtainable, providing them with positive body-loving female role models ( girls can’t be what they can’t see), getting them to focus on themselves as a SOMEBODY not just a body (goes to your point about getting them out in the real world and away from magazines and mirrors)….

    I am back from working with 175 incredible teen girls today at Monte Sant Angelo College here in Sydney today. Believe me, if we engage girls in the right way, rather than patronising or policing them, we can help them to shift their gaze outwards and get them questioning culture, rather than themselves and each other.

    When equipped with the right skills, and emotionally engaged in the right way, girls DO see that they are large and contain multitudes…and that all their “Little Things” make them unique and valuable.

  • Reply November 27, 2012

    Cathie G

    I know where you’re at Wendy.We laughed just yesterday that it took til 12 noon before our 13 yo girl mentioned Harry Styles’ name – usually he gets a mention as we are all eating breakfast…. I have taken the 1D obsession with a grain of salt. I was just the same 35 years ago with Daryl Braithwaite and Sherbet. I have actually revelled in my daughter’s squeals and delights as it seems to me to be a healthy ‘rite of passage’. What is interesting this time round is that she gets up to the minute info/tweets on 1D’s movements 24/7 eg. who’s dating who (she’s currently devestated with rumours of Harry hooking up with Taylor Swift) , the newest tattoo (she’s disgusted), attending the latest award show, radio interview etc. Fortunately for us, these and the latest single, video, clip on youtube are all conversation pieces and chances for us to offer an opinion – to her or not to her liking …. I certainly didn’t do this with my mum and dad re Sherbet’s

  • Reply November 27, 2012

    Cathie G

    ….. Another Night on The Road tour antics or Dragon’s Are You Old Enough lyrics (another big fave of my mine at the time.

    • Reply November 28, 2012

      Tony W

      @ Cathie G – “Fortunately for us, these and the latest single, video, clip on youtube are all conversation pieces and chances for us to offer an opinion – to her or not to her liking …. I certainly didn’t do this with my mum and dad re Sherbet’s”

      Do you think that was a bad thing Cathie? Would you prefer to have discussed your teenage crush on Daryl Braithwaite with your folks in depth? Or do think there’s some benefit in kids keeping part of their life separate, esp. fantasy romance stuff. Just curious, that’s all. You seem to have turned out pretty well, as do all women here. Just wondering why you’d depart so radically from your own experience of childhood.

  • Reply November 27, 2012

    gogirl

    At Seventeen by Janis Ian is one that springs to mind

    • Reply November 27, 2012

      Wendy Harmer

      Yes, that’s right.I HAD forgotten that one.That was bloody depressing. At 17? She was a bit of a slow learner, I always thought.

      • Reply November 27, 2012

        gogirl

        LOL, I always thought the same

  • Reply November 27, 2012

    Jules

    Give me a PINK! song anyday! I wish the same for my daughter.

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    Tony W

    “Hah! Yes that’s why I’m saying too, Lucy. The old stuff – beauty is as beauty does. Wx”

    Haha, reminds me of another old saying Wendy – “Beauty is skin deep but ugliness goes to the bone!”

    Never heard One Direction but they’re obviously just another vapid insipid boyband. No wonder kids today are so self-obsessed and superficial when this is the kind of shit they get served up as music. I feel sorry for them, so glad I grew up in the 60s and 70s with the Stones, Doors, Joplin, Dylan, Baez…the list goes on. Nothing vapid or insipid about THEIR lyrics! Meaningful stuff about social consciousness and the human condition, delivered with genuine emotion and set to awesome music which still holds up today.

    These One Direction lyrics purport to assuage young girls insecurites, when in fact they highlight them:

    “You never want to know how much you weigh, You still have to squeeze into your jeans…”

    They don’t say “I love you BECAUSE…”, they say “I love you DESPITE…” Far from instilling confidence and self-worth, they do the opposite. They even present self-love as dependent on having a boyfriend:

    “If I let you know I’m here for you, Maybe you’ll love yourself like I love you”

    It’s obvious why they’re successful with impressionable young girls – they’re pretending to identify with them and show sympathy towards their concerns. It’s a standard pick up technique and the basis of grooming. These lyrics are dripping with insincerity – do you really think these pop stars would choose fat chicks for girlfriends?

    I may be a cynical old bastard but I do know what unconditional love is, and it has nothing to do with stomachs or thighs or dimples at the bottom of your spine. Maybe that’s because I grew up with lyrics like these:

    When you’re weary, feeling small
    When tears are in your eyes,
    I will dry them all
    I’m on your side
    When times get rough
    And friends just can’t be found

    Like a bridge over troubled water
    I will lay me down
    Like a bridge over troubled water
    I will lay me down

    When you’re down and out
    When you’re on the street
    When evening falls so hard
    I will comfort you
    I’ll take your part
    When darkness comes
    And pain is all around

    Like a bridge over troubled water
    I will lay me down
    Like a bridge over troubled water
    I will lay me down

    Sail on silver girl
    Sail on by
    Your time has come to shine
    All your dreams are on their way
    See how they shine
    When you need a friend
    I’m sailing right behind

    Like a bridge over troubled water
    I will ease your mind
    Like a bridge over troubled water
    I will ease your mind

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    DJ

    I recently downloaded the 70’s hit Stay With Me by the Faces and was appalled at the lyrics…denigrating to women is an understatement. Yet as an adolescent I sang along to every word without giving a single thought to their meaning (that’s not to say they didn’t have an effect on my subconscious though). I think I would rather young women are listening to One Direction lyrics.

    • Reply November 28, 2012

      Joni

      “Stay With Me”…what an awful song, I just googled the lyrics.

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    Amber J

    Mmmmm I feel very torn about this.

    I grew up with very high self esteem about my own body. I’m not sure exactly what my mum did to protect it, but i’m forever grateful.

    And while I sort of thing the One Direction song is charming, I am also like think, screw you, how dare you focus on my stomach and thighs, I quite like them, and I’m particularly fond of those two little dimples on my back.

    Don’t make me think I should feel bad about something I don’t actually feel bad about.

    I love my yoga teacher but sometimes she’ll say things like ‘let’s be nice to our bodies today. let’s treat them with respect. let’s feel good about them, rather than criticising them every minute” and i just think “um… I wasn’t criticising it? I’m pretty happy with it.”

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    Joni

    As a mum to 4 kids, 2 teens, one tween and 1 pre schooler, I see the constant comparison thing going on because Instagram and Facebook make it a way of life.

    The number of teen girls putting up “pouty poses” on Facebook and inviting “likes’ and “comments” is worrying. I was a child in the 70s and 80s and we were compared and bullied about our looks and body mainly at school but then at home we could switch off for a while. Now the pressure is 24 hours a day.

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    Peter Wicks

    You’ve hit a sore point Wendy.
    I’ve always been a big fan of The Beatles, but for years I though I was The Walrus
    After years of therapy, I have discovered that I am in fact the Eggman.
    All I have to say on the matter now is Goo Goo Gajooo

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    Elizabeth

    I love Queen’s ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’ and my grandaughters know the chorus very well!

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    susan

    this song just doesn’t sound right coming from such young mouths, what do they know?

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    ro.watson

    I found this article confronting. I am a sucker for the idea of unconditional love. But now I am confused~ what does it do to a person to love(in challenge or acceptance) their ” flaws” or perceived self-doubting, self-loathing flaws? Gosh.

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    ro.watson

    Anyway you would have to do yoga or have a lot of mirrors to know you had two dimples at the bottom of your back.

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    Tony W

    “this song just doesn’t sound right coming from such young mouths, what do they know?”

    Well they do know one thing susan – how to cash in on young girls insecurities about their bodies.

    Yes, there have been songs which are denigrating to women, but there’s a difference between denigrating adult women and manipulating young girls insecurities. I’m pretty sure even Rod Stewart wouldn’t cross that line.

    Stay With Me was definitely off, but Fat Bottomed Girls is complimentary and humorous, a bit like the movie “The Italian Job” where Benny Hill has a penchant for fat bottomed women. However my personal favourite of the genre is Joe Tex – “Aint Gonna Bump No More With No Big Fat Woman”.

    In the interests of gender equity I tried to think of songs about fat men, but all I can recall is one about skinny men, Freddie Blassie – “Pencil Neck Geek”. A couple of verses:

    Pencil neck geek, grit eatin’ freak,
    scum suckin’, pea head with a lousy physique.
    He’s a one man, no gut, losing streak.
    Nothin’ but a pencil neck geek.

    Its gonna be real hard times for all of these
    grit eatin’,
    scum suckin’,
    boot lickin’,
    drop kickin’,
    gut grindin’,
    nail bitin’,
    glue sniffin’,
    scab pickin’,
    butt scratchin’,
    egg hatchin’,
    sleezy,
    smelly,
    pepper bellied,
    dirty, lousy, rotten, stinkin’, freaks.
    Nothing but a pencil neck geek.

    • Reply November 28, 2012

      gogirl

      Tull’s Fat Man would probably fit the bill

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    ro.watson

    My egg is about ready to hatch and burst onto this scene and say NO. Well on her. Meanwhile, there is stormy weather here.

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    ro.watson

    Tony W, why would anyone lick their boots? I am impressed at your capacity to “mount” an argument and gather what you require to posture~ I have never heard of that song ~now you have brought it to our attention~ I hope we can forget it.

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    ro.watson

    Music makes mood swings for young and older..

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    ro.watson

    I remember reading a Kate Millett book in the seventies~perhaps it was”Sita”? I was very affected by her loving description of her lover’s stretch marks. I took her description to heart. I am now in a quandary around aesthetics and “the loved one” because I do not know how much it is my own feelings and how much I have been influenced by others?

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    ro.watson

    My quandary might be described as sticky love.

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    Tony W

    @ ro.watson – “now you have brought it to our attention~ I hope we can forget it.”

    No way ro, I love Pencil Neck Geek!! You really need to hear it sung, it’s a send up of those Wild West songs we used to hear in old western movies. Same genre as that Johnny Cash song “A Boy Named Sue”, but even more ridiculous and funny. You can listen to it here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNM4atakanI

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    ro.watson

    There is always discovery in aversion Tony W.

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    ro.watson

    Forthright used to be a good version of myself~now it is regrettable and ugly.

  • Reply December 7, 2012

    Jacqueline

    Little Feat!!! “there’s a fat man in the bath tub with the bluoooooohhhhhoooos…I hear ya mowwwwowowowowayyynnn I hear ya moan”….etc

    • Reply December 7, 2012

      Jacqueline

      by the way…how old is Ed Sheeren? And Go Pink! Latest album is fab -lots of pumpin’ Go Grrrrllll lyrics and a couple of beautiful ballads. Way heaps better role model than the passive anaemic little pretties in 1D clips.

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  • Reply January 15, 2014

    Erin

    Not ALL teenagers of today love One Direction and Justine Beaver…. I can’t stand them (this is coming from a 14 year old girl). My favourite artists are Sarah Blasko, Sally Seltmann and Holly Throsby. Their lyrics and musical expression may be a little advanced for my age, but I think that their advanced lyrics is making me have a much more creative and thoughtful outlook on life. I don’t idolise them, I just love their music and their personalities.

  • Reply January 28, 2014

    Man-ipu-late

    One Direction are themselves a manufactured entity – boys who individually appeared on a talent show and were packages by an enterprising opportunity. The boys themselves have very little idea about what they are singing or why – wait 10 years and we will be reading the “tell-all” tales from these young men, who will be in their 30s and washed up – exposing the manipulation that went on behind the scenes. They are enjoying their moment in the sun right now – but do not make the mistake of thinking these young men are cluey about what they are doing or singing. They are working for The Man…..

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