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