On Harry Edward Styles:

Guys! Another guest writer! Before she takes the stage and introduces herself, I wanted to beat her to it. I have been a fan of El’s writing – and Ellie in general, since the days we were not cool and took pictures of our summer stack of library books. Remind me to resurrect those sometime. We’ve always shared an appreciation for music, books, TV, movies, celebs – basically everything this blog stands for. I’ve been trying to get her to write a book since the beginning of time. Mark my words, one day she will. And it will be the best YA novel you ever did read. I hope you guys love this as much as I did. I smiled through the whole thing. Read it and then leave a comment so she knows that you loved it too! P.S. Ellie is a grammar freak. It’s effortless for her. She knows all. So her writing is way better than mine. What I’m trying to say is…don’t get used to it. I don’t change for nobody. 
Without further ado:

Hi, I’m Ellie – Minneapolitan and BFF of this blog’s mother since the third grade. At only (almost) 26, I don’t consider myself the authority on anything (except maybe like Gilmore Girls). However, I do know a thing or two about Harry Styles and his fans, ’cause I am one!
(Disclaimer: Yeah, I know this has been said before. But isn’t that the case with everything? Oh well. Here’s my take.)
Let’s start at the beginning. I became a fan of One Direction somewhere between the release of their first and second albums (2011ish). It started out as kind of a joke between friends, and evolved into:
  • watching videos on YouTube (this, thisthis, or this)
  • sitting through a 7.5-hour livestream (aka 1D Day)
  • making sure I owned all albums when they came out
  • going to watch their documentary and live concert experience in theaters
  • starting a 1D “blog” on tumblr (like, who am i even?)
  • buying tickets (+ flight) to see them perform in both Minneapolis and Chicago during their On The Road Again tour in 2015
  • etc.
  • you get the point
  • I’m a fan.
Then in 2015 (after releasing FIVE albums and going on tour every year for FIVE years), 1D announced their “hiatus” (as I’m sure you all know). I won’t lie, I was bummed. But I’m human and I understand. I get stressed after like three hours of my very uneventful life and their lives had been planned and managed for 5+ years. It was time for a break.
Which brings me to today and to my point. I’m about to get on a plane to Phoenix, AZ solely to see Harry Styles perform live this weekend. And I hate flying. I said I was a fan, right?
When he announced he’d be playing in thirteen North American cities this past spring (none being Minneapolis), I knew I’d have to find a way to see him. Luckily, I have a couple friends that are willing to shell out the $$ to come with me.
So. Since I bought the tickets in May, I’ve found myself discussing my upcoming trip with different people. Friends, coworkers, family members, boyfriend, boyfriend’s family, etc. My side of the conversation usually includes a, “Oh, I’ll be in Phoenix for a quick weekend trip!” while I hope the other party doesn’t pry about why I’m going. Which, of course, they always do. The rest of the conversation goes something like this:
Them: That’s fun! Who are you going with?
Me: Just a couple of my girlfriends.
Them: Wonderful, what for?
Me: To see a concert.
Them: Oh, who?
Me (mumbling): Harry Styles
Them (now an owl): Who?
Me: Harry Styles, he was a member of One Direction.
Them (laughing at me): Seriously?
And then I try to persuade them that my choice to fly to Phoenix or to even see him anywhere is completely valid, that he’s a serious musician, that he shouldn’t be judged by being part of a boy band, etc. Which leads me to my question: Why do I do that?
I am clearly a fan. I loved One Direction and I love that I now get to go see them perform individually. So… What’s the problem?
Why do I feel the need to validate Harry Styles as an artist to other people?
Why am I always trying to hide that I’m a fan of him? Or of One Direction?
Why do find myself feeling like I have to justify liking him/them at my age?
Why do people feel like they’re superior because they don’t like him?

(Ok, maybe people don’t feel that way. But I feel like they feel that way.)

It’s long been a thing to discount something in pop culture because young women like it. But why shouldn’t they (we) be allowed to be passionate about something or someone? And why should something in pop culture be seen as immature, inferior, or less culturally valuable because teen girls enjoy it? Do we really think that little of teenagers’ opinions (specifically female ones)?
I could sit here and argue why Harry Styles and One Direction are musically worth your time. I have before. But should I have to? If you like an artist with a more adult/male audience, it’s likely you won’t have to sit there and defend your decision to spend money to see them – whether their music is “good” or not, right? Ugh. Anyway.
He basically summed up everything I’m trying to say in a recent interview with Rolling Stone.
“Who’s to say that young girls…have worse musical taste than a 30-year-old hipster guy? That’s not up to you to say.”
What I’m trying to say is, before we judge or look down on young women for liking a boy from a boy band, let’s remember that this particular predominately young adult, female fandom has chosen to like an artist that:
  1. Expresses himself by dressing however he likes, regardless of gender/societal norms.
  2. Watches romantic comedies without shame.
  3. Is also an amazing actor that wasn’t cast just because of his fame? (Did you guys see Dunkirk? Omg.)
  4. Drapes a rainbow flag around his shoulders during shows, promoting an inclusive, safe environment.
  5. Frequently uses gender neutral pronouns in his lyrics – inclusivity X2.
  6. Produced one of the best Carpool Karaoke videos of all time (watch or watch again).
  7. Recognizes that his audience of screaming girls are authentic and credible.
There are worse things these girls could be doing. There are worse people they could be passionate about.
This week at a show in Dallas he said, “I’ve thought about this so much and I could not feel more honored to stand and perform in front of a group of strong women every night and sing for you. Thank you so much for letting me do this.”
You guys, I’m so excited to get to see him this weekend and I’m going to stop feeling ashamed for liking him. Cool. If you like him and find yourself feeling the same, know that you’re not alone and that your opinions are valid AF.
Thanks for letting me guest, Jaim. I’ll be back. If you let me.
Photo Credit: Another Man magazine
Photo Credit: worldstyles.tumblr.com

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