Listen to the new One Direction song, “Little Things” yet? If not, you should (below), because it’s a real head-scratcher. I know this won’t go over well with the particularly fervent One Direction fans out there, but it feels necessary to say. The little boy band that could has just released a new lyric video for the song and, well, those lyrics feel pretty inappropriate for them to sing to their decidedly tween/teen fanbase. The song, written by fellow Brit-darling Ed Shereen has a lovely little melody, but is coupled with lyrics that would feel more at home coming from the mouths of someone over the age of, say, 30 (and even that’s a big ole maybe, in my book). Why? Well, it’s because the lyrics are about how insecure their objects of affection are, how they don’t love themselves, and how they are also maybe too chubby or something. Don’t believe me?
“I know you’ve never loved the crinkles by your eyes / you’ve never loved your stomach or your thighs / the dimples in your back at the bottom of your spine / but I love them endlessly.” Seems harmless enough at the outset — if a little bit strange. But then it gets worse. Choice lyrics include, “You still have to squeeze into your jeans / but you’re perfect to me,” and the real humdinger, “You’ll never love yourself half as much as I love you.” Take a listen and hear for yourself:
Uncomfortable yet? Yeah, thought so. Now, this sort of lyrical assault might be more well-received from an older singer, directed at an older fanbase… maybe. Perhaps older women who may be a bit more secure with their body image, or at least understand what their feelings about their own bodies mean (though some may disagree on that front, too) would be able to respond to this song more appropriately. But for One Direction to sing this song? A band whose fans are between the ages of fetus and teen? Girls in middle school love this band. The same girls who are often stepping into full-blown body image issues around that age.
And while many One Direction fans will swear their intentions with this song were noble, it doesn’t take away from the fact that the message isn’t quite as on-mark as it could be. Here, lyrics are masquerading as comfort, when really they subliminally feed off of girls’ insecurity and focus almost exclusively on their bodies. It is all about reminding girls how insecure they are, and they should feel so lucky that a guy has decided to love her in spite of her issues. You know, rather than loving her as a whole human person who is more than just her insecurities about her body image. The song not once mentions anything about these girls’ minds or other attributes that could be seen as positive beyond physical desirability, but instead only focuses on what girls feel they should hate about themselves. Isn’t talking only about the make-up of girls’ body parts, um, objectifying? And don’t we think these girls are a little bit young to have their bodies used as a tactic? Especially considering it happens so prevalently already, a seemingly feel-good love song is not be the place for more of this.
And that’s not even the most troubling part. To me, the most unsettling lyric is “You’ll never love yourself half as much as I love you.” This feels like the lyrical cherry on top of a super-misguided sundae. Telling a young girl that she’ll never love herself enough is just downright wrong. Young girls’ self-worth is staggeringly low, and made lower seemingly every day — a lot of that thanks to society telling them they shouldn’t love themselves because they’re inadequate in one way or another. So to say it outright feels dangerous. To accept that girls’ self-worth will never be where it should be is not the message young girls need. Because, let’s face it: we should be championing these girls to love themselves, with or without the romantic desires of another person. Self-worth and love shouldn’t hinge on acceptance from other people. Nor should it hinge on the love of another person — even if he is in a super-famous boy band. These girls should be empowered to be who they are and to hope to be comfortable with themselves. That is what should be lauded.
In the end, many fans will probably disagree, but the discussion feels necessary. One Direction, is this really the message you want to send out to young girls who fall over your every word? Telling them they’ll never love themselves feels like a pile-on the younger crowd just doesn’t need.
Do you think the One Direction lyrics are dangerous to young girls? Are we overreacting? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
[Photo Credit: WENN]
Follow Alicia on Twitter @alicialutes
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