I admit it, I really like the song “What Makes You Beautiful” by boy band One Direction. This past summer when it would come on the radio, I would turn up the volume and sing out loud. I never really listened to all the words but the upbeat music always put me in a good mood. My 12 year-old niece is completely obsessed with this band and I can totally understand why.
Recently, I was in the car and heard the beginning of a melody that I liked but didn’t recognize. I looked at the radio banner and saw that it was another song by One Direction, this one titled “Little Things.”
As catchy as I found the tune, as I listened to the lyrics, I got upset. The basic theme of the song is that there are all these “little things” that the boy finds endearing about the girl but she finds them embarrassing. Some of the things were silly and benign, such as not liking the sound of her voice on tape and how she drinks tea before bed.
But other lines talked about how the girl feels badly about her “flaws.” Specifically, “you never loved the crinkles by your eyes” and “you’ve never loved your stomach or her thighs” and how she has to “squeeze into her jean.” But the boy singing assures the girl that he will love her and her flaws “endlessly.”
While I think the idea is that those things are unimportant and that the girl shouldn’t worry about them, the fact is the boy is listing the attributes that the girl is self conscious of, thereby drawing attention to them. In the song the boy does say he will try not “to let these things slip out of his mouth” but hey, they just did. I think he needs to try A LOT harder.
In the last stanza the boy sings, “You’ll never love yourself half as much as I love you …”
Seriously? It may sound romantic to a young girl that a boy will love her so much, flaws and all. But to an adult woman, it is the logic of the boy that is the real flaw. It worries me to think about young girls like my niece or my daughters listening to songs like this and pining for someone to love them so that they can feel lovable.
Luckily, not everymale band shares this sentiment. In the Lighthouse song, “Whatever it Takes” there is a line that says, “You gotta love yourself if you can ever love me.”
Not surprisingly, the lead singer of Lighthouse is 32 and married while the members of One Direction are all single and barely 20. Adults understand that to truly, maturely love someone, you need to love yourself first.
I wholeheartedly agree that many girls (and woman) don’t love all the “little things” about themselves but they should. Having someone else love them is wishing for a glass slipper or a magic wand to make things right
Self-esteem comes from embracing all the “little things” that make you, you. But that can be especially hard when you are a teenager. Lyrics like these from adorable boys in a band make it even harder.