In case you missed all the other times I’ve banged on about it, I am doing something very cool this weekend. My pitch is pretty much learned off. I’ve done my homework on the agent concerned. I have my shiny business cards ready to be handed out. I have a new writing pad, and a pen which works.
I am ready.
Well – I am now, at least. Yesterday was an entirely different story.
I woke up yesterday morning and realised – rather abruptly – that my hair was looking sort of meh. (Bear with me, here: I’m not going to bore you with the chronicles of my follicles, or anything like that; there is a point to my talking about my coiffure, I swear.) It had been a while since I’d had it cut, and my poor old wig had grown slightly too long to be called a bob while still being slightly too short to be called anything else. Also, it was refusing to sit nicely because it’s a recalcitrant brat with a devilish kink. It looked about as professional as someone wearing a bird’s nest (complete with bird) atop their head.
So, something clearly had to be done, and stat.
I walked into my local salon hoping they had a slot, and they graciously agreed to squeeze me in last thing just before they closed for the day. When the actual hair-cutting began, I did my best to condense my panic down inside my chest (I’m slightly phobic of hairdressers; whether it’s the feeling of scissors so close to my flesh or just the fact that I hate having my hair washed by other people, I’m not sure), and let the stylist clip away.
They had the radio in the salon tuned to a station that plays the sort of soulless, thunk-thunk-thunk music that I normally can’t bear. At one stage, even the stylist rolled her eyes and muttered, ‘kids’ll listen to any old nonsense these days, won’t they?’ and we proceeded to have a good old chat about the dearth of decent music in our brave new world and how ‘things were better in our day’, and all that other nonsense that people of a certain age are prone to.
Then, a warbly love song started to play, and the following lyrics caught my ear:
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…
‘What on earth is that?’ I think I may have said, appalled. ‘One Direction,’ smiled the stylist, chopping away. ‘You can’t get away from them these days.’ We shared a grin. I continued to listen to the song, hating the way it sounded and everything about it and lamenting, internally, its focus on female physical attributes – and then I realised I was being completely unfair.
The song was about a girl hating her physical appearance – her thighs, her stomach, her back, her weight, and so on – and a young man telling her that those things don’t matter; he loves her not in spite of these things, but because of them. These are the things which make her special and unique to him.
As I was having my hair blow-dried (it’s fabulous, by the way – totally professional and utterly competent-looking, so let’s hope that rubs off on the brain beneath it), I was thinking about this. One Direction is probably the most influential band in the world right now for a particular demographic, and whether that makes you weep or not, it’s still a fact. So, if these five young men singing about how a girl’s physical ‘imperfections’ (gah, how I hate that term! As if a living, breathing body can be in any way imperfect) make her beautiful and unique and lovable can have any impact at all on the millions of teenagers who listen to, and idolise, them, surely it’s a good thing. Isn’t it? They might be doing a disservice to music – at least, to a person raised on The Rolling Stones, Neil Young and ZZ Top, they are – but they may be doing something very positive for girls’ self esteem.
And, on balance, isn’t that more important? Yes, of course it is.
But I wish it was as easy as this. I wish one song by one band (no matter how influential) could undo the years of conditioning and pressure that bring some, if not most, young girls to the brink of despair every time they look in a mirror. I really do.
However, I will admit that I was wrong to judge One Direction’s song so harshly and thoughtlessly; I have well and truly eaten my words. I applaud them for trying to put forth an image of femininity which is counter to that shoved in girls’ faces from magazines and TV and movies and hip-hop, and even though the sound of their music makes my ears metaphorically bleed, I hope their message finds a wide, and receptive, audience.
I really can’t believe I’m writing this. Vive la change, mes amis. Vive la change.