So, Louis was introduced to One Direction a while ago and he has taken to them with gusto. We each have turns listening to music on the boom, and his choice is 9 times out of ten, One Direction. So, I have become deeply intimate with their lyrics in a way that no self-respecting 38 year old woman should be. Do it for the love of… children and their self-expression.
But. One Direction, I have issues with your lyrics. Often. But I’m going to focus on one song here: What Makes You Beautiful. It is such a blatant display of mansplaining that the mansplaining convolutes on itself and becomes totally self-perpetuating. Let me break it down.
You don’t know what for
She’s turning heads when she walks through the door (seriously, dude, she either loves that shit, or she hates it. She’s patently aware of it either way. Take it from someone who knows. Like, any woman.)
She doesn’t need make up, to cover up, being the way that she is is enough (but she needs you to tell her)
Every one else in the room can see it (except her – she’s either so earthy or so spacey that she’s out of touch with this middle ground that clearly only someone as normal as yourself (and I suspect the other men in the room) understands)
She lights up your world like nobody else.
the way that she flicks her hair gets you overwhelmed (“she made you do it” alarm bells ringing)
the way that she stares at the ground makes it plain to see,
She doesn’t know she’s beautiful (Well, aren’t we all so fucking lucky you’re there to tell her?).
If only she could see what you could see (maybe her prescription’s out of date? or part of her beauty is that she doesn’t wear her glasses because they mess with her look? Or maybe all that hair flicking dislodged them and they’re lying in the back seat of an uber somewhere.)
She would understand why you want her so desperately (but, is this really the trouble? does she, in fact, know that she’s beautiful, but not want a bar of you anyway? Is it possible that your whiny attempts at seduction are causing her to whip her head away in the way that a horse whips a fly?) (should you just back the fuck off?)
She doesn’t know she’s beautiful, and THAT’s what makes her beautiful. (So, she’s SO MUCH MORE beautiful because she’s so vapid that you need to explain it to her? So, if, after all your mansplaining that she IS beautiful, she were to come to know this information inherently, would the patina of long term love and deep personal knowledge dull this beauty? Would you then sing this song to another vapid beauty? Are you ONLY attracted to women who need this level of direction? Is this how you came by your name?)
So, to prove it you put it in a song.
But it still eludes you – why is she being so shy? (Have you maybe mistaken shy for aloof, or, gasp: uninterested?)
Everyone else can see it, so why can’t she?
She lights up your world like nobody else.
The flipping of her hair etc, (We get it. I think she probably gets it. I think, you need to back the fuck off and leave her alone because this level of “needing her to see something” is only going to turn into “I thought you’d CHAAAAAAANGE” twenty years and three kids down the track.) (You’re welcome).
So, as you can see, these lyrics aren’t good for my mental health. I have this argument with One Direction EVERY time I hear them. I HATE that young people every where are listening to these lyrics and internalising the mansplaining, being sold on the beauty of naiveté (instead of self knowledge and maturity), and that these young single directional men have (apparently) no social conscience to make the world a better place.
I don’t say any of this to my son. I remember being about 10, sitting in the back of our Mitsubishi station wagon (eighties beige) singing at the top of my lungs, with my sister,
“Like a VIRGIN!
Touched for the very first time!”
And my father going a rather bright shade of red as he drove.
I get it. I get that it’s just lyrics, and it’s just a bit of fun. And the kids don’t know, really, what they’re about.
But, subconscious. And, social conscience. And, my four year old daughter who sings these you don’t know your beautiful lyrics at the top of her lungs. And I want her to be singing “I am fucking beautiful you mother fuckers!!” instead.