the x-factor is a bit of a ritual in my household. we gather as a family, we order a takeaway from tjs over the road and we even vote for our favourites. in 2010, one direction were my favourite, and still are.
when a curly-haired little cherub and part-time baker walked onto the x-factor stage sporting a grey cardigan and scarf, he certainly captured my heart. singing stevie wonder’s ‘isn’t she lovely’, harry styles didn’t just gain my affection, but the attention of many across the nation. as harry soon became part of one direction (thanks nicole scherzinger for the suggestion), something about five boys energetically singing and dancing to ‘kids in america’ just sent me on a slippery slope into the one direction fandom.
bizarrely, me liking one direction seemed to be frowned upon and uncool to many. i’m sure others experienced (and have for the past 7 years) scrutiny for liking and enjoying their music, weird. it’s not just the music we pioneered for as fans though, it’s the personalities and friendship of five boys living their dream, it’s the community formed with others over a shared understanding, and the excitement of possibly seeing your idols do their thing live. but, this seemed to always be dampened by online trolls and remarks by peers at school. to me, it’s pretty strange why liking music seems to put a target for verbal insults on your back. a target which has continued to be hit for years and years.
i’ve anticipated and attended each of the one direction tours, i’ve joined in on fandom hashtags, my twitter bio has always been a lyric of their songs and i’ve always admitted to being a fan, despite the comments i know would follow. openly showing that i am a fan with a particular soft spot for harry has been a bit of a battle, with people not understanding that despite them becoming a shit-hot boyband, performing to hundreds of thousands of people, they bought me happiness.
over the past months, as i scroll down my social feeds, there’s now a lot of love for harry styles and his debut solo album. there’s love from people who would snigger at the name ‘one direction’ and vow to themselves that they were ‘cooler’ than chart music made by five ‘baby-faced’ boys. but recently, there’s pictures with heart eye emojis and ecstatic comments about his vocal performance – things that i and others had always preached. now i’m not complaining because to me, harry (and niall and liam and louis and zayn) deserve credit for their artistry. i am however, questioning why it was ever uncool to like harry and the boys in the first place and why it was acceptable to be torn down by the music on your ipod.
i’d eagerly await interviews, revolve my day around video releases and play their music whenever i needed a bit of escape from my teenage dramas of gcses and sibling rivalries, that’s what you’re supposed to do as a fan. in hindsight, it’s no different to liking a sports team: fans wear their teams kit, they tweet the match, they show support by chanting and clapping, and they set their alarms to buy tickets to watch their idols play.
Who cares if you like or follow them, just let people like what they like and let them do it with pride.
Words by Yasemin Gumushan