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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Harry Styles: What a world-famous rockstar should look like in 2020

“Treat People With Kindness” is not just a song off of Styles’ latest album, an ode about how he lives his life, navigates fame 

Harry Styles released the music video for his latest single “Watermelon Sugar” on May 18. The opening title card explained that the video was “dedicated to touching,” then follows Styles at a wonderfully vintage beach party, eating and fondling a watermelon. 

“The ‘Watermelon Sugar’ video is an ode to the summer we deserved,” writes Zoe Haylock in Vulture

Directed by Bradley & Pablo, the video features a diverse cast of female models who, despite the sexual nature of the song, are not objectified or overtly sexualized in the video. 

Styles, however, is earning even more praise for his behavior off screen. Models Aalany McMahan and Ephrata, who were featured in the video, spoke of how respectful Styles was on set. 

“The people were telling him to touch my hair and play with it, and he was like: ‘Wait, wait, wait, pause — can I even touch your hair? Is that even OK?'” Ephrata said. 

“He was very huge on the consent,” McMahan said. 

Fans of Styles know that this behavior is simply the norm for the rockstar. There have been several times where co-workers of other stars have complimented Styles’ charming and mannerful ways. From a past One Direction bodyguard speaking of Harry’s quiet sensitivity to legendary star Stevie Nicks’ endless praise of him, it seems that Styles leaves a mark on everyone around him. 

Styles first rose to fame on the “X Factor” as a member of the band One Direction. Only 16 at the time, Styles’ charm led him to become increasingly popular with the band’s predominantly female fans. 

This also, however, caused the media to perceive Styles as the womanizer of the band, a label which stuck with him throughout his career. Styles has been fighting this image from his early years in the band. When interviewers would ask questions about the women he had been with, Styles was frequently shown refusing to answer or asking that they not objectify women through those types of questions. Despite being linked with several high-profile celebrities, Styles refuses to give in to the rumors or speak ill of any relationship gone south. 

“He has managed to grow up in public with all his boyish enthusiasm intact, not to mention his manners,” writes Rob Scheffield in Rolling Stone. “He’s dated a string of high-profile women — but he never gets caught uttering any of their names in public, much less shading any of them.”

As a solo artist, Styles has only become more outspoken about his true self and pushed even harder to be seen as anything other than a sex symbol. His music as a solo artist, though sometimes about sex, seems to elude any of the labels that followed Styles in the band. He has songs that explore sexual fluidity and his persona as a whole have moved towards denying gender roles completely. 

This attitude is also the reason why Styles has become such a style icon in recent years. After years of being told what to wear in the band, Styles’ flair for the extravagant began to come out. He has also been known for bending gender norms when it comes to fashion. 

“What women wear. What men wear. For me it’s not a question of that,” Styles said in an interview with The Guardian. “If I see a nice shirt and get told, ‘But it’s for ladies.’ I think: ‘Okaaaay? Doesn’t make me want to wear it less though.’ I think the moment you feel more comfortable with yourself, it all becomes a lot easier.”

Styles’ unapologetic individuality has extended its reach to his fans as well. His concerts, especially, seem to have become a safe place for people to be themselves — even his merchandise encourages fans to “treat people with kindness.” He frequently holds up Pride flags and even helped a fan come out to her mom in the middle of a concert

“If you are black, if you are white, if you are gay, if you are straight, if you are transgender — whoever you are, whoever you want to be, I support you. I love every single one of you,” Styles said at one of his first solo shows. 

Styles is easily one of the biggest stars of our time. He has earned the respect of legends like Stevie Nicks and Mick Jagger, and he seems to be on his way to becoming a bonafide rockstar. From selling out stadiums for his solo tours to starring in a high-profile movie, it would be easy for him to forget about his roots and where his career first began. However, that simply isn’t who he is. 

Even years after the band’s hiatus, Styles refuses to say a single bad thing about One Direction. Though admitting that the tireless work and growing up in the limelight was difficult, Styles is proud of his time in the band and eternally grateful for the fans who got him to where he is now. 

“I just think it’s a little naive to just write off younger female fans, in particular, in the way people do,” Styles said in an interview with The New York Times. “Like I’ve said, young girls were massive fans of the Beatles. It’s crazy to think they’re not intelligent.”

Written by: Alyssa Ilsley — arts@theaggie.org


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