You may or may not have heard of the British boy band One Direction, and you may or may not be familiar with their hit pop song “What Makes You Beautiful.” What follows is an in-depth analysis of that song, both musically and lyrically.
No. Scratch that. I’m too out of practice for a musical analysis and too lazy for an in-depth analysis of any kind. This will be a diatribe. A rant. Yes, I know the song has been out for a while now, but it's been stuck in my head for about a week now, so this is fresh in my mind.
I’m going to start out by saying that, hands down, this is my favorite song of the last few years. I LOVE this song. It’s catchy and adorable and super easy to sing along to. It’s fantastic. If you like the boy-band pop music genre, then this song is awesome. I want to be the girl that they’re singing about!
But today I thought about it. Do I really want to be that girl?
The very first line states, “You’re insecure.” Wait a minute. I don’t want to be that girl! I hate when I feel insecure. It’s not fun. And even though the rest of the verse refutes the girl’s perceived need for insecurity, she still feels insecure. She’s shy. She doesn’t notice when people look at her, when they notice her. Heck, some days I am this girl! But not most days. I generally feel pretty good about myself lately. And I don’t know if I want to go back to being a shy girl.
But here’s what gets me with this song… the more I listen to it, the more I realize how creepy these guys are. They’re watching you. They’re clearly attracted to you (they do get “overwhelmed” over a mere hair flip, after all). They pay enough attention to know that you don’t wear any makeup.
Listen, Liam, Harry, et. al., you’re doing it wrong. You want to be with this girl? You want her to feel as beautiful as she supposedly is? Then you need to stop stalking her and actually talk to her. She’s terrified of you. She’s looking at the ground because she’s trying to avoid eye contact. She knows very well that everyone looks at her when she walks in the room, and she hates it. Attention? That’s bad. So be careful when you approach her. Please.
All kidding aside, though, initially I loved the message in this song. It’s positive, right? You’re shy and quiet, and you’re beautiful – even if you don’t see that in yourself. But you know what? It’s not really very positive at all. This isn’t the message we need to be sending to girls. They don’t need to be encouraged to be shy and meek and quiet. I’ve struggled with dating through half my life, and I sought out advice from everywhere I could find it. And you know what was the number 1 thing I saw that was supposed to help you? Confidence. Feeling good about yourself, having good self-esteem and a high self-worth – these are the things that actually make you beautiful. Of course, that seems to have gotten me nowhere with the men-folk, but even so – I think I just haven’t met the right guys yet.
It’s disappointing to realize this about a song that I’ve loved so much. But what can I do? It’s stuck in my head and it won’t go away. I’ll continue to enjoy the song. I can’t help it. But I have thought about it, and I wanted to share that with everyone. And now I have.