“Tastes like strawberries on a summer evenin’. And it sounds just like a song. I want more berries and that summer feelin’. It’s so wonderful and warm,” Harry Styles crooned in the opening lines to his cheeky new music video for his new single Watermelon Sugar. The video, “dedicated to touching” came out on May 18th and the internet practically exploded. To say that people everywhere lost their minds would be a massive understatement. It might be because the video is like a picturesque summertime orgy featuring lots of dripping fruit.
The song quickly climbed to one of the top 10 trending videos on YouTube. It currently has 1.8 million likes with over 20 million views. With its fun and eye-catching costume design, scenic backdrop, and sensual messaging, it’s sure to be the pop anthem of the summer, despite its early release.
Believe me, I have never been more jealous of a watermelon slice in my life than I was while watching the video. Harry Styles knew exactly what he was doing releasing this extra sexual video now. Everyone has been particularly touch-starved in the past few months due to social distancing and the COVID-19 quarantine. Therefore, horny people everywhere have been eating the video up.
There’s a lot to unpack about the symbolism, meaning, and impact of both the video and the song itself. When Watermelon Sugar was first released on the Fine Line album, Styles played coy about the lyrics, and when asked what the meaning behind the words was, he even said “I don’t know”. For months, he left the song open to audience interpretation and speculation.
However, in the recent music video, he completely sheds any discomfort about the song’s meaning. What Styles used to avoid is now overtly spelled out for us. Watermelon Sugar is about oral sex. If we want to get more specific, it’s about eating out a woman and enjoying it.
The song is powerful in both asserting Styles’ sexual autonomy and growth as an artist, as well as empowering female bodies and genitalia.
Cunnilingus remains a notoriously taboo subject. More women have reported giving but not receiving oral sex from men. Women also commonly feel embarrassed of their own bodies, especially their private parts. I know plenty of females, myself included, who have shied away from letting someone go down on them because they were worried that their vaginas weren’t groomed perfectly, looked strange, or smelled weird. A lot of this has to do with societal stigma. The standards for female physical beauty and sex appeal are impossibly high.
Watching Watermelon Sugar made me feel extra validated and secure in my body. I also appreciated greatly the diversity of the models who appear in the video; many women could see themselves reflected in the faces included and unfortunately that is not often the case or something I take for granted.
The vagina is the absolute protagonist of the video, both through lyrics and the suggestive touching and eating of fruit. Styles dives into watermelon and strawberries, eating them with vigor and abandon. Through the video, Styles tells us that women’s bodies are beautiful and we should celebrate and appreciate them. This message is powerful for females everywhere who have ever felt insecure about their genitalia. The song creates the opportunity for female self-love and compassion. It reminded me of Janelle Monae’s Pynk in a sense.
Another notable tidbit about the music video has to do with consent. According to the models in the Watermelon Sugar video shoot, Styles always asked people individually if he could touch them before doing so. They even jokingly called him “Consent King” during the shoot. This respectful behavior toward women only furthers Styles’ message and the power of the song.
Harry Styles has come a long way from his boyish One Direction years and even from his debut solo album. The Fine Line album reveals a softer and more adventurous Harry Styles who is comfortable in his sexuality and gender expression. In the video he wears a variety of gender-bending clothing and accessory items from pink nail polish to croquet shirts and cropped tops. All the while, he is surrounded by beautiful and carefree women. Watermelon Sugar’s video only furthers Styles’ status as an androgynous sex icon.