Celebrities Pop Culture

Are your favorite celebrities breaking gender norms, or just queerbaiting?

As gender roles blur, and sexuality being fluid, there have been allegations around some artists queerbaiting.

Queerbaiting can be defined as the practice of implying non-heterosexual relationships or attraction, to engage or lure in an LGBTQ+ audience without ever explicitly showing such relationships or sexual interactions. The term queerbaiting is used to critique the practice of queerbaiting as an attempt to capitalize on and take advantage of the appearance of LGBTQ+ relationships when there is no actual real LGBTQ+ representation.

Queerbaiting can be seen in TV shows where interactions between two same-sex characters are suggestive of sexual attraction or relationship, but the characters are never in such a relationship. This is especially so when their sexuality is not depicted or mentioned. For instance, Tegan and Michaela, in the TV series How To Get Away With Murder. Yes, Tegan is a mentor to Michaela, but why do we get a closeup when Michaela expresses a devasted face when Tegan chooses to spend time with Annalise. It is subtleties like these that insinuates that there is more to the relationship of the two characters.

[Image description: Tegan and Michaela holding hands] Via ABC
[Image description: Tegan and Michaela holding hands] Via ABC
While the Oxford English Dictionary recently recognized the term in March 2021, it has been used in the cultural lexicon for decades. The use of the term queerbaiting dates to the early 1950s, where it was first referred to as the encouragement of anti-LGBTQIA+ hatred. However, since the 2010s, the use and meaning of the term have changed and, is used in reference to opportunistic acts that aim to appeal to LGBTQIA+ audiences. Although the word “queer” has a history of being used as a slur, it is now used in its reclaimed sense, in the context of LGBTQ+ identities. The word queer is used to describe and refer to things involving people whose gender identity or sexual orientation falls outside the heterosexual mainstream.

In June and towards the month of July 2021, accusations of queerbating surfaced in our pop-cultural discourse at many celebrities, such as Madonna, Billie Eilish and repeat offender Harry Styles. The allegations were that non-queer artists were ‘appropriating’ queer culture and aesthetics in efforts to secure the monetary support and the support of LGBTQ+ fans without having to identify themselves outright openly as queer. This portrayal allows them to brush up alongside the seeming edginess of queer identity, without having to pay the price of openly being themselves in a queerphobic society.

In her music video for the song “Lost Cause”, Billie Eilish is having fun and dancing with other women, in a manner that some see as sexually suggestive. When Eilish shared photos from the video with the message “I love girls”, that was read by some as being indicative of a sexual attraction towards women. Critics, including those of the LGBTQ+ community, defended Eilish and rejected the accusation of queerbaiting and, emphasized that no one should be pressured in having to disclose or clarify their sexuality.


The central principle of the queerbaiting critique is targeted at celebrities who are often on the fence about announcing their sexuality. Comments that have brought on widespread criticisms of queerbaiting range from Harry Styles who draws on a feminine and playful ambiguous display of himself to, the comparison made between Madonna’s 2003 VMA kiss with Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera and, Rapper Lil Nas X’s performance at the BET Awards in June 2021 where he kissed one of his male back-up dancers. Several cultural moments that were seen as groundbreaking at the time are now being scrutinized, as real queer representation is being shown on screen.

Much of the criticism can be taken from a celebrity’s queerness being valid only if said explicitly in public spaces and interviews, or if represented to expectation. Ambiguity is seen as a wrongful act. In Harry Style’s case, this displayed itself as frustration that he portrays himself to be bisexual and continues to be winked at rather than explicitly proving or declaring that he does have sexual relations with other men. In as much as it may be seen as queerbaiting, we cannot accuse him of it without specifying that he is in fact not queer. Our assumptions about his relationship with queerness are only just a leap in the dark.

It can be said that the argument around queerbaiting, recognizes a material injustice and that many queer people are in a fight for their lives and livelihoods. While the sour double standard of praise is given to stars such as Styles, those who originate this aesthetic are faced with daily violence and exclusion. However, forcing one to out themselves as queer can also be seen as violent as it takes away the choice to be candid about their sexuality from the get-go. So maybe some people would like to have their queer cake and eat it too!

Not allowing others to self-determine their sexuality and even doing so vaguely falsely assumes that the queer identity or is rigid, contained and dictated when it is not.

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Celebrities Outfits Fashion Lookbook

10 celebrities that got their Halloween costumes just right this year

Everyone has their favorite holiday, and I am here to argue that your opinion is practically invalid if that holiday is not Halloween. Who doesn’t like snuggling up on their couch to watch horror movies or partying into the late hours of the night dressed up as their favorite superhero? However, if there is one part of Halloween that I am sure everyone appreciates, it’s the celebrity costumes that we mere mortals love to judge, even if we are sitting on our couch in pajamas.

So, without further ado, in no particular order, here are some of the best-dressed celebrities of Halloween 2021.

1. Doja Cat as Miss Bellum

Doja Cat poses while dressed up as Miss Bellum for Halloween
[Image description: Doja Cat poses while dressed up as Miss Bellum for Halloween.] Via @dojacat on instagram
Dressed up as Miss Bellum from the Powerpuff Girls, Doja Cat seems to have stolen the show this Halloween with many on Twitter claiming that she has obliterated all competition. I particularly loved the attention to detail as she incorporated the mayor into her costume.

2. Camila Mendes & Madelaine Petsch as Velma & Daphne

Camila Mendes is dressed as Velma as she poses with Madelaine Petsch who is dressed as Daphne.
[Image description: Camila Mendes is dressed as Velma as she poses with Madelaine Petsch who is dressed as Daphne.] Via @madelame on Instagram
These Riverdale stars managed to perfectly nail their look as Daphne and Velma from Scooby-Doo. It’s an iconic costume that has certainly been overdone throughout the years, but considering how good these two looked we can definitely let the cliché slide.

3. The Weekend as Don Vito Corleone

A closeup shot of The Weekend dressed as Don Vito Corleone.
[Image description: A closeup shot of The Weekend dressed as Don Vito Corleone.] Via @theweeknd on Instagram
Here is one celebrity that always seems to get Halloween right and he certainly did not disappoint this year. Dressed up as Don Vito Corleone from The Godfather, The Weekend was almost unrecognizable, which goes to show just how good his costume really was. I wonder if he made anyone an offer they couldn’t refuse.

4. Katy Perry & Orlando Bloom as a Vaccine Syringe & a Doctor

Katy Perry is dressed as a vaccine syringe while she holds Orlando Bloom's hand who is dressed as a doctor.
[Image description: Katy Perry is dressed as a vaccine syringe while she holds Orlando Bloom’s hand who is dressed as a doctor.] Via @katyperry on Instagram.
The couple seems to have decided that Halloween was the perfect time to spread some vaccine awareness, a cause we can certainly get behind. Not to mention that they even managed to put some humor in there as fans noticed that Orlando Bloom’s name tag reads “Dr DILF”. Supportive of the vaccine and funny? What more could we want?

5. Ariana Grande as Miss Creature

Ariana Grande recreates a classic horror film poster dressed as Miss Creature.
[Image description: Ariana Grande recreates a classic horror film poster dressed as Miss Creature.] Via @arianagrande on Instagram.
The artist tapped into the horror and spooky side of Halloween as she drew inspiration from the classic horror film “Creature from the Black Lagoon”. Not only did she manage to surprise her fans with an elaborate costume but also recreated the movie posters with her own twist.

6. Harry Styles as Dorothy

Harry Styles is sitting on a bale of hay dressed up as Dorothy.
[Image Description: Harry Styles sitting on a bale of hay dressed up as Dorothy.] Via @harrystyles on Instagram
If there is one celebrity who can make every outfit they wear reach iconic status, it is Harry Styles. Often credited with dismissing traditionally masculine fashion for dressing up in his own unique way, his Halloween costume was likely to be up that same alley and he certainly did not disappoint. The artist appeared on stage for his concert dressed up as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz and as usual, managed to break the internet.

7. Hailey Bieber as Britney Spears

A closeup of Hailey Bieber as she rests her face on her hand, she is dressed as Britney Spears.
[Image Description: A closeup of Hailey Bieber as she rests her face on her hand, she is dressed as Britney Spears.] Via @haileybieber on Instagram.
There is nothing I love quite as much as celebrities paying homage to each other, and if there is one person who got it just right this Halloween it was Hailey Bieber. The model blessed us with not one,  but four different Britney Spears costumes, each look a reminder of some of the most iconic outfits in pop culture.

8. Lizzo as Baby Yoda

A closeup of Lizzo as she sips from a straw, she is dressed up as Baby Yoda.
[Image description: A closeup of Lizzo as she sips from a straw, she is dressed up as Baby Yoda.] Via @lizzo on Twitter.
Who doesn’t love Baby Yoda? Of course, when Lizzo dressed up as Baby Yoda there was no way the look wasn’t making this list. You just cannot overlook it when two icons come together like this.

9. Jennie Kim as Medusa

A closeup of Jennie Kim dressed as Medusa with blood stained nails.
[Image description: A closeup of Jennie Kim dressed as Medusa with blood stained nails.] Via @jennierubyjane on Instagram
When this Blackpink singer is not stealing hearts with her voice, she is known for her refined taste in fashion. Her Halloween look has certainly kept that reputation intact as she went for a Medusa that reminds me more of high fashion than a murderous gorgon. With an elegant headpiece and blood-stained nails, Jennie certainly stole the hearts of her fans once again.

10. Cardi B as Morticia Adams

Cardi B poses in between two cars wile dressed up as Morticia Adams.
[Image description: Cardi B poses in between two cars wile dressed up as Morticia Adams.] Via @iamcardib on Twitter
If there is one costume you are likely to see at every Halloween party, it’s someone from the Adam’s Family, and most likely Wednesday or Morticia Adams. However, I have never seen a Morticia who looked as good as Cardi B this year, so of course, she made the list. Everything from the makeup to the outfit is perfect to say the least.

Which celebrity Halloween costume do you like the most? I can’t decide!

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The Internet Standoms Pop Culture

It’s okay to not want your fave to know you exist

The internet is a window that needs some curtains. Or shutters. Or drapes. Anything that creates a semblance of privacy, respect, and boundaries I think would do the internet some good. At the very least, maybe it would end the rampant, unchecked sexualization, fetishization, objectification, and dehumanization of celebrities by fans.

The internet and social media have made it possible for just about anybody to see anything. For those of us who are fans of celebrities (reminder: real-life people), this means that thirst tweet, smutty fic, or fan edit we just posted could very well be seen by the people we stan. And if that doesn’t embarrass us, then we need to have a conversation about fan culture.

In 2021, Twitter and TikTok users are both the poster-children for and the spokespeople against toxic fan culture. I regularly see tweets and videos that explain why people are so judgmental of fans in the first place. For a brief moment a few months ago, there was a trend where people admitted which celebrities they think they could pull on their best day. Now, there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with this trend, mostly because it’s not that serious and it does help humanize celebrities. But there were some people who made it obvious they were not joking. For these fans, this trend was a microcosm of how normal it is to sexualize celebrities.

A few years ago, back in One Direction’s heyday, Larry Stylinson was the pinnacle of toxic fan culture. While shipping real-life people is hotly debated in fandoms, Larry Stylinson shippers are considered radicals in the shipping community.

For most Directioners, even if we thought it would be cute for Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson to date in real life, we left it at that. It was simply a thought we briefly had before moving on with our lives. We did not show up to concerts, meet and greets, and other public events on a mission to make it clear to the boys that we were obsessed with their sexualities and insistent on fetishizing their (probably non-existent) relationship. To this day, toxic Larries think Harry and Louis are trying to communicate to them through coded messages.

In fandoms where fictitious worlds are brought to life through the power of film and television, toxic fans blur the line between fantasy and reality. Star Wars fans’ (and Disney’s) treatment of John Boyega is one example. Shadow and Bone fans’ treatment of Danielle Galligan is another. In both instances, fans attacked the actors online, even going as far as sending death threats.

Basic human respect and decency dictate sending hate and death threats to anyone is horrible. And sending hate and death threats because a Black actor playing a Black character speaks up about how blockbuster series fail to explore the nuances of characters of color or because an actor playing a character isn’t curvy enough is the epitome of toxic fan culture.

Also, toxic fans are almost always involved when celebrities have to take a hiatus for their mental health. Toxic fans are why Little Mix is now a trio, why Chloe Bailey received so much misogynoir-fueled hate online recently, why Natalie Portman left the spotlight for a brief period of time, why Sulli and Hara are no longer with us, and even why Britney Spears experienced such a public breakdown (why do you think paparazzi were following her so closely? Because fans were too interested in her life).

Luckily there are people who are trying to correct this toxic fan behavior.

Lindsay Webster, of Buzzfeed fame, is a well-known Harry Styles superfan. In a recent YouTube video, she admitted she’s never actually wanted to marry Harry. She’s just a really big fan of who he is and what he does. This is very relatable, and it should be the only opinion held by fans. On Twitter and TikTok, I’ve seen fans echo Webster’s opinion with humor, reminding others in their fandoms that they’re probably not going to ever meet their fave, let alone marry them. Other fans have joked about how they cannot believe they stan a human person, while still others have admitted they never want their ult to know they (or their fan page) exist.

No one is saying you can’t stan celebrities. But celebrities should always be treated like people because they are people. Respect their privacy, respect their boundaries, and remember that they don’t owe us anything.

Keep going to concerts, meet and greets, book signings, red carpets, award shows, and more—but if you meet the celebrity you stan, don’t show them your fics, and don’t pull up the webtoon you drew of them in a furry relationship. It’s really not that hard to rein in the hate, creepiness, and judgment in favor of keeping fan culture light, fun, and enjoyable for everyone.

Even if you’re not one of these toxic fans, I still suggest we all get in the habit of logging off of the internet from time to time. There’s more to life than being a fan—and I say this as one. Go out and experience it. Or, at the very least, start small and go outside to touch some grass.

Keep up with entertainment news and trends and follow our brand-new Pop Culture Instagram account

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Outfits Style Fashion Lookbook

Bras are a fashion trend men are finally trying on

If you were to ask your great-grandmother what the purpose of a bra is, she would probably say function. If your great-grandmother were to ask you the same question, you would probably say fashion. This is because Vanity Fair started selling leopard print bras in 1953, which, according to Vogue, “transformed underwear to fashion statements” and forever changed “the way we think about lingerie.”

With each decade, bras have moved closer to the surface of wearable fashion. Rather than underwear, bras have become outerwear. While our parents’ generation most likely views bras as invisible garments worn underneath clothes, millennials and Generation Z-ers are styling bras to be hyper-visible in any outfit, and even doing away with shirts altogether. But this trend didn’t start with us.

Y2K fashion (from the late ’90s and early 2000s) has made a comeback, which is arguably where the bra-as-a-shirt trend originated. In 1996, the late singer Aaliyah was in a Tommy Hilfiger campaign sporting her then-favorite look: designer boxers and low-rise jeans. Instantly iconic, this look has since been imitated by a variety of brands and celebrities. Calvin Klein, Supreme, and Savage X Fenty have all turned this look into a bra and underwear set sold as simple cotton “undergarments” lined with a band featuring the brand name.

Casual underwear sets are so commonplace in today’s fashion lexicon that it’s been easy to overlook the group—men—that wasn’t as well versed in this style. But no more. In the year of our style lord 2021, men are starting to discover what can be accomplished when one wears a bra for fashion rather than function—because obviously, anyone regardless of gender can wear a bra for any reason.

SHINee’s Taemin literally broke the side of the internet where K-pop fans dwell after releasing his latest MV for his title track “Advice.” Per usual, he showcased a variety of compelling looks, but none more compelling than a white cropped tracksuit revealing a matching Supreme set.

While fans are not quite sure if the top of the set is a bra or a cropped shirt, this look is a recreation of the casual underwear sets typically worn exclusively by women in the mainstream. The resulting look is androgynous, fun, and should be hanging in a museum.

Four days later, Holland posted a photoset on Instagram and Twitter of him wearing a bikini bra top with biker shorts. I repeat: the look is androgynous, fun, and should be hanging in a museum.

Fashion is genderless, and yet bras are still gendered in the mainstream. While more underwear brands are launching genderless bras—for functional and fashionable purposes—it’s refreshing to see men like Taemin and Holland helping to break down any remaining bra-rriers (see what I did there?).

In addition, fashion has always pushed boundaries. This has spurred movements in which various articles of clothing have been deemed more fluid. Men donning bras joins a long list of clothing pieces that have switched from traditionally coded as feminine to genderless. Crop tops, skirts, and dresses have all been worn by the likes of Billy Porter, Frank Ocean, Tyler The Creator, Jaden Smith, Conan Gray, Harry Styles, Troye Sivan, Keiynan Lonsdale, Kid Cudi, and more who are toying with the construct of gender in important ways.

If men start wearing bras for fashion, this could help challenge the sexualization of women’s bodies. Of course, breasts are not sexual. While some have more fatty tissue than others, this is a phenomenon that spans all genders. And yet, it is women’s breasts that are controversial, immodest, and vulgar—a misconception that recently inspired a Florida high school to edit its female students’ yearbook photos for “dress code” violations.

A bra is a bra just like breasts are breasts. A person wearing a bra is simply a person wearing a bra. Sometimes it’s for function; sometimes it’s for fashion. If anything, I hope this is a style trend that catches on with all genders, because it is pretty fashionable by today’s standards.

It will be interesting to see how Taemin and Holland spark conversations around possible new fashion trends. It will be even more interesting to see how these conversations inspire a greater movement around more autonomy for all.

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Music Pop Culture

Harry Styles just dropped the mantra for 2021: ‘Treat people with kindness’

Just when I was contemplating about how 2021 took off for me, I stumbled upon Harry Styles’s new music video for his Fine Line single, Treat People With Kindness. Honestly, this is the virtual new year’s party I have never attended but enjoyed through the video like I am literally there.

In a new popular trend, Styles announced the music video only two hours before its release. The hashtag #TPWK, short for the song’s title, began trending shortly after, with fans and followers rapidly growing excited on Twitter.

The music video, directed by Ben and Gabe Turner, stars Fleabag actor and creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Clearly Styles is not the only New Year’s gift we had all been waiting for. The song opens with the 26-year-old performing in a night club. This is no ordinary night club. The visuals are all black and white which straight away take you to the classic dance era of the 1920s, so much unlike his virtual summer beach party that he took us on with the release of Golden.

TPWK is the simple New Year’s mantra all of us need to dance our troubles away, especially with COVID-19 still lingering on us.

You know you are watching a Styles music video when the visuals are as appealing as the tune and lyrics of the song. For this single, the former One Direction star and the 2019 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series Waller-Bridge, both look super stylish, dressed in matching glittery sweater jackets, paired with bell-bottomed tuxedo pants and a bow tie which is literally the cherry on top.

“I’ve got a good feeling, I’m just taking it all in,” as Style sings, a part of me already starts feeling positive towards whatever is in store for me this year. “Floating up and dreaming. Dropping into the deep end and if we’re here long enough, they’ll sing a song for us and we’ll belong,” these lyrics only reassured me that in times good and bad, in times when I am sad, I can always play a Styles song to feel better.

As the song progresses, the rock star that Styles is, leaps on Waller-Bridge’s table and invites her to dance with him. No brownie points for guessing what happens next because the 35-year-old actress instantly puts down her Martini, gives him her hand and joins the singer to shake a le as they run through the crowd in the club. Now, that is what you call a party.

Styles has single-handedly helped me kept my sanity intact through the rough year that 2020 was with his collection of music and oh-so-dreamy videos.

Fine Line is his second solo record, following the 2017 self-titled debut. The mind-boggling album earned him three nominations at the 2021 Grammy Awards: Best Pop Vocal Album, Best Pop Solo Performance for Watermelon Sugar, the song that made summers easy and breezy and Best Music Video for Adore You which became my jam last year.

If I call Styles my Santa for this year, it won’t be wrong because he dropped a teaser for TPWK, two days before Christmas proving that good things are coming to us soon. I am so glad that he did not disappoint with the final video.

The pop sensation recently announced his indefinite postponement of the UK and European shows, originally scheduled for February and March 2021.

“I can’t wait to see you all on the road as soon as it’s safe to do so. Treat people with kindness,” he Tweeted.

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The Internet Celebrities Up and Coming Music Pop Culture

The ‘Golden’ boy Harry Styles takes us to Italy in new music video

Just when I was contemplating my Monday blues, I stumbled upon Harry Styles new music single Golden and boy, it was all I needed as a breather.

The music video starts off with Styles sprinting out a tunnel towards you, singing ‘you are so golden’. Who would not like hearing that after a long day at work? Call me crazy but, I am not the only one. The song has already become the top trending music video on charts across the US.

I am listening to the song for the 50th time now and this is literally my face watching Harry Styles in the golden light.

I mean how else do you expect me to watch the video when the 26-year-old moves and groves in that oversized white linen shirt, which is only, buttoned from the middle somewhere while his hunky torso is showing? If the video was not shot along the Amalfi Coast in Italy, I would have asked someone to call for the fire brigade but, there was enough water already. It did not help in bringing down the temperature though.

I am not the only one who Styles saved from having a dull Monday. It is literally everyone on the internet today.

The music video is directed by none other than Ben and Gabe Turner who are the founders of Fulwell 73, a London based production house. They have been associated with Styles on many of his previous projects also, including several music videos from his One Direction days.

My favorite look for this single has to be the teal/turquoise suit that he wore. Show me a better looking man in that color and also carrying it so well. I will wait.

I might have been too quick to decide on a favorite though! The One Direction star went shirtless in this video, showing off his tattoos. He had reasons though. Who enjoys the Amalfi Coast fully clothed? Not Styles, at least.

Another fan favorite thing, apart from the gorgeous location and the catchy song that you won’t be able to stop humming, are the long necklaces that Styles has donned in the music single. This song from the Fine Line album is close to this golden boy’s quirky personality which is evident in the wardrobe choices he made for the video. The boot-cut printed yellow pants are to die for! Summers, please come soon, I want to party like Styles, too.

And always trust Styles to break all the gender-bias-dressing-up rules. That gold and white nail color is the IT trend this fall! Mark my words. Boys, why are you not taking notes from this stud already?

The song has caused uproar on Twitter and fans are literally pointing out at every single detail they have been keeping a look out for.

Even though the music video is fast-paced, neitzens on Twitter got hold of the missing pieces from the teaser they saw last week and were quick to share pictures of them, asking why the scenes were not included.

You can watch the complete music video here and thank me later for this Tuesday treat!

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Standoms Music Pop Culture

It’s been a full decade and One Direction still gives me butterflies in my stomach

Somehow, someway, One Direction turned ten this week.

Yes, ten. And, at 21 years old myself, I’m not quite sure when time managed to escape mebecause in my head I am still 13 writing fanfiction in my room, hanging up posters from Rolling Stone of the band on a beach, and having my heart literally melt because of the way that Harry Styles shakes his hair out of his eyesbut it is right now, in this moment, that I feel as if I’ve crashed headfirst into unwarranted adulthood. As if the rug has been pulled out from underneath me. Damn.

Ten years is a very, very long time. A lot can happen within a single decadein fact, a lot did happen. We’ll get to more on that later, but it is important to say first that I am starkly nostalgic of those times, which now seem to be reminiscent of the most incredible joy and comfort. It seemed as if the mind, body, and spirit of every single Directioner somehow operated on the same wavelength—and heartbeat. I always loved the idea that we all, as a collective, validated one another’s thoughts or commentary and found community in adoration. Looking back, being part of a fandom like this one was surely a bit of necessary respite in a time of awkwardness, petty teenage relationships, and deceit. 

Of course, there are other things too. For starters, it is common practice to associate things like personal style, music, cinema, and clothing to be both obvious and meaningful stakeholders of culture—which certainly helps in the case of any band or musician. Think of Michael Jackson’s moonwalk or Elton John’s sunglasses. Those are things you will never forget, or that you will even cherish. The kind of things that you can point out from a mile away. The kind of things that seem to transcend time and place—that sort through all of the randomness and bring you back to that one perfect moment or feeling. For One Direction, at least to me, it’s their silhouettes and boyish laughs. But also, it’s their evolution from shaggy hair, varsity jackets, khaki pants, suspenders, and striped T-shirts to slick black suits, skinny jeans, assortments of tattoos, and wide brim fedoras all the while maintaining a charming sense of self. 

Now, I know what you’re thinking—she’s obsessed! And, while that is a true statement, I am not just saying these things as a fangirl. Trust me, I’ve fallen in ‘love’ with my fair share of boy bands (insert the Jonas Brothers, 5 Seconds of Summer, and Big Time Rush here) but nobody, and I mean nobody, compares to One Direction. So, although this might seem like a stretch for most people, One Direction defined a generation. And, they defined it in a way that moved way beyond the capabilities and limitations of music.

There is no denying the enormity of the impact and that One Direction had, whether you are a fan or not. It is clear as day. 

However, it is quite important to note that their career as a band was not always a linear feat. As most people know, they weren’t always a band. Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, and Louis Tomlinson each started off as solo artists, all under 25 years old, on the X-Factor UK. On July 23, 2010 Simon Cowell, the notorious judge of the talent competition, pulled the 5 boys together and gave them the chance of a lifetime. By the time they rounded out the competition, One Direction wound up in third place and backed by Cowell’s record label, Syco. Right off the bat their first singles as a band toppled charts across every single continent. Quite literally, their Na na na‘s could be heard world-wide, which is nothing short of a testament to the stardom that they soon would face. Not to mention the frenzy of fans, media, and paparazzi that quickly surrounded the boys which in hindsight seems like an all-encompassing storm. It was a non-stop cycle of album making, global touring, countless 24-hour long live-streams and video diaries commemorating their relationship with fans, along with goofy realness that made them immensely crush-worthy. 

Fast-forwarding a bit, One Direction managed to accomplish a ton while in the limelight. In 2011, the band’s debut album Up All Night shot to #1 overnight and stayed there, making them the first UK group to peak at #1 in the US with a debut album. In addition, they were the first group to debut at #1 with their first four albums in the US: Up all Night, Take Me Home, Midnight Memories, and Four. In 2012, the band performed at the Olympics closing ceremony in London. By 2013, the group produced and released two concert documentaries titled One Direction: This Is Us and One Direction: Where We Are. In 2014, Billboard announced One Direction Artist of the Year. Altogether, the band has sold more than 70 million records worldwide. In addition, they’ve taken home 16 MTV awards, 154 awards in other isolated categories, and have been nominated for 317 awards in total. Plus, they have sold over 8,287,195 tickets on their tours.

On March 25, 2015 Zayn Malik, 22 years old at the time, left the band during the One The Road Again tour citing a need for normalcy and some time out of the spotlight. Speculations have risen since then about the real reason behind his leaving the band, including episodes of discrimination based on his religion and music style. The other boys continued on and produced the Made in the A.M. album that same year. The band never toured with this album and announced that they too would be going on a hiatus in January of 2016. All 5 members have gone on to maintain remarkable solo careers while holding on tight to their roots in One Direction. The most successful being Harry Styles, an undeniable international heartthrob and sensation.

So far, there has been no serious mention of a reunion in the near future, but hey, miracles do happen! Based on their social media presence on the day of their 10 year anniversary, the boys seem as amicable, genuine, and grateful as they were a decade ago.

Within their record-breaking career before entering a hiatus, the quintet managed to reaffirm what a boy band means all the while establishing their unique and notable brand. These are heavy, even monumental, footsteps to fill.

So, no, One Direction is not just a measly boy band. At incredibly young ages, they were thrust into a world of not so subtle adoration and managed to produce worthwhile music for a loyal, dedicated, fanbase. They changed my life in the best way. Let’s give credit where credit is due and grant them the celebration that they so desperately deserve.

Happy 10 Years of One Direction! 


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USA Celebrities Race Policy Inequality

Here’s why it’s important for celebrities to show their support for #BlackLivesMatter

Across the U.S., and even in many other countries, protesters have taken the street this week to rally against widespread police brutality, systemic racism, and to call attention towards the insufficient charges brought against not only the killers of George Floyd but also the killers of countless other Black victims of racial injustice. In every city protesters have been met by the local police force, in addition to the national guard, all making use of blunt, violent, and instigative tactics. Social media has also been full of callings for change, spreading knowledge or resources, and pointing out the many hypocrisies within our current system. Some of it, however, is performative. This means that some people, often celebrities, may be posting just to give off the allusion that they care, when in reality it is just empty support. One example is with the Glee star Lea Michele. Earlier in the week she tweeted this:

She was immediately met with backlash from a former co-worker who proved that her intentions could not possibly be genuine when those words did not reflect her actions in reality.

It also seems that Lana Del Ray has spoken out in support of the movement just days after posting one of the most problematic statements I’ve read in awhile that promotes a white-washed version of feminism. News flash: if your feminism isn’t intersectional we don’t want it.

Other examples of performative behavior appears through donations. I have seen some celebrities proudly post their $50 dollar donations to community bail funds, which is not a lot of money at all considering their celebrity status. In fact, I have even seen my own friends, who are 20-something years old and unemployed, donate more money. This kind of demonstration of support is insulting to the #BlackLivesMatter movement because celebrities are the ones with privilege and capital in our society. Yet, in cases like this, they are refusing to use it, even though they say on social media that they are all for equality and justice. #openyourpurse.

What I find to be the most dangerous, though, is celebrities who have not spoken up at all, or even worse, spreading the wrong message. Most of these people have a gigantic following, making the impression that they leave on the people that are influenced by them noticeable. It is an unfortunate truth, but celebrities set an example for A LOT of people on these kinds of things. So, it is important for celebrities to use their privilege wisely in times like these. They also need to show their activism, and then act on it, because they are the ones with the money to financially support a movement. In addition, celebrities, especially white celebrities, should make it their mission to amplify Black voices at this time, instead of raising their own. Let Black people grieve, vent, scream, and mobilize. It is up to the celebrity to make an effort to elevate their words because celebrities have the audience and the means to do so. And, let’s not forget that while at protests that same advice applies because white celebrities have the privilege of getting out of an arrest situation without serious repercussions, for the most part.

Among them, however are some celebrities who are doing it right. They have taken their actions way beyond social media and are showing their support for the #BlackLivesMatter movement through large donations and in person activism. I will say that this is by no means a celebration of these celebrities or celebrity culture, but rather a recognition of what should and could be done if done right. To be fair, I am also wondering where all those celebrities are who made the entire world cringe when they sang Imagine in March thinking it would cure coronavirus.

Halsey helped treat people at protests who have been injured after being shot at with rubber bullets.

Cole Sprouse was arrested while protesting in Santa Monica. He also bailed out a lot of protesters who were arrested with him.

Ariana Grande has been active in the spread of resources, donated to bail funds, and attended protests in Los Angeles.

Nick Cannon has been protesting in Minneapolis all week wearing a sweatshirt that reads, “Please. I can’t breathe.”

Timothée Chalamet attended protests in Los Angeles, signed positions, and donated to various organizations.

J. Cole has been attending #BlackLivesMatter protests since 2014.

Aminé, an American rapper, is protesting and has been actively pointing out injustices.

Jaylen Brown, a professional basketball player for the Boston Celtics, drove 15 hours to protest in his hometown of Atlanta.

Pedro Pascal has repeatedly been attending protests and demonstrating widespread support.

Jane Fonda has been fighting for this cause since the 1960s and is widely known as an ally to the Black Panthers.

John Cusack is known for his progressive ideals and has been attending protests in Chicago.

Kendrick Sampson is on instagram showing wounds after being shot at with rubber bullets.

Tinashe has also been vocal through activism and by attending protests.

Justin Timberlake donated to the Minnesota Freedom Fund

Chrissy Teigen and John Legend made a $200,00 donation spread across 3 organizations. 

John Boyega is showing support all the way from the U.K. 

Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds donated $200,000 to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund

Colin Kaepernick, NFL player and leader in a protest movement against police brutality and racism by kneeling during the national anthem at games, established a legal defense initiative for protesters. He will be providing free legal compensation for Minneapolis “Freedom Fighters.”

These are only a handful of the celebrities that have spoken out and make a commitment to justice. They are not special, or needing of praise. In fact, their actions should be the standard. It is a shame, but not surprising, that other celebrities aren’t not taking advantage of their privilege is beneficial and productive ways. It is all of our duty to take care and to take a stand against the hate that is seemingly all around us. Check out our action guide if you want to know how you can demand justice for George Floyd by taking an active part in eradicating racial injustice. Read it, follow it, share it, and encourage your friends/family to do the same.  

Music Pop Culture

Harry Styles’ new music video is about oral sex and we’re loving it

“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. 

Book Reviews Books BRB Gone Viral Pop Culture

Here’s every emotion I felt while reading the “After” series

Ever since I can remember, books have been the biggest part of my life. And for me, a good book is simply one that shakes me to my core and keeps me reading. But only a few books have been capable of pulling me into a deep, pure, ecstatic need for words.

A few weeks ago, I watched the movie After. It’s based on Anna Todd’s After series which is supposed to be Harry Styles fanfiction though I really didn’t see the similarity. While the plot of the movie intrigued me, it wasn’t enough. I felt like the film skipped over scenes. So, last week, the reader in me went in search of the first book.

One week later – I’ve read all five novels in the series and my emotions are all over the place. 

The five books – After, After We Collided, After We Fell, After Ever Happy, and Before revolve around the story of two characters, Tessa Young and Hardin Scott.

Tessa is the girl next door – pure, innocent, focused but also flawed in her own ways. Hardin is an encapsulation of the bad boy trope, except for one thing – his love of literature, a side of him which really struck me. He quotes Austen and Fitzgerald, has facial piercings, and is covered in tattoos. 

The characters meet through Tessa’s roommate Steph, one of Hardin’s friends. A pre-planned game of truth or dare pushes them closer together under false pretenses, the details of which we don’t find out about until the end of the first book.

The After series encompasses the devastatingly beautiful yet incredibly toxic and emotionally abusive relationship between the two characters; the way Hardin constantly shows up when Tessa doesn’t want him to, the way he acts around her co-worker Trevor, and his intense anger that blows out of proportion and ends in violence almost every time things don’t go his way.

And Tessa has her fair share of moments; when she kisses another boy in front of Hardin just to prove her point, and how she keeps running to Zed Evans (Hardin’s friend) when she has a fight with Hardin. All these factors contributed to making their relationship increasingly flammable and yet, they still somehow always worked it out.

Reading about how toxic the relationship was was incredibly uncomfortable. Typically, when I read or watch something with such a messed up relationship premise, I call them out on it.

However, something about these books pulled me into them.

Maybe it was the burning chemistry between the two characters, maybe it was the way literature was a constant theme in the story, or maybe it was because I was waiting for the characters to finally be together – without all the bullshit. I also kept reading to see the bad boy turn good.

Because isn’t that one of the reasons we turn to fiction? To make us believe in things we wouldn’t otherwise think possible.

While the After series is not inspiring or life-changing, the books are quick, easy reads that I lost myself in. And now here I am, struggling to get this story out of my head. 

Moments like Tessa and Hardin’s heated discussion over Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, Tessa bringing Hardin closer to his estranged father, Hardin taking Tessa to his favorite spot – these are the moments that pulled me through the suffocating thread of their relationship.

And Hardin. He struggles with connecting with the people in his life (until he meets Tessa) and that in itself is the biggest challenge of all. There’s a line in the third book that reads:

“It’s ironic really, that the man who hates the world is most loved by it.”

It was tragic to see that Hardin had trouble seeing that. His character is emotionally damaged and he carries his childhood trauma right up until the fourth book which I found so appealing because for me, as a reader, and as a person, seeing someone face their trauma, accept it, and move on – that’s a story that needs to be heard.

The chemistry between the characters in the After series is undoubtedly palpable. They’re constantly pulled towards each other, mistake after mistake, and although Hardin does some terrible things, Tessa is not the innocent character she started off as.

The book is peppered with hot and heavy scenes, but above that, it has well-rounded primary as well as secondary characters, and a story that will make your heart hurt just a little.

The inherent problem within these books, though, is the fact that Tessa keeps going back to Hardin time and time again. He messes up, lies, destroys everything in his path, and yet she still goes back to him. Although I can’t seem to understand it, I still somehow root for it.

Plot twist after plot twist kept me tethered. Most stories have a beginning, middle, and end, but the arc of this story keeps rising and falling, keeping you engaged with its tumultuous movement.

I don’t think the books support toxic relationships, but they somehow portray this frightening reality that many people can relate to. So if you’re looking for a quick read, an emotional rollercoaster, and a story that drags you into its depths, this one’s for you.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Music Pop Culture

In the battle of solo careers, which One Direction boy REALLY reigns supreme?

When I was approached with the idea for this piece, my immediate reaction was, “I could never. It’d be like choosing a favorite child!” But then I thought, as a self-proclaimed One Direction scholar and a longtime (read: long-suffering) fan, who better to do the job? Besides, I’m sick of reading similar posts from stuffy music critics who never deigned to pay attention to the boys until after the hiatus.

For the sake of this article, I’ll  be ranking the boys based on their own solo singles. Singles released with DJs (i.e. “Just Hold On” and “Get Low”) will not count. I’ll also be ranking them from five (the lowest) to one (the highest). Here we go:

5. Liam Payne

Liam originally tried out for the X-Factor two years before the other boys. When he was denied, he returned with a vengeance.

When Simon Cowell wiggled his fingers and created 1D just before boot camp in 2010, the other boys always remarked how Liam was the most serious about the entire process. I take you on that quick trip down memory lane to say this: Liam Payne was always going to make solo music. There was never any doubt in my mind. So, I expected more from him. A lot more. “Strip That Down,” while catchy as hell, is incredibly cliche.

Not to mention the lyrics, “I used to be in 1D/But now I’m free” sounds like he decided to have a go with a Songwriting For Dummies book.

4. Niall Horan

I feel guilty for saying this but…I didn’t expect much from Niall.

He’s very happy-go-lucky and was an even bigger 1D fan that I am, but I never expected him to go solo. When he released his first single before the other boys (minus Zayn of course) I was beyond surprised. That being said, “This Town” did nothing for me. It was too reminiscent of Ed Sheeran. It was extremely “white boy sings a generic love song while playing acoustic guitar.” I got my fill of that particular genre during my college years, thank you very much.

His second single “Slow Hands,” though? Well, that’s a certified bop.

3. Louis Tomlinson

Louis’s voice has always been a polarizing topic of discussion within the fandom.

The general consensus is that he’s an awful singer. I, however, am firmly not in that majority. I love Louis’s voice. I spent my formative years listening to pop punk bands and Louis’s higher pitch reminds me of all the front-men I grew up listening to. I’ve been hoping he’d start a pop punk band since 2012. “Back to You” is not the emo anthem I dreamt about, but I still love it a whole lot. His voice works well with upbeat pop music, and his single caught and kept my attention longer than Liam’s and Niall’s.

There was a solid week straight where I watched the video about twice a day. 

2. Zayn Malik

This is the big one.

Zayn had to put out a legendary album if I was ever going to forgive him for the utter devastation he caused me after essentially breaking up with the other boys (in the middle of a tour!) via text. Luckily, with Mind of Mine, he delivered a truly classic album. I’ve always felt a specific kinship with Zayn because he was the only person of color and because, like me, he was raised on R&B and reggae music. Since he had such incredible formative musical influences, I was confident that his solo music wouldn’t let me down. Unlike Liam, Zayn was able to live up to my high expectations for him. Now all I need from him is an actual tour.  

It’s been two years, Zayn. I’m waiting. 

1. Harry Styles

I’ve been a Harry girl from day one, but I’ll be honest with you, I was scared to listen to his solo stuff.

Unlike Zayn, all of Harry’s musical influences are the opposite of my own. He loves Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles and The Rolling Stones….basically the kind of music my white friends put on and are horrified I don’t recognize. In many ways, Harry’s self-titled album is exactly what I expected. It’s grandiose. It’s ambitious, and I can trace each specific influence on each track. But I love it. It’s been incredibly satisfying to watch the goofy and weirdly polite boy I’ve loved for the last six years slowly take over the world.

He sounds great, his live performances have been amazing, and if I get to watch him prance around in neon and floral-print suits, can I really complain?

Listen, I’ll always love my 1D boys. It’s just…now that they’re solo, I love some of them a teeny bit more than others.

TV Shows Movies Pop Culture

20 signs you’re an absolute fangirl

There are some people in the world who can consume media casually. They can watch a new film or finish a television show and think “Wow, that was great,” and then proceed to carry on with their day and, shockingly, the rest of their lives.

If you’re anything like me, though, media consumes you. More often than not you can be found thinking about, dreaming about, and obsessing over your fandom of choice. If you’re a full-blown fangirl, you’ll definitely relate to everything on this list.

1. Referring to your fave exclusively by their first name and casually dropping them into the conversation.

Your friends and family have also (begrudgingly) learned to refer to your fave but their first name.

2. The pure elation you feel when your favorite show gets renewed for another season.

Yessss. Another 22 episodes of pure indulgence.

3. Reading fan fiction when the canon doesn’t quite meet your expectations.

Sometimes you’re lucky enough to find a fic that’s even better than the canon.

4. Losing hours of sleep because of an especially great Netflix-binging session.

“Just…one…more episode!”

5. Going to a fan event or convention and finally feeling like you’re among your people.

Let’s stay here together forever and ever and ever.

6. When you overhear strangers talking about your fave and you must resist the urge to rudely butt into their conversation.

You must continue to resist even when they’re getting facts about your fave so very wrong.

7. When someone you’ve just met asks about your fave in passing and you have to go to great lengths to not expose the true depths of your love.

“Oh, uh Harry Styles? Yeah, I think I’ve heard of him once or twice.”

8. Being willing to empty the entire contents of your bank account on your fave.

Merch? Concert tickets? Movie premiere passes? UM. YES PLEASE.

9. Having to skillfully dodge spoilers on social media.

For the love of all that is pure and holy, USE YOUR TAGS. Think before you spoil!

10.Gasping aloud when finding out important news about your fave and scaring unassuming folk around you.

Oops. Sometimes it’s just genuinely impossible to contain your excitement.

11. Flexing your creative muscles through a fandom-related outlet.

Writing fic? Reading fic? Making fan art? You can and have done it all.

12. Hating ship wars and all of the drama that comes with them.

We’re all friends here and getting along is so much more enjoyable.

13. Meeting a core group of fangirl friends through fandom and a mutual love of your fave.

You love them almost as much as you love your fave.

14. When you have to stop watching a great episode and venture out into the “real” world.

Sunlight and fresh air are both completely overrated.

15. Learning viable knowledge like HTML, Final Cut, and Photoshop through the making of .gifs and edits on Tumblr.

Don’t forget to add it to your resume! Fandom helping you out in your future; who would have guessed!

16. The utter devastation you feel at the cancellation of your favorite show.

You’ll never get a chance to find out what happened to the characters you loved like your own family. What a cruel, cruel world!

17. The sheer terror you feel when a coworker finds or asks to follow one of your fandom-related social media accounts.


18. Gently dragging your fave and calling them out on their bullshit (from a place of love of course).

No one wants a fave who contributes to the cis-heterosexist-patriarchal bs that’s already prevalent in our society.

19. Scrolling through your camera roll and realizing that it’s 90% full of pics of your fave.

Houston, we might have a problem.

20. Discovering a new show/book/film/podcast and starting the specific brand of fangirl love and over-zealousness all over again.

Listen, it’s a hard job but someone’s gotta do it.