How many people can say they have a celebrity who they look up to who not only shines light on issues that need to be addressed, but someone who embodies the traits they promote? It is a rare occurrence in today’s world, but Harry Styles, rising solo artist and member of the band One Direction, which is on hiatus, does just that.
Celebrities lead a rather stressful lifestyle. Behind all the glitz and glam, they deal with a constant invasion of what little privacy they have. Many argue that they chose this lifestyle, and therefore forfeited basic rights by choosing to be in the limelight. But that doesn’t always justify the way they’re treated. It’s no surprise that many celebrities through the years have reached a breaking point.
However, Styles, who entered this crazy world of fame at the mere age of 16, still has the heart of gold he showed in his first appearance on “The X Factor.” After seven years in the headlines of entertainment news, he has learned how not only to handle the fame in doses, but how to use his platform to spread messages that should be embedded in our communities. He has had his fair share of bad press, but that hasn’t stopped him from advocating for what he believes in.
Styles stands up for women, the LGBTQ+ community and his fans. There are numerous occasions to reference as proof of this claim, but perhaps the most obvious is that the merchandise from his first solo tour revolves around four profound words: Treat People With Kindness.
These words are just slight variances of things Styles has said in the past, all of which encourage the virtues of love and acceptance. Styles is known for his keen taste of fashion as he sports floral Gucci suits on stage, so for him to make a decision to make his merchandise simple in terms of design, but intricate in terms of meaning, is huge. The message he spreads at his concerts is stitched into each article of clothing, a constant reminder to fans that it’s okay to wear your heart on your sleeve. More importantly, it reminds them to carry out kindness the way he does, long after they have left the venue.
As an artist in concert, Styles creates an environment where people of all different ages, backgrounds and orientations can feel safe and loved. In his show in Dallas, he closed the show with a statement: “I could not feel more honored to stand and perform in front of a group of strong women every night.”
This isn’t the first time Styles has shown his love for the women who make up his fan base. He debunked the stereotype that his fans are only teenage girls in an interview with Rolling Stone.
“Who’s to say that young girls who like pop music … have worse musical taste than a 30-year-old hipster guy?” Styles questioned in the interview. “How can you say young girls don’t get it? They’re our future. Our future doctors, lawyers, mothers, presidents, they kind of keep the world going. Teenage-girl fans — they don’t lie. If they like you, they’re there. They don’t act ‘too cool.’ They like you, and they tell you. Which is sick.”
Styles is someone who proudly performs on stage with pride flags of all different hues, including the specific transgender and bisexual flags, but he has been doing this far before he ventured out on his own. There are countless instances when he was performing with One Direction where he would proudly wave the pride flag and dance across the stage.
He encourages his fans to be “who they want to be” every night of his tour. He doesn’t take anything or anyone for granted, reminding fans during every show and at public appearances how much he loves them. For Styles, there is no line between “fan” and “friend.” More than once, he has said that without his fans he would have nothing.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Styles is not his charisma, nor is it how openly he loves, but it’s that he’s simply a guy who is being himself — someone who is kind and understanding.
In a society that breeds fear and dissension, I’m honored to say I’m a fan of Styles. Styles is well aware that his fanbase is made of young girls — and boys — and that the narrative he provides makes a difference. He’s shaping minds and hearts with simple, but necessary values. Maybe it’s time we take a page from his book, and remember that kindness goes a long way.