One Direction fans took over the internet Monday, as they often do, after one of the band's members said something bad about himself 😢. In an interview with BBC Radio 1, Niall Horan offhandedly mentioned he doesn't pose nude because he doesn't "have the body for nude selfies."
Perhaps not shockingly, fans instantly latched on to the self-deprecating remark and jumped to Niall's defense with a worldwide trending hashtag, #NiallYourBodyIsWonderful.
Ah, the luxuries of boy band fandom. How nice for Niall! This kind of generous outpouring of love doesn't happen to just anyone. Niall, of course, is a celebrity. He's also what you would call "objectively cute." You know, he's got that classic scruffy-blonde-hair boy band look that teen girls go crazy for.
The charming little remark (oh Niall, of course you're suitable for nude selfies!!) is the kind of trademark self-deprecating statement we love from our celebs. It makes them a bit more relatable and lovable—like, if Niall, verifiable boy band heartthrob, can have misgivings about his body, we can, too!
A little comment about body negativity may even serve as a good PR move. And yet, amid this swell of internet support, let's just take a moment to acknowledge that more normal-looking folks don't always enjoy the same luxury. As Heather Havrilesky pointed out a few years ago in an article for Vulture about "America's BFFs," we only really like this kind of behavior from people who are generally accepted as beautiful—she used actresses Mila Kunis and Jennifer Lawrence as examples, comparing them to Lena Dunham.
"Dunham rarely comes off as anything but earnest and funny and self-deprecating, the same party tricks demonstrated by Kunis and Lawrence. So why all the hate?" Havrilesky wrote. "Audiences presumably don't crave Dunham as their best friend because they already have a best friend just like Dunham. They want an upgrade. The key is to act just like average humans, but not to look remotely like them."
Meanwhile, when a female celebrity talks negatively about her body, we tend to label it as a "confession" and praise her for being "real." But when a cute male celebrity like Niall says his body isn't good enough, the internet comes to his defense—revealing a pretty significant double standard in public body image.
Sure, we show support when a supermodel like Chrissy Teigen shares a picture of her stretch marks on Instagram or Hillary Duff make some slightly self-mocking remark. Stars, they're just like us! But wouldn't it be nice if the world reacted as fervently and positively as Niall's fans every time a celeb pointed out a supposed physical flaw?
Listen, Niall, your body is wonderful—and so are all the normal-looking bodies out there, too.
Hannah Smothers is a reporter for Fusion's Sex & Life section, a Texpat, and a former homecoming princess.