Verse Head Editor Caitlin weaves music, growing up and Harry Styles into a poignant narrative.
I’ve had many love affairs in my life. All with notably older men. David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Robbie Williams, George Michael – just to name a few.
These men were brought into my life by my father, and sometimes by my older sister. Bowie and Jagger have made almost as much of an impact on my life as my two music-enthused family members.
Brooke and I danced to Rock DJ in her kitchen, at parties, and we screamed along when we saw Robbie in concert. Similarly, Dad and I have spent hours listening to Jagger in car rides singing along to Wild Horses. Musicians became just as important to me as the music they made.
At age nine, I would wait ten minutes for the dial-up Internet to load one photo at a time of Bowie, and sit in awe. This happened with all the men I mentioned previously. They were gorgeous. Their outfits were so cool, the way they moved around stages and sang was effortless… and their hair. Their hair was always perfect. Their hair always defined them.
In hindsight, it’s pretty cool that I was never shocked by Bowie’s jumpsuits or Jagger’s dance moves, and that speaks volumes of my upbringing. Self-expression has always been encouraged by my dad, whether it be wearing a pink shirt and Doc Martens to work (I wish this was me), or crying just because you need to. Having only sisters, Dad was my only male influence, even after I started school. Any ideas of what a man ‘should’ and ‘shouldn’t be’ didn’t exist.
I never thought pop music was my thing.
Four years ago, my friend lent me One Direction’s ‘Take Me Home’ album.
Until then, Jagger was the coolest and the hottest. But my first Google search (3G and all) solidified that Harry Styles was it.
Obviously he’s gorgeous, but he became a symbol of all things I loved. Styles was (is) an eclectic mix; wearing gold boots and hats at the most bizarre of times, tripping and falling on stage, dancing terribly, publicly crying, showing support for #HeForShe and LGBTQI+ movements, and expressing a general love for life. And his hair. It seems that this facet of dreamy musicians never changes. It still defines them.
There are similarities between the men I loved in my childhood from afar (like Bowie and Jagger), and those who have influenced me IRL (like my dad and high school art teacher). They all test ideas about what ‘masculinity’ is or is not. These men are sensitive, expressive, passionate, and unapologetic about it. They are glaringly multi-faceted – in the best way.
As I noted, Styles’ hair defined him. And it started to define me, too.
Kiss You was the song that won me over in 2013. Harry’s hair was a messy, curly mop at that point. It seemed he was growing it out. And I was growing up. I was finishing my gap year and still didn’t have any idea about what I wanted to do. I was a mess.
2014 led to a classier, more ‘grown up’ ‘do for him. At some point this year, I became a functioning university student and became as much of an adult as I could at age 20. I came to terms with my sexuality. I learnt about feminism. Styles and I also had a very similar hair-length this year. I put it down to fate.
There was longer, perfectly curled hair in 2015. All of a sudden Styles wasn’t just a boy, but a young man covered in tattoos. He was wearing Gucci and outrageous suits and I… was not. But I stopped questioning the degree I was in and the path I was on. I got my first tattoos. I also fell in love with a girl. Just as life changing as Gucci, I’m sure.
2016 was a mix of extra-long and a sudden haircut. A huge haircut. For both of us. It was physical proof of growth. We both ventured down new paths, trying new things. I started to put on my metaphorical gold boots each day. I stopped apologising for taking up space, and I started to take my art seriously.
Harry Styles is a poster boy for many reasons. Yes, he’s pretty (so bloody pretty) and very chic. However, he is proof there is no shame in being sensitive or wearing floral shirts with only half the buttons done up, or wearing nail polish – regardless of gender.
I love how the men around me (or existing in other places with no idea that I exist) have shaped me. I am grateful for them being bold in self-expression and challenging gender and questioning what it means to be a man.
I thank Harry Styles, his hair, and I look forward to many more years of growing together.
Words by Caitlin Tait.
Images by Rachael Sharman.