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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCF chapter.

As a man who has stolen the hearts of One Direction fans and reluctant pop music lovers alike, there is plenty of buzz about Harry Styles. From music, clothes, hair and nails to renownedly fashionable fans and an engaging live persona, there’s so much to love about this captivating pop icon.

Harry Styles stands for more than a pop culture crush, though. Through fashion, music and much more, Harry is embracing himself fully and honestly, opening the minds and hearts of many people, and helping people like me acknowledge and come to terms with my own flaws and shortcomings in a beautiful, positive way. 

Before I was a fan of Harry, I read an article from The Guardian in 2019, where he addresses the controversy over his dress-wearing, Vogue cover-adorning public image. An issue many people seemed to be discussing was if his androgyny was simply a recycled David Bowie or Billy Porter knockoff. Or if it was harmful to the groups and individuals society has smudged or erased from history for the same “risque” behavior.

When asked about this Harry replied simply,  “Am I sprinkling in nuggets of sexual ambiguity to try and be more interesting? No.” He continues, “in terms of how I wanna dress, and what the album sleeve’s gonna be, I tend to make decisions in terms of collaborators I want to work with. I want things to look a certain way. Not because it makes me look gay, or it makes me look straight, or it makes me look bisexual, but because I think it looks cool… I just think sexuality’s something that’s fun… I can’t say I’ve given it any more thought than that.”

The article then continued along the lines of his Fine Line release and his lifestyle as a famous pop artist. As I finished the article, I had some thoughts. 

Harry Styles performing at the 2021 Grammy Awards
Photo by Francis Specker / CBS

This man puzzled me. For one thing; he’s known for his notoriously devoted fans from his One Direction days, so it seemed to me there was no need for him to reinvent himself quite so drastically. No matter what he portrayed, he would have an audience. What motive did he have for his public persona? Could he possibly be telling the truth, presenting himself and supporting causes the way he does simply because it was authentic to him? In a world where beloved celebrities seem to be showing their true colors left and right, it seemed too good to be true. 

It was shortly after this I finally decided to give Harry a shot. I listened to Fine Line and then Harry Styles and enjoyed the upbeat, summery pop flavor of the more mainstream-oriented Fine Line, and the nods to ’70s rock in his debut album. Yet, despite enjoying these albums, I concluded that nothing, except perhaps “She” wowed me in a way that explained the hype. I decided that he was good, refreshingly different but nothing special. I added songs to my playlists and I moved on. 

Despite this conclusion, I found myself repeatedly coming back to his music. I learned more about the person behind my neighbor’s old One Direction poster. “To Be So Lonely” became a song that spoke to me and voiced feelings most people would never admit they had. When I began to heal from the first real heartbreak of my life, and acknowledge my shifting self-perception, “Cherry” and “She” were there for support. The more I listened, the more I began to value Harry’s honesty and vulnerability, and his unafraid acknowledgment of his own flaws and mistakes.

It’s this quality that sets him apart from other artists. His ability to wear his heart on his sleeve and discuss shameful emotions in a way that makes them feel not quite so ugly. Harry Styles showed me that it is okay to feel jealous, depressed, anxious, self-sabotaging and lost. That healing comes from being honest with yourself about who you are and what you’re struggling with.

Typing this with freshly painted Harry Styles smiley face nails and thinking all the way back to that Guardian article, I can’t help but admire how honest Harry seems in every aspect of his image. His self-expression is simply an expression of who he is and how he’s feeling. His music, including the fantastic new album Harry’s House, also exudes this mentality.

Harry Styles doesn’t pretend to be perfect, and that’s the most appealing, healing thing about him; a man who had every opportunity to fit himself into a mold and instead decided to show himself to the world exactly as he is, with no apologies for being, just like everyone else, complicated. 

Hadley is a sophomore at the University of Central Florida majoring in Writing and Rhetoric, with a minor in Creative Writing. They love collecting records, thrifting, writing about music, and re-watching NBC Hannibal. You can probably find them sipping a lavender latte, daydreaming about next year's Spotify Wrapped, and pretending they live in the 70s.