There was a time when embracing one’s “self” was not appreciated with a very evident prioritization of a mask over the revelation of true identity. Pop stars have often been deemed commercial “products” who glamorizes life to an extent that the receiver while being in awe, can only “think” about living it. Travelling, drinking, and sex have for a long time been the sole identifiers of a pop star’s life, more so than their music. On top of that, paparazzi have made sure that one gets enough scoops about a celebrity’s life at the cost of the subject’s privacy and well-being.
While reality shows give us a glimpse into the talent of a prospective artist, they are also one of the biggest sources of commercialized music. A lot of groups who made into the industry and are popular now, are the consequences of the efforts made by the team running these shows. It’s neither bad nor good but just one of the ways in which industry works.
When Little Mix became the first group to win The X Factor, the general expectation was of a girl group that would rule the stage for a few years and then would go on a hiatus, living life as non-existent celebrities who once had a name. In one of its pieces, The Fader talked about the disparity between the popularity of boy groups (ex – BTS) and girl groups. The writer validly made a point that today, the message that girl groups tend to convey has become so saturated that it becomes difficult for the listener to identify with the group or its individual members.
In such a scenario, where do groups like Little Mix stand?
While people do tend to focus on the repetitive mechanism adopted by the management to discover and promote the artists, they forget to consider the individual journies. We forget to consider that even though Little Mix might be one of the many groups formed on The X Factor, it is the only group that won the trophy (the first one). One Direction became popular despite their loss on the show but one of the reasons why Little Mix was able to embark on their successful venture was because of their hard work on the show.
In the industry where artists are forgotten so frequently, Little Mix sought the change, grabbed the opportunity and made a point of proving themselves.
Yes, “Girl Power” as a message is a “relic” of the 90s as The Fader article justifiably mentioned but unfortunately, until recently, a lot of music videos, songs, and projects favored “goddess-like” beauty, “slim bodies” and “fair” faces. The reason why Little Mix became popular (surpassing Spice Girls) was because of the unabashed embracement of their “ real selves”. The self which is a bit clumsy, dirty, and a hell lot open.
Here’s an episode they shared with The Guardian,
There’s a popular idea that pop stars forever remain the age they were when they became famous. “Yeah, because you’re just being looked after for the rest of your life!” says Perrie. Jesy giggles: “I always wonder, when am I going to get that ‘mummy power’ thing? When am I going to be able to touch hot things?” “We’re very childish in a lot of ways,” says Jade. Leigh-Anne snorts, remembering: “We were doing a gig in Spain and yet again had four hotel rooms that never get used. We always share a bed. So we’re all in bed together and we’ve all got wind. And we thought it would be funny to put it on Instagram. Farting on cue.”
There it is, the silliness I’d been promised. They screech with laughter. “That is so not girl-bandy!” says Perrie. “Like: ‘Whoooo come get me boys, brrpppp!’” “Did we delete it?” asks Jesy. “Did we?” No, they didn’t.
The group members comprise of young girls who grew up in the public eye. They had earlier shared their struggle with disorders like anorexia and their bewilderment at the journey they had undertaken but with each passing year, the very messages of “Girl Power” “Sisterhood” and “Female Friendship” have become the sole reasons for their survival.
So, even though the messages have become repetitive, their significance today goes on to show their need. The re-emphasis is deliberate because it is the only way through which one can live an independent, sane and probably a peaceful life.
Little Mix don’t motivate girls to lose weight or shame them for not being dolled up enough. Instead, they invest their energy in talking about things and participating in events that matter. When Perrie showed her scar, she was not glamorizing pain. Instead, her scar was an aspect of hers that we never knew about. It was a clear indication that what we see and what one might be going through can be two very different things.
Jade has made a point of showcasing her support for LGBT community by not only advocating equality but also by openly educating herself on several topics including the responsibilities of becoming an ally. Young girls and boys both relate to the group and the individual members because of their individual struggles. Even though their music is a result of the collaboration of a lot of people, their individual messages, interests, and concerns are still very much their own.
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Had the best time yesterday celebrating the @stonewalluk #StonewallYouthAwards hosted by #LBGDiversity ? I was so inspired by all the young campaigners and very grateful to get the chance to discuss why I wanted to join the Stonewall family, what it means to be an ALLY and to present the lovely Anna with the Young Campaigner of the Year Award ?? We could all learn a lot from these incredible young people. #ComeOutForLGBT #AcceptanceWithoutException
They have “normalized emotions” something that was almost a taboo in the industry. A woman as soon as her tear rolled down her eye would be deemed hysteric while a man would be considered “not manly enough”.
But these young women have been able to show where to strike the balance and where to let go. Their disinterest in the opinions of others about them has been the key to their existence, influence as well as their success.
They have been one of the few girl groups that have clearly defied what it meant to be the “female artist” (in the past). Little Mix are just artists who happen to be women. They are strong individuals whose identities go beyond the excerpts shared in the media.
By taking up everything they were “supposed to do” as a girl group, Little Mix have disrupted the very structure that led to their existence. Their presence in the industry is not only historic (in terms of music) but also significant. What do you think? Share your thoughts via tweet @CelebMix.