The Bieber Effect

I look at Justin Bieber, and I see a woman.

Now I am not the only person who thinks so, (see The Biebs not only looks like a woman, he looks like an incredibly attractive woman. He is prettier than me, no doubt. His lips are pouty, his eyebrows are perfectly shaped, his hair is comparable to Halle Berry’s ‘do, and trust me, very few women can pull that hair style off. You have to be ridiculously hot to do that. And J.B. is.

He/She really is.

It’s not shocking that a young male pop star who is the heartthrob to many girls looks so girly. It’s quite common, actually. Back in the day I had a gigantic sticker of Lance Bass hanging in my middle school locker. I loved him. Like loved him. Those fairy-like eyes, that perfectly spiked hair, the little shock in his openly gayness that he would announce later in life. Yep. Mr. Bass (pronounced like the fish, though his vocal contribution to NSYNC was the bass line, OHMYGOD HOW CUUUUUTE!!) had all the ingredients to be a teeny bopper.

Clean cut, innocent, talented enough and…

blatantly androgynous.

Look at the priors:

The Jonas Brothers – matching outfits, tight jeans, Christian school girl values.

Joey McIntyre – piercing blue eyes that would look great with a gold shimmer

Hanson – Truth be told, I thought they were ugly, super feminist women when I first saw MmmBop.

Donny Osmond – smile of Mormon gold

David Cassidy – hair that made shampoo ads melt

Early 60’s Beatles – ditto

Michael Jackson – ‘nuff said

It’s almost like this apparent androgyny is the selling point to record execs, who I’m assuming are older white men with lots of money. Creep factor aside, they’ve been on to something for years. My question is, how did they know androgyny was key to making millions?

How do execs know something that little girls don’t? I am almost a woman (25 this year but living with my parents, so close!) and it is just dawning on me that I was into the pretty boy/girl look at age 12.

And it’s not like 12 year old girls are also really into people like RuPaul and the cast of La Cage Aux Folles. (Well, I was, but I’m also a theater girl. Different breed, you see.) That said, girls are rather gaga for people like Adam Lambert and Pete Wentz. (Speaking of Gaga, don’t even get me started on how she fits into this whole equation.)

And it’s definitely not because at the heart of it, all tween girls are secretly lesbians. (Some sure, but not all.) Case and point, I’ve kissed a girl and I did not like it (fuck you Katy Perry) but that doesn’t change the fact that I had Leonardo DiCaprio’s Titanic picture taped on my fifth grade desk.  (Think Leo wasn’t womanly when he was young? Rewind your VHS of Titanic again, examine that jaw line, and then get back to me.)

So, how is it that we gals really believed in Wynona Ryder’s love for Edward Scissorhands even with the lipstick and pale foundation delicately put on his face? Her jock boyfriend was much manlier, and sure E.S. was an underdog and that was the point of the story, but youth has no rational for that bullshit. We watched Johnny Depp and thought, “how cute!  I wuv him 4eva.”

Elders screamed for Mickey Rooney and youngsters scream for the Biebs for the same exact reason:

Androgyny makes young ladies feel safe.

There’s no way a person as fragile and dainty as Justin Bieber would ever lay a hand on his gal Selena. When Chris Brown did it, it threw girls into a fucking loop of confusion. Needless to say, since then Mr. Brown has doned a stupid hair cut and bulged his biceps out by three sizes. Gone are his dimples, and welcomed are his lyrics such as “she accidentally slip and fall on my dick.” Way to show the world, Classy Chris.

That aside, I think it is very telling of young women and perhaps women in general with the chronic trend of Justin Bieber teen heartthrobs. Here we are thinking we’re working our way past this glass ceiling, yet we can’t even fantasize about real men because, deep down, they frighten us.

It is safer for girls to thumb tack Taylor Lautner pics on their walls than to post Eminem. That’s not say that young girls don’t crush on Slim Shady, but let’s be honest: if one were to spot a girl with Em on their facebook page, chances are they’d be worried.

I remember in 6th grade this chick Yolanda was spending all her computer time looking up pictures of Tupac, clicking away, saying how hot he was and how sexy his tattoos were, and I remember thinking, in my intellectual sixth grade brain, “You like Tupac? Bet he beats women. Bet he cheats on his wife. You’re an idiot, Yolanda. Now let me get back to chatting with strangers on the internet.” Nevermind that by the time Yolanda was searching for him, Tupac was already dead. “But I bet when he was alive he beat something.”

Yes, it’s safer to like the Peter Pan than to like the Captain Hook. And even in later years when Pan was too old, we had Rufio to fawn over.

And I’m saying there is something wrong with that.

I’m not saying that young girls should be in love with an old hairy Robin Williams or a notably violent 50 Cent, but shouldn’t they be allowed to, say, have a crush on the bulky action hero by now?

Aren’t we at a place where the next teen heartthrob could have a beard, or be 7’2” 300 lbs (not in a teddy bear way), or maybe even be a minority? What are we so scared of?

I don’t know. I don’t think girls know. I don’t know if they are programmed by the higher up music execs to give it a fleeting thought.

And it’s not about liking the manly man. Not really. It’s more about feeling comfortable enough to. Jeremy Renner in Hurt Locker? Yeah, I could take him. Any of the dudes that have played The Hulk? Bring it on. The Terminator? Well, he’s more just “ew” now. But you get my drift.

Until women feel more equal to men, girls will have to continue crushing on the ones that look like women.

And, yes, I acknowledge that I am only talking about a small smidgen of the population (young, straight, teen girls who love mainstream  pop music), and no, this is not a blanket statement of an entire gender problem (females all over the world, unite!). I’m not advocating putting fem looking singers out of the job (some may be really really talented, you guys. Fer serious. Smiley face. Emoticon. Blah.) I just think it is noteworthy to acknowledge this phenomenon. Because on the flip side, there is no boy equivalent to this androgyny game.  Dudes like Minka Kelly at any age. Ellen, on the other hand, is out of the prepubescent boy universe.

So, it begs the question: Who’s deciding these factors? And who’s waxing those eyebrows?

I don’t know. But did you also notice that Sarah Jessica Parker looks like a horse? What’s up with that?

– One L

“Coffee shops and banks have started taping flowers on their pens so people don’t steal them. And now I just own a really cool pen with a flower on it.”

3 thoughts on “The Bieber Effect

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