It’s 2001, I’m 12, in sixth grade and have a crush on David because we can have a good laugh together and he looks cute doing it. But then he laughs rather unnaturally when I admit that he has a crush, because he is more into Christina Aguilera and girls who look remotely like her, i.e. long blonde hair, flat stomach, pushed breasts, long legs, the classic -Program. I notice that it is obviously not about laughing together, but that the body is the most important thing. Another body. 20 years later, David is right-wing Dynamo Dresden hool. And I, the idiot, gave him the Maxi from “Lady Marmalade”. Lost cause.
At 12 none of us actually have aguilera-like body shapes, but you can fool them: the most important utensil is the hipster. This creates something that we then consider feminine: skin and “hips”. The visible is also tanned in the solarium, some also stuff their bras so that the picture fits. Soon one or the other actually grows some curves here and there. My hips and buttocks are actually too much for my hipsters. People have opinions about everything we have or what we lack. Not my responsibility.
From there it happens: I am made into a woman. I don’t realize that, I’m surprised myself, maybe I would have preferred something else, most definitely. I actually want to be me for a while longer. Jumping around, building stalls, being loud, being funny, burping, being dirty, riding a bike. But the men on the street have plans for me, suggestions for me. And the men in the first internet chat rooms. And the commercials and the series. In addition, there is everything that we – made women – pass on to one another, what we have learned outside about “us” and demand from one another. Sexualization and devaluation are now our constant companions. We have to deliver now. Deliver to us. For more men’s attention. Your Power.
But it doesn’t fit and it still doesn’t. It is not sufficient. I am learning that the women’s stamp means to train for a lifetime how to do it correctly, this womanhood. “Bravo” & Co. knew exactly where to go, or where to go. Sometimes they reveal it to us subtly, sometimes very directly, sometimes contradicting it, but always very impressive. Britney has a tummy? Awkward! Christina shows her bottom? Sexy! J.Lo has the perfect body proportions, Anastacia is somehow “freaky” because she is also cropped, blonde and slim, but wears these glasses to go with it. And what is your favorite no-angel? Vote now! The teen pop life of the early 2000s is one single preparation for a casting. Soon you will appear before the jury, whether it is “Popstars” or “Are You Hot?” – very few will pass. I squint jealously at the boys who are allowed to wear wide baggies where the boxer shorts look out, but the rules for the gender-stamped are no less strict at secondary school than those in “Bravo”. Nothing fits. idontwannabeyouanymore.
What are the counter-drafts if you are not nurtured in left-wing centers but grow up in front of radio and TV? Neither was Avril Lavigne. The songs about boys and other stupid girls came across here and there in different colors at most. Of course a lot was great, of course Christina and Britney and Beyoncé and Avril were great. But identifying, making friends on an equal footing with them was difficult to imagine. They knew all these female codes that some of us just didn’t want to learn. In 2001, the best musical friend I would have needed back then was born far too late. Damn Billie Eilish.
You shouldn’t romanticize too much, you shouldn’t project too much into anything, you shouldn’t regret anything and so on, but I’ll say it as it is, hand on my heart, straightforward and bet 70 marks in newspaper payment money: My youth and those of many others would have been better if instead of hipsters there had been Billie Eilish in our lives. If we had seen that bodies didn’t have to be small and delicate, didn’t have to be pressed in, if we had seen that we didn’t have to disappear behind bars and in thongs, if we had had a role model who would have shown us that we had space allowed to take, allowed to be bulky, “unfavorable” (garbage word), colorful, shrill, legs apart, not always pleasing. If someone had shown us in such a prominent position: You can also have fun with friends and siblings and not only with boys, you can tell your own stories, you can take yourself and your psychological issues seriously. But Billie also teaches: Don’t be too strict with yourself, focus on what is important, look left and right. So I’ll let it go now. Cause I’m in love with my future.
But fuck you, hipsters.
This text first appeared in the 08/2021 issue of Musikexpress. Paula Irmschler’s pop column texts for musikexpress.de can be found here.