Lemme start off by saying that I’m no fan of girl groups. Nor boy bands. Nor any homogenised battalion with their own colour scheme and dance moves. Though I’m going to rant about a sneering take on Irish popstrel Una Healy, I must admit that haven’t heard a single song from her band, The Saturdays. I wouldn’t know The Saturdays if they’d been creeping into my lugs at night and crooning subliminal messages directly into my noggin. I’m not writing this from the perspective of an indignant fan, in other words. I’m an indignant twenty-nine year old Irishwoman, though, which gives me more than enough in common with my subject.
So yes, Una Healy is a gorgeous strawberry-blonde pop vocalist. Once a struggling singer-songwriter, she now makes up 20% of The Saturdays, and so is appropriately dolled-up and adorned with sparkly things. Last weekend’s Sunday Independent featured a piece by Niamh Horan, calling out Ms. Healy for being a bad role model and a drunken mess, basically because the writer has seen paparazzi images of Una looking rather worse for wear on a number of early-hours occasions. Her latest excursion resulted in her taking a tumble in front of waiting photographers, who naturally zoomed in and went all out.
Ms. Horan was most put-out by the whole thing.
…you’ve got to wonder what her parents must think. Not to mention her reserved country and Irish musician uncle Declan Nerney.
Indeed. Especially as Una was wearing a
… skirt up to her backside
… at the time, which I would have thought was probably her lot in life, being a member of a girl group. And hey, it’s not like she was out there wearing fishnets as trousers with a gigantic teabag on her head. Though if she was, we’d probably swoon and call it art, eh, Lady Gaga?
I was rightly riled by Horan’s attack on Healy. Whatever you may think about booze culture in the UK and Ireland, or about wimminfolk wearing minidresses in January, what’s righteous about singling out a grown woman celebrating a friend’s birthday and haughtily hypothesising how her poor Mammy must feel about her partying ways? It’s not as if Healy threw up on the pavement, dodged her taxi fare, or lamped a nightclub toilet attendent. She had a few drinks, tripped over her own feet, and looked less than graceful getting into a taxi. I doubt any manner of uncle would disown her for that … although it’s certainly an evocative image, Declan Nerney weeping into the Sunday newspapers whilst clutching his Nano Nagle action figures; “My kingdom for a shapeless tunic!”
Obviously, we have to advocate taking responsibility for one’s own actions, especially when one is nearly thirty, in good health, and financially independent. Ms. Healy chose to become a pop star, and so invited a certain amount of public attention down on her head. But that doesn’t mean that she must be held accountable for every angle she is snapped from. That doesn’t mean that she must remain poised and coiffed and boring and blank-eyed, for fear she may appear off balance or chunky and so frighten impressionable tweens. In fact, the notion Horan seems to push here – that female celebrities should restrict themselves to a particular hem length and a particular bedtime, that they must be graceful above all else, and that they must never lose control – is rather too sinister to chance adopting as standard. Young fans striving towards unattainable perfection and constantly berating themselves when they fall short? What a depressing thought.
Personally, I wouldn’t advocate Una Healy as a role model, but it’s because Una’s an entertainer, not a neurosurgeon. If my nine-year-old comes home and tells me she wants to be in a girl group when she grows up, I’ll probably roll my eyes and say something disparaging about the cost of fake eyelashes. That wouldn’t be half as disturbing as her coming home and claiming she wants a career as a dewy-eyed mannequin, Stepford-elegant with a silver ramrod up her jumper, though. Una Healy’s antics may well stop upsetting Niamh Horan when Niamh Horan accepts that Una Healy’s not an international ambassador. She’s a young, pretty popstar. Surely, then, she can wear her skirts as short as she damn well pleases?