They say the fastest way to someone’s heart is through the ribs. And while this is technically true for everyone, the best way to my heart is through the most wonderful band to ever grace this planet, 5 Seconds of Summer.

Let me give you a run down on 5SOS, as they tend to be called. They got super popular during that 2014 Tumblr Girl Aesthetic Era. At the time, they were heavily associated with another band I adore, One Direction, because they opened for them. And thus, they were branded as a “boy band”, just like One Direction.

Let’s change the topic for a moment, and talk about me (the most important person ever) . I went through a massive “I’m not like other girls” phase, which, for those of you who don’t know, is the mindset that anything girly is “bad”. I didn’t like the color pink, I wouldn’t be caught dead in a skirt or dress, I didn’t touch make up because it was “fake”, and I only listened to “cool, underground music”, and none of that popular stuff that other girls like.

So how did I end up as the “I love the color pink, dresses are my favorite thing to wear, 5SOS is one of the greatest bands in history” person I am today? The answer is incredibly simple.  .

Let’s backtrack and talk about boy bands. One Direction was pivotal to 5 Seconds of Summer’s success, and how I got into them in the first place. Most people who are fans of 5SOS are also fans of One Direction. One Direction was labeled as a “boy band” because their management believed it was the easiest way to make them famous. They pushed One Direction into the faces of teen girls all over the world. You have five conventionally attractive guys, who have good chemistry, and are great singers and songwriters, so of course girls are gonna love it. And so, they got written off as just another thing that those silly, young girls like. What’s absolutely crazy about this is any type of fan behavior for any not “boy band” artist (i.e. camping out for a good spot in the pit, spending a lot of money on merch and/or tickets, watching a lot interviews, etc.) is labeled as “crazy fan behavior” for a “boy band” fan. The double standard for anything girls like is sickening !

I got to go see 5 Seconds of Summer in concert over the summer, and I was super excited. Not only was it a concert for a band that means a lot to me, but it was my first ever concert. When I told my friend about it and how I was super excited, she got really judgmental and asked, “Why are you so excited to go see them?” So, I stopped talking about it. A few months later, when I went to the concert with a different friend and she posted about going with me on social media, my judgmental friend got upset that I didn’t tell her I was going to see them. Except I did! However, because she shut me down almost immediately, I decided not to mention it again. A friend of mine got to go see Pitbull in concert a few months ago and he talked about it because he was excited. Not once did I make a face or try to make him feel bad about his interests, nor did any of our other friends. So why was it different for me, a girl, going to see my favorite artists?

I and so many others think 5SOS, One Direction, The Vamps , and so many other “boy bands” have great lyricism, great chemistry, and that they’re amazing at what they do. But still, no one takes them seriously! 5SOS have even commented on this themselves, saying it was hard to have a dominantly female fanbase because no one takes them or their music earnestly. Harry Styles, who is arguably the most successful member of One Direction since their split, and one of the most successful artists ever, has also said this exact thing. I get mocked by my family for liking his music. It’s humiliating to be made fun of for something I like, especially when it’s by someone who cares about me.

These same family members, whenever I talk about any boy ever, a celebrity I admire, a friend, the boy who sits next to me in math class, will always, always, always ask me if I think that he’s cute. Every one of my interests is somehow linked back in some way to boys.  I like fashion? I’m trying to look good for the boys. I like sports? I’m just trying to stand out for the boys. Even if I like something that’s not traditionally liked by girls, I’m apparently still doing it for male attention. Anything any girl ever likes must be reduced to one thing: boys, because all girls can be, especially teenage girls, are boy crazy.

Boy bands will never be taken seriously because of their predominantly female (teen) fanbase. People would prefer to call young girls crazy than actually admit that anything they like has substance because young girls are actually intelligent people who have good tastes.  Which is such a weird mindset to have because that’s how so many artists– The Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, to name a few, have become famous. Now they’re considered “classics” because people forgot that they were idols to teen girls, and they’re taken seriously because their fanbases have shifted to be mostly made of middle-aged men (who as we all know have the best and only valid opinions).  That’s why I never, ever refer to One Direction, 5SOS, or any band that fits the boy band stereotype as a “boy band”.  It’s a sexist label meant to reduce the bands to “not real artists”, and their fans to “crazed fans”. I am willing to bet actual money, cold hard cash, that in twenty maybe thirty years time, One Direction, 5SOS, The Vamps, Why Don’t We, NSYNC, and every single “boy band” of our time will become “classics” because people will forget that they were ever liked by young girls.

It’s mindsets like these that made me hate being a girl, that made me so desperate to be something I’m not. Women and girls are not taken seriously. Anything they like is not taken seriously and I’m sick of it. I took charge of my life and decided to like what I wanted to because no matter what some jerk is gonna make me feel bad about myself. It’s okay to be like everyone else and it’s okay to be different. What’s not okay is changing yourself constantly to be something you’re not to fit in with society’s sexist idea of what a girl should be.