How One Direction Officially Made Me Feel Like An Old Person

One Direction makes me feel old.

It’s not that I don’t “get” it. Oh, I get it.

I get the charm of a British accent. I get the infectious beats of their songs and the way their soaring harmonies can make a girl feel weak in the knees. I know the affect that a dimpled smile and rumpled hair can have on a lonely girl’s heart.

What I don’t get is why there’s so much swooning over men who look like little boys.

I’m sorry, but one of the primary aims of a boy band is to be sexually attractive. There’s nothing sexually attractive about Dickensian street urchins. The boys in the group seriously look like they should be extras in a Hallmark channel adaptation of Oliver Twist. They’re impoverished orphans in tight trousers who need haircuts and aid from child employment laws.

I keep wanting to invite them into my home so I can give them cookies and lemonade. They can regale me with stories about the middle school playground and I can giggle and assure them that the girls will be after them when they’re older. The girls are not supposed to be after them now.

You can imagine my surprise when I discovered that the amiable lads of One Direction are not in fact, twelve years old, but in their late teens and early twenties. I was in college when I was that age. I was sneaking $20 under my Boston University Student ID to a bouncer to get into nightclubs. I had opinions on the Peloponesian War. I knew about credit card debt and how to pay it off every month.

So, they’re not children, but they inexplicably look like children to me.

“I don’t get it,” I mentioned to my friend recently over cocktails. “Do they look like children to me because they all really do look like Dickensian street urchins or am I finally just really old?”

“I think it’s a little bit of both.”

I refused to accept that I was old, so I pressed forward.

“Like *NSYNC…when *NSYNC was around, they were around that age, and they looked “boyish”, but they were also styled like young men. Men!! Right? Men!!”

“I think it’s a little bit of both.”

“They look like children!!!! THEY LOOK LIKE CHILDREN!!! Did Justin Timberlake look like a child when he was in *NSYNC? I mean, a teenager, yes, but a child?? He had defined shoulders like a man!”

“Meghan, it’s both. You’re just old now. Deal with it!”

And then I crossed my arms and pouted and began to mourn the passing of my youth.

Are you guys going to have a slumber party and watch The Goonies? That's cool. Just so long as you've finished your Algebra homework.

It’s close to impossible for me to fathom that I might be considered “old”. I’m the baby in my family by about fourteen years (meaning my sisters are all 17-14 years older than me), I was the youngest in my class in grade school and most of my best friends are older. I’ve always been the youngest in my group and it’s been hard in life to shake that “baby sister” mentality.

I seriously don’t even look old. When I nervously met Mindy Kaling at her book signing last Fall, I told her that I do comedy and she sweetly asked, “Oh! What school do you go to? Are you at NYU?” And I was like, “Stop it, Mindy! You’re so nice and sweet and funny! I’m 26. I have a day job and a 401(k) plan. Ahhh!” Of course, I didn’t say anything quite so articulate. I said something in a mumured gurgle and then Mindy Kaling told me I looked 19. My point is that even the eternally girlish Mindy Kaling thinks I’m fresh and young, so I’ve never had any reason to think of myself as anything but a youth.

That is, until I saw other grown women fawn over the boys in One Direction and wanted to cringe.

I completely understand why my dear tween friend Ruby Karp is in love with these boys. She’s young and they’re young. They’re singing about romance, but are too tightly choreographed by their managers to be legitimately sexually threatening. And yes, as I’ve admitted, their songs are catchy and they have great hair.

However, when grown women start discussing the various grown women things they want to do these lads, I want to shake them and say, “Maybe you don’t want to make out with them. Maybe you just want to adopt them because you’re nesting.”


Yes, I know, for the umpteenth time, that they’re not children, but they are styled like children. That I think is what I don’t understand the most. Are we so youth obsessed in our culture that young men who look like young boys are more attractive to women now than young men who look and behave like grown men? Give me Ron Swanson any day over Harry Styles. I mean, Ron Swanson can legally buy me a drink and he would probably make that drink a fine whiskey.

So, perhaps I am old now. I’m so old because I’d rather a grown man buy me a whiskey than listen to a skinny kid hum about how beautiful I am because I don’t know I’m beautiful. (Also, what’s that? Like, if you want to get with a cute boy first you have to have low self-esteem? I quibble…)

In conclusion, maybe I’m just old, but seriously, they look like children. Right? CHILDREN!!!

–Sincerely, an Old.

Featured image via Shuttershock, text image via

  • Sheba Arifullah

    I agree, they do look 12!!!! I’m a teacher, so all the girls in the school are obsessed with One Direction. They keep asking me if I like them too, and all I can say is that I have only heard the one song, and it’s catchy; that’s about it (though I feel guilty about liking it because I’m older). I didn’t realize they were in their late teens until I read your post!

    Anyway, I totally agree, they look like kids, and being 29, it would be weird if I said I thought they were attractive or anything else.

  • Sarah Elkotbeid

    Nah, they don’t look 12. I’m around their age and just about every other teen boy their age that I know looks like they do. You’re just old.

    • Meghan O’Keefe

      Thank you. I’m working on my quilt.

  • Michael Reo

    its so weird either your too sexual or your too grandpa looking, just do you One Direction! Your awesome!

    • Meghan O’Keefe

      This is good advice for One Direction and for women everywhere.

  • Sarah Dalton

    You are not alone! I am 22 and when I watched their video I immediately texted my friend lamenting the fact that we are now officially old… What happened?!? I felt sad about it for about… a day, then I decided there was no option but to embrace them (because that song is so darn catchyyyyyy) haha. However, that embrace is more of a little-brother/cousin-embrace than a where-is-the-nearest-dark-corner-embrace. :)

  • Ella Preuss

    Sarah, she’s 26, not 50. That’s not old. And yes, to me they look like tweens, I thought they were around 16-17. I just turned 20 and everyone’s telling me that I’m “OLDER”, and that I need to start thinking like a grown up. Come on, I do know how to pay my taxes and how to read my debit card’s balance, but that doesn’t mean that I have to give up things I like because people think they’re for children. I have a Harry Potter tattoo, and I carry it proudly. You’re only “old”, when you think of yourself like that.

  • Amy Atkins Contreras

    Yeah, see, I did a photo compare with a picture I had blown up on my wall when I was 14 of the Backstreet Boys (My sister worked at Sears when they were promoting their tour, she took home the displays for me. Winster.) and…even Nick at least looked LEGAL back in the day ;D My younger brothers are 18 and 20 now, respectively, and neither of them or their scores of friends who tramp through my parents’ house have styled themselves that young since middle school. They look like young men, even the ones in the 20 yr old’s band. Yeah, I’m -older- in my -tastes- now, but it’s still notably different.

    …though, let’s be honest, Taylor Hanson looked 12 too and I wanted to lick ‘im. *cough* BUT, I was also 12 XD

  • Katie Hallahan

    I own the long-sleeved version of that gray-with-thin-blue-stripes shirt. I got it at Ann Taylor. WHY DO I SHOP AT THE SAME PLACE AS THESE KIDS? Actually, reverse that question.

    • Meghan O’Keefe

      It’s because you have style, Kater. It’s because you have style.

  • June Vanisa

    They look young but I don’t think 12 year olds wear suspenders, blazers, and bowties. A good chunk of youngins probably also don’t wear khakis nearly as much as these boys. They’re young, yes, but I don’t think they’re so young that it should be this concerning. Reminder, we live in a generation where pretty guys also make the girls go crazy (don’t tell me Zac Efron and Robert Pattinson aren’t pretty). It’s uncomfortable when older women start detailing the sexual thing they want to do to the guys in One Direction, but I think that might make me uncomfortable in regards to most anyone. And as a fan who has watched their interviews and such, I can tell you the stuff that comes out of their mouths make you forget how young they are – they’re fully taking advantage of the panty throwing. I don’t think you’re old. I just don’t think you get it.

  • Kaitlyn Halsema

    okay i AM 19 and i think they look like little kids. i was shocked when i found out they’re my age!

  • Giovanna Mendes

    I agree with you, the first time I heard about them i thought they were like13, 14 because they looked like my brother(he’s 14 but looks like he’s 12). Maybe it’s not because you’re old (26 is not old for me) it’s only that you prefer grown men or young men that look like a grown one. And I’m 17! That doesn’t make me feel old at all, because they do look like children!

  • Jenna Dimler

    I am totally in agreement with this article! If they were my son and I came home from dinner I would ask where the babysitter went so I could pay her! CHILDREN I TELL YOU! CHILDREN!!! hehehe ok maybe they don’t look that young, but you get my point 😛

  • Catrin Morgan

    I couldn’t agree more! They and Justin Beiber look like 12 years olds and I don’t care if that makes me old!! lol

  • Charlotte Eleanor Earney

    Don’t worry! I’m 18, which is their kind of age and I don’t think they’re sexually attractive in the slightest. I think what it is is that they’re aimed at more 11-16 year olds. It does really creep me out when people in their 20’s find them attractive though. That’s just sort of wrong. Or even Caroline Flack. Ew.

  • Annika Lee

    The 1D boys do look very young. It’s also hard to believe that Bieber is 18. Am I supposed to believe these are college-aged men? cringe. And your point about Ron Swanson. 1000000 points for you! Obviously this is Nick Offerman, not Ron Swanson, but this is him at 18

  • Kayla Foley

    As a 20 year old, even I think these guys look young. They look like they should be in high school. Nevermind my negative bias, due to the fact that at least one of their songs promotes poor self image.

  • Jen Shoun

    Seriously, they look 12. The only acceptable current boyband in my opinion is The Wanted. At least they look like legal dudes and don’t dance (which I find refreshing). Not that I would know. (shit)

  • Alexis Ulrich

    I’m 17 and can’t even pretend to be attracted to these boys… just sayin… They look younger than Justin Bieber. In fact, I think this is England’s revenge for the Bieber Fever. I thought the one song I’ve heard from them was copying Bruno Mars. I don’t understand this new 1D hysteria that has taken over every conversation, especially on the internet (my Tumblr dash is spammed with 1D! No me gusta.)

    • Catherine Green

      This new hysteria, is all either fake fans (directionators, we cal them), or dedicated fans, who actually like them, because of their personalities. I was never a “beleiber” ( I can’t type that without laughing) because he didn’t really have any sort of personality, but all the 1D boys have distinct personalities that we love, we’ve watched all the interviews since the x factor and we like them because they’re awesome, hilarious, and so on. I’m sorry for taking this out on you, but I felt I had to get it out there. (I’m in eighth grade, by the way, so maybe I can’t really relate to you. But I feel like I have to defend directioners on this site).

  • Nadia Johnson

    I’m 20. I’m their age. And I would still feel like a pedophile if I hooked up with any of them. You’re not old, they just look like they’re six.

  • Aoife Munro

    I’m 21 and these guys look young to me, I’m pretty sure some of them are the same age as me. I genuinely do not understand their appeal, I also dislike the suggestion that girls have to have poor self image so one of these guys can swoop in and remind them how beautiful they are ~on the inside. What happened to “girl power” in popular music? It’s gone completely full circle and is just getting a bit pathetic; even the few female artists that are in the charts seem to sing about broken hearts and rubbish like that (although I will just say Adele does it in a positive and moving way a la Someone Like You). Pah! Rant over!

  • Lauren Saville

    On the topic of feeling old, I realized today that the undergrad’s I TA probably never saw a cassette tape, or maybe even had a discman, both things that defined my youth, oh being in your late 20’s!

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