Caroline Goldstein
May 19, 2020 10:40 am
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According to a model who appeared in Harry Styles’ new “Watermelon Sugar” music video, the singer was really good about asking for consent before touching her and the other models on set—so good, in fact, that she called him “consent king.” On the one hand, it’s disheartening that we still live in a world in which a man asking a woman whether they want to be touched is an event worthy of celebration. On the other hand, we are always happy to have more reasons to love Harry Styles. So here we are!

Yesterday, May 18th, models Ephrata and Aalany McMahan went on Instagram Live to talk about their experiences on the set of the “Watermelon Sugar” video, which dropped the same day.

When the director told Styles to touch and “play with” her hair, Ephrata explained that the singer asked, “’Wait, wait, wait, pause—can I even touch your hair? Is that even okay?'”

In this case, Styles’ request for consent was probably twofold: One, to make sure Ephrata was comfortable being touched at all; and two, that, as a Black woman, she was comfortable with Styles touching her hair. Ephrata appreciated Styles’ consideration, telling McMahan, “I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s so nice. That was really sweet.'” Then she officially deemed Styles “consent king.” Just one more of the many things of which he is king.

McMahan confirmed that “he was very huge on the consent” and that asking for consent “became a huge thing” on set. Later on in the shoot, Ephrata said that she was told to kiss Styles on the cheek, so she made sure to check in with him that he was okay with this kind of physical contact. “I felt like I had to ask, too,” she told McMahan. “I was like, ‘Are you sure?’ and he was like, ‘Yes, go ahead!'”

Considering that the video is literally “dedicated to touching,” it makes sense that there’s a lot of that going on—and we’re happy to hear from Ephrata and McMahan that Styles helped make the experience “fun,” “comfortable,” and “natural” for the people being touched.

Again, it is troubling that a man asking for consent from a woman is the exception to the rule. But we hope that more men (and people in general) can take a cue from Styles here and ultimately become the new rule.