How Harry Styles is killing negativity with kindness


Kindness is a broad word. Webster defines the noun as “the quality or state of being kind,” which subsequently transcribes to an adjective “of a sympathetic or helpful nature.” To some, it is buying a hungry child a meal, to others it’s as simple as a tender smile to brighten a bad day. While pessimists will warn you to be wary of phonies, optimists stubbornly stand by the idea that every person, no matter their reputation, have some amount of kindness in their heart.


Harry Styles is one of those optimists.


The acclaimed X-Factor contestant turned boy band heartbreaker has blossomed into a philosopher of modern proportions since One Direction’s 2015 breakup (hiatus, for all us believers out there). In the span of his solo career, Styles has toured the world with his debut album and merchandise, all containing the same phrase—“Treat People With Kindness”. On the basis of promoting positivity in a world drained of it, Styles ended every show of his 2018 world tour with the tagline, hoping to inspire his young adult audience.


For years, Styles’ personality has been buried beneath misleading headlines and rumored arrogance, as he was painted as the player of One Direction. Since the band’s separation, however, he has proven to be anything but, focusing on what his music and image promotes rather than the physical benefits a rocker lifestyle. Even though Styles remains a relative newcomer to the solo scene, he has already become an icon of the generation—his outward support of women and the LGBTQ community has branded him a true modern man.


With his trademark “Treat People With Kindness” mentality, he not only encourages benevolence, but the belief that everyone—no matter race, gender or sexual orientation—is deserving of compassion and humanity. His strong stance on equality for all makes him more than a former boy-band member turned solo singer—he is an activist, an influencer and an inspiration to those who are marginalized. By utilizing his platform, Styles’ audience has grown to idolize him for not only the value of his artistry, but for the values he represents as a person.


Similar to Queen’s Freddie Mercury and David Bowie, Styles has strayed from the stereotypical portrayal of a male artist and instead flowered into truly bohemian creator, advocating for acceptance, equality and individuality within the world. An avid fan of Gucci, Styles’ eccentric taste and embroidered clothing even endorses his trademark compassion— the phrase “Treat People With Kindness” was stitched into his suit jacket for every performance on tour. By literally wearing the mantra on his sleeve, he reminds himself of the advice before dishing it out, living his truth wholeheartedly— a truth revolving around the intrinsic kindness of the human heart.


So yes, Webster’s description of kindness through sympathy and aid rings true. To fellow writer Samantha Cherveny, kindness is found in Stephen King and coffee cups, while Nick Sack (my definition of a kind soul) could brighten anyone’s day with his warm smile. To Styles, kindness is all these and more—the act can be just as individualized as it can be generalized. No matter its characterization, Styles firmly believes in changing the world through thoughtfulness, through simple acts of genuineness and through the idea that negativity can truly be killed with kindness.