Hayley Williams of Paramore
It was circa 2007. I was at home on MySpace and I heard this really awesome song on someone’s profile. After doing some digging, I found that it was Pressure by Paramore.
But, even more exciting than the kick-ass song was the fact that the lead singer—Hayley Williams—somewhat resembled me with her fiery red hair.
Back in middle school, I remember a popular girl trying to convince me to dye my hair black. I remember being called ‘firecrotch’ by random high schoolers who thought they were being edgy.
So seeing this super cool rockstar of a woman with varying shades of red hair throughout the Paramore music videos (the deep red of Pressure, the bright orange of Misery Business, and the strawberry blonde that looked most like my hair in That’s What You Get), meant a lot for my self-confidence.
I would bring printed-out pictures of Hayley to the hair salon to show them how I wanted my hair cut. I would straighten my hair daily and relish in the compliment I would get every so often of ‘You look like the girl from Paramore!’
But more even than finding hair inspiration and a style guru, I found music that really spoke to me. Music that evolved with me as I grew.
There are songs in each Paramore album that I could dedicate to different periods of my life. I hung onto Paramore lyrics as a source of hope and comfort. Those songs were like a giant, comforting hug during my darkest times.
When Paramore’s sound completely changed upon the release of their 4th self-titled album in 2013, I was bummed at first. Who likes change, really? But then those songs grew on me. And it turns out, I really needed songs like Now, Ain’t It Fun, and Grow Up during that time in 2013, when I was recovering from a really bad breakup. In fact, in December of 2013 I even got a line from Now tattooed on my arm—Lost the battle, win the war. It serves as a reminder to me that even when I feel hopeless or things aren’t going my way, I can still come out on top at the end.
Then last year, Paramore released their fifth album, After Laughter. It was another huge shift in sound, but again, it ended up being just what I needed during this period of my life.
Since the release of After Laughter, I started thinking more about my affection for Hayley Williams. In my teens, I practically wanted to be her. I would watch Paramore music videos, live shows, and interviews simply because I really liked looking at her. Back in the day, I would jump around my bedroom pretending I was her on stage, even emulating the body language and movements she’d make in the music videos.
I actually only came out as bi this year. Since I’d only been in relationships and had sexual experiences with male-identifying individuals, I felt like I couldn’t claim the term. I feared being told I was only saying this for attention, that it was a phase. Or, even worse, how could I know if I had never been with another woman?
So I would toy with other labels, like heteroflexible. Then I realized that at the end of the day, even terms like that would fall under the umbrella of bisexuality. So I finally said it out loud, online, to my mom, to my partner, to my friends. I wanted to shout it from the rooftops.
Looking back, it’s pretty obvious that my fondness for Hayley was an attraction of sorts. I wanted to be her, wanted her as my mentor and friend, but yeah… I wanted to make out with her, too. She was my ‘girl crush,’ as I would tell people back then—before I was out.
To this day, Paramore is still my favorite band. Just the other day, I bought tickets to their June show in Brooklyn. And, like the old days, I jumped around my apartment singing along to Paramore music videos.