Why One Direction’s ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ Video Matters 3 Years Later

'WMYB' was the beginning of a fandom that still runs strong.

Three years ago today (August 19), One Direction unveiled their boyband-iest video possible: their first video, “What Makes You Beautiful.” With montages of the boys on a road trip in a throwback van, running around on a beach fully clothed (in matching white ensembles of varying styles) and that girl Madison, whose hair flapped around in the sea-salty air, “What Makes You Beautiful” is iconic 1D — right down to the extreme bopping. Boy, did they love to bop.

I remember seeing the video surface on Tumblr three years ago, with captions like “And just like that, I’m a One Direction fan.” The term “directioner” was just being born. Shortly after the video emmerged, fan accounts sprung up like ice cream trucks near a playground. One Direction had arrived, and we all wanted a taste.

Some of my favorite parts? The pointing, the running from the waves, Liam’s luscious hair, the never-ending smiles (seriously, these dudes love to smile), and Niall establishing himself as the goofiest of the group. The guys were little puppy dogs, and after a complete four years in the fandom, we can look back on their baby faces and bottomless adrenaline and reminisce on how five boys from the U.K. could win over our hearts in the simplest way possible — by just singing on the beach.

As the perfect boy band, they were wholesome, not scandalous; easygoing, not brats; smiley, not moody. They told us “You don’t know you’re beautiful, that’s what makes you beautiful.” They zeroed in on our insecurities and urged us to rethink them. It was a song that induced swooning along with a self-esteem boost. “What Makes You Beautiful” was everything teens needed at the time, and One Direction just made you feel good about yourself.

While the guys are prepping their fourth album now, you’ll never see as much energy as you did in the “WMYB” video. This was their first shot, proving that they could be more to the world than just third-place contestants on a reality singing show.

In their most recent video for “You and I,” 1D returned to the shore, strolling down a pier in wool sweaters and a gray sky overhead. But they’re older now — they’re taking it slower and getting increasingly sincere. There are no smiles in the “You and I” video, but that’s OK. They’ve already got our attention, and now we have to hear what they’ve got to say.

What’s your favorite memory from “What Makes You Beautiful”? Let us know in the comments!

Senior Swiftie Reporter