• Nicole Delp

BTS and Their “Love Yourself” Message

You’ve shown me I have reasons I should love myself (oh) I’ll answer with my breath, my path The me of yesterday, the me of today, the me of tomorrow (woah) (I’m learning how to love myself) With no exceptions, it’s all me - BTS, “Answer: Love Myself” The concept of self-love has often been linked to self-care and mental health. However, over the last four years, it’s also been associated with something else: seven member K-pop group BTS. BTS emerged from a small entertainment company in South Korea called Big Hit Entertainment and weren’t expected to last long. Debuting in 2013, the group comprises leader/producer/rapper RM (Kim Namjoon), vocalist Jin (Kim Seokjin), rapper/producer Suga (Min Yoongi), dance leader/rapper J-Hope (Jung Hoseok), lead vocalist/dancer Jimin, (Park Jimin), vocalist/dancer V (Kim Taehyung) and main vocalist/dancer Jungkook (Jeon Jungkook). BTS’ albums discuss topics that Korean teens experience, like relationships and mental health. Their fanbase, referred to as ARMY (Adorable Representative M.C. for Youth), has grown with each passing year and continues to find comfort within the group’s lyrics. Fast forward to the present day, and the seven rookies are now the biggest band on the planet. Among their honors are their appearance at the 2018 UN General Assembly for their UNICEF campaign, as well as being the first Korean act to perform on SNL and to get nominated for a Grammy. Through their “LOVE MYSELF” campaign, which originated in 2017 with a three-album series, BTS has also spread a message of safe-care to people of vastly different ages and backgrounds. The band teaches listeners how to learn to love yourself first, flaws and all, before anything else. The message became so influential that BTS partnered with UNICEF’s “End Violence” program to expand the campaign, which has since raised millions of dollars to help end violence among children and teens. Longtime fan Naomi Desai feels that BTS’ music and message is particularly impactful. “While most celebrities have causes that they care about, a lot of them stop after they mention it in an acceptance speech or post about it on social media,” Desai said. “BTS doesn’t. They know that they have a huge following and can reach millions of people worldwide through their music.” When she started college this past year, Desai, like so many in the world, struggled to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic. “During a time like this…[BTS’] ‘LOVE MYSELF’ message is extremely relevant,” she said. “They’ve been a great source of joy in my life, because their music is a constant reminder that I’m not alone, and that it’s still important to put your all into everything you do.” BTS has also helped me through some tough times. Their music made me realize that I wasn’t a nobody when I was a freshman, and gave me reassurance during my parents’ separation that there wasn’t anything wrong with me. In a time when depression and other mental illnesses among young adults is common, BTS’ music helps many others to move past dark times, too. “I think a big part of why people of various age groups and backgrounds have a deep connection with BTS is because of how open they are about mental health,” Desai said. “I’m in a BTS Facebook group with people who are in their 30s-50s, and when [their new album] ‘Be’ came out, we all found comfort in it because, despite our differences, [we were] all struggling during this pandemic. Having an album that openly discussed the struggle of this time was a huge reassurance that [I wasn’t] the only one finding it hard to manage.” Although they sing in Korean, BTS still conveys their message to all people. This success comes from how much passion the band puts into their music and performances. Even if someone doesn't want to look up the translated lyrics, they’re still able to discern the feelings being portrayed through the music’s composition and emotion. Because BTS cares so much about the “Love Yourself” message, they can communicate it through their music and help those who are struggling. The more you learn about BTS, their intricate performances and the messages central to their songs, the more it makes sense why millions of people worldwide love them so much. As Desai put it, “They know the whole world is watching. Because of that, [BTS] has no choice but [to be] open about this struggle.” - Art by Naomi Desai