This summer, Courtney and Jorie are planning to get matching tattoos. A pair of 22-year-olds from Texas, the two met a few years ago at a concert, bonded over their love of the same bands, and have been best friends ever since. These days they go to shows together about three times a week.
The tattoos will commemorate their friendship — but they also carry a much deeper meaning, even though at first glance they’re just a pair of cute little birds. In fact, here they are as seen on one incredibly famous chest: that of One Direction band member Harry Styles.
Sometimes called Haz, Styles is the perpetually tousled hunky one, often inaccurately portrayed as the band’s lead singer mainly by virtue of being deemed the hottest. (One Direction’s other contender for “hottest,” Zayn Malik, famously left the band in 2015 and recently released a record-breaking solo album.) Styles has covered his body with tattoos, but this one — at least to a large subsection of One Direction fans — has special significance.
“Jorie is getting what has been deemed the ‘Harry’ one and I am getting the one deemed ‘Louis,'” Courtney tells Vox, “due to me calling her Tommo and her calling me Haz.”
Courtney is referring to the slight differences in the two birds as they appear below Styles’s collarbone. Look closely at the photo above: The bird on the right is slightly larger than the bird on the left, and if you squint, you’ll notice it also has a straighter, slantier hood marking where its eyebrow might be.
For millions of Directioners, these two little birds are deeply symbolic. According to their theory, the bird on the right, the larger one, represents Styles. The smaller bird on the left represents his fellow band member Louis Tomlinson (sometimes called Tommo). The birds’ size difference is said to represent the size difference between Styles and Tomlinson — and also, doesn’t the bird on the right clearly have Styles’s slanted eyebrows?
To fans like Courtney and Jorie, Styles’s bird tattoo is crucial evidence in favor of one of the internet’s most fascinating and convoluted conspiracy theories: the widespread belief among One Direction fans that Styles and Tomlinson are in love with each other.