Zayn Malik's Tattoo of Perrie Edwards Lives in My Head Rent Free

Zayn's Tattoo for Ex Perrie Edwards Is Forever, Even If Their Relationship Wasn't

There was no better time or place to be a Directioner than on early 2010s Tumblr. One Direction had just blown up, all five members were still in the band, and they kept us fed with albums and fan service. Like many Directioners during the early days, I was protective of the five boys whenever they got into new relationships (admittedly not very girls’ girl behavior!). I spent too many late nights reading 1D fan-fiction to not believe that all five singers were secretly in love with me. Of course I was skeptical when I heard that my falsetto king Zayn Malik was dating Little Mix’s Perrie Edwards. 

But the more I learned about how they got together, the more it just made sense. They met during Edwards’ season of The X Factor UK in 2011 when Malik and the rest of One Direction performed on the show. He was a member of a boy band. She was a member of a girl group. It was a match made in pop heaven.

They didn’t share their relationship publicly until 2012. Their conscious coupling was first announced by the Daily Mail, whose paps captured photos of the pair riding around on a scooter. The print headline was “What makes you scootiful.

This is right around the time that 1D became an international sensation. As was the case with the other One Direction girlfriends, there was a lot of fan girl vitriol aimed toward Edwards. People called her a gold digger, a beard, and a clout chaser. I was disappointed to see my fellow stans be so nasty toward a woman who was simply living her life and making our idol so happy. 

Zayn's Tattoo for Ex Perrie Edwards Is Forever, Even If Their Relationship Wasn't

They kept a united front throughout the height of 1D’s fame. They took crispy, overfiltered, only-in-2013 style couple pics. She wore his jackets all the time. They got a dog together. That, in my 14-year-old eyes, was couple goals. 

Some people said that she did it all for fame, but I always believed that she was with Malik in spite of the fame. Most celebrities understand that their relationship will be under constant scrutiny, and the prospect of never-ending abuse can be a deal breaker. Stronger couples have faltered under the pressure, but not this one. I’ve always admired how strong Edwards was and how well she coped with the negative attention. It made me want to be just as tough as her, and it showed me that love could withstand the odds.

As their relationship progressed, Malik took some extreme measures to prove his love and commitment to her. Most notably, he got a tattoo of her face to symbolize that their relationship was for real. The tattoo itself was impeccably done, and it was huge, taking up the length of his bicep. No matter the size, getting a tattoo of your girlfriend of a year is truly bold behavior! They got engaged quickly after that. 

To me, that tattoo symbolized that Zerrie was forever. If there was anything in my adolescent life that I could rely on, it was this relationship and One Direction as a group. Whatever teen drama I was caught up in, whether it was getting my little heart broken by some sweaty boy or becoming overwhelmed by AP classes, I could easily escape reality, log on to Tumblr, listen to the latest 1D album and reblog cute Zerrie edits. I was eagerly anticipating their wedding. All was right in the world. 

Unfortunately, both of those security blankets went up in flames in 2015. Malik announced he was leaving One Direction. Soon after, he broke off his engagement with Edwards. It was the end of an era. He got his tattoo of her covered up. He distanced himself from 1D, saying he wouldn’t listen to their music. It became apparent that he was no longer one of our boys. He was his own man, leaving his boy band past and everything associated with it behind, including Edwards. In a sense, she was a stand in for all of us Directioners who felt hurt by the end. The fandom that I’d been a part of for years would never feel the same to me. I still follow all of the members’ individual careers, but reminiscing about their time as a group is like being in a perpetual state of post-concert depression. I can listen to their old catalogue and look at old tour photos all I want, but it will never be the same as those young, innocent days of all five performing together. I have grown up some, and tempered my wild fandom so as to never experience such disappointment again.

Now, Malik and Gigi Hadid — who began dating shortly after Zerrie’s split in 2015 — have had their first child. Edwards has been in a long-term relationship with soccer player Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain since 2016. As they say, nothing good lasts forever — not your favorite couple, not your favorite band, and not even a big tattoo of your ex-fiance. But at least we got a break up anthem out of it.

Breakups That Broke Us is a weekly column about the failed celebrity relationships that convinced us love is dead.

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