Harry Styles controversial Vogue cover

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Styles posing for Vogue. Credit: Tyler Mitchell/Vogue

Loren Savage, Writer

In mid-November, it was announced that British singer, Harry Styles, would be on the December cover of Vogue magazine. Styles is the first man to be solo on the cover of US Vogue. Personally, I was very excited about this. Usually, I am not super excited about my favorite celebrities being on magazine covers, but like many others this time was different. The announcement sent people across the country searching for this particular cover. I myself recently got my hands on a copy, but it took several days of searching and lots of phone calls to businesses in the area.

He appears on the cover in a blue Gucci dress, which angered many. Candace Owens, a right-wing political activist, took to Twitter to say, “Bring back manly men.”

Owens’ statement caused an uproar on the internet. People on every platform began giving their opinions on his dress. In my opinion, I think that Styles looks incredible in that dress. When I tell you I was speechless when I saw the pictures for the first time, I am not lying. I have heard many right-wing people, especially women, say that his dress “doesn’t do it for them”. Well, I can assure you that Styles did not put that dress on to “do it for you”.

Styles did not make any comments about the criticisms until the morning of December 2nd, about two weeks after Owens’ original statement. On Instagram, Styles posted a picture of himself wearing a blue suit with ruffles captioned, “Bring back manly men.¨ Before Styles broke his silence, many celebrities came to his defense.

Olivia Wilde, actress and director, came to the singer’s defense by replying to Owens’ tweet saying, “You’re pathetic.”

Jameela Jamil, actress, took to Twitter to say, “Harry Styles is plenty manly, because manly is whatever you want it to be, not what some insecure, toxic, woman-hating, homophobic [people] decided it was hundreds of years ago.”

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said, “It looks wonderful…”

Owens again took to Twitter to say, “Since I’m trending I’d like to clarify what I meant when I said ‘bring back manly men, I meant: Bring back manly men. Terms like ‘toxic masculinity,’ were created by toxic females. Real women don’t do fake feminism. Sorry I’m not sorry.”

Styles hasn’t made any more public statements, though he did explain his fashion sense in his Vogue article.

“Clothes are there to have fun with and experiment with and play with. What’s really exciting is that all of these lines are just kind of crumbling away. When you take away ‘There’s clothes for men and there’s clothes for women,’ once you remove any barriers, obviously you open up the arena in which you can play,” said Styles, “I’ll go in shops sometimes, and I just find myself looking at the women’s clothes thinking they’re amazing. It’s like anything—anytime you’re putting barriers up in your own life, you’re just limiting yourself.”

Gender expression is evolving as society becomes more accepting. It is so important for people in the public eye to express their true selves, especially men. There are tons of strong women going against gender norms, and it is equally as important for men to do them the same.

While Styles’ fashion choices have inspired many people to play with their own expression, he is not the first celebrity to play with their gender expression. Actor, Billy Porter, is often seen in dresses on red carpets.

“We’ve moved beyond the idea that women wearing pants is a problem. Women wearing pants is powerful, it’s strong, everybody accepts it, and it’s associated with the patriarchy, it’s associated with being male,” said Porter in an interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. “The minute a man puts on a dress it’s disgusting, so what are you saying? Men are strong, women are disgusting? I’m not doing that anymore. I’m done with that. I’m a man in a dress and if I feel like wearing a dress, I’m gonna wear one.”

Styles’ Vogue cover is a step in the right direction toward making it more acceptable for men to wear feminine clothing.

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