On Nov. 13 2020, Harry Styles made history by becoming the first man to ever appear on the cover of Vogue solo. While this was an incredible win not only for Styles, but for Vogue as well, many people across America were not having it. And it wasn’t because Styles was on the cover alone. It’s because on the cover, he’s wearing a dress.
Styles is no stranger to breaking gender roles and stereotypes. Earlier this year, the singer posed for Beauty Papers, a magazine based out of London. In one of the images from the shoot, Styles is shown wearing lipstick and fishnet stockings, and in another, a full face of makeup.
Styles has shown time and time again that is just himself, and that he pays no regard to gender roles and stereotypes, especially when it comes to how he dresses.
“What women wear. What men wear. For me it’s not a question of that. If I see a nice shirt and get told, ‘But it’s for ladies.’ I think: ‘Okaaaay? Doesn’t make me want to wear it less though.’ I think the moment you feel more comfortable with yourself, it all becomes a lot easier,” he told The Guardian.
However, many people don’t agree with the progressive way Styles views fashion and life in general. He’s been mocked and criticized in the past, but the Vogue shoot brought on a new wave of disapproval.
A bitter Candace Owens for instance, quote tweeted Vogue’s announcement of Styles' shoot, saying, “There is no society that can survive without strong men. The East knows this. In the west, the steady feminization of our men at the same time that Marxism is being taught to our children is not a coincidence. It is an outright attack. Bring back manly men.”
She went even further, saying in another tweet that, “Stable men do not wear ball gowns.”
These quotes beg the question: what exactly is “manly? What makes a man masculine versus feminine? Why is alleged “femininity” such a bad thing?
The answer is simple; it’s all completely irrelevant. The idea that men and women are supposed to act and dress a certain way specific to their gender is an outdated idea, and an intolerable one at that.
Clothing doesn't have a gender. It’s literally articles of fabric stitched together. Trying to assign a gender to literal pieces of fabric, then claiming that they mean something more about the wearer’s personality or mental stability is ridiculous and misogynistic, and to be quite honest, begs the sanity of the one claiming such.
And despite the fact that the majority of people these days have come to the realization that gender is a societal construct and really plays no relevance in day-to-day life, — especially when it comes to fashion — there’s still people out there like Owens, who, because of most likely internalized self-hatred, feel the need to hate on others for being exactly who they are.
So, my question to Candace Owens would be, “If masculinity is anything, is it not a man being 100% comfortable in his own skin and not afraid of what anyone has to say? Do you truly believe it’s more ‘masculine’ and respectable for a man to fear wearing a dress because he might come off as ‘feminine’ or ‘gay?’”
There’s a clear answer here.
It’s also clear that Owens has some form of internalized misogyny that is tricking her into believing that “femininity” is bad. Hopefully one day she can get over that and be true to herself, as well as less bitter towards the world, because as Styles put it, “I think the moment you feel more comfortable with yourself, it all becomes a lot easier.”
The fact of the matter is, Harry Styles made history posing in a dress for the cover of Vogue. He showed young people everywhere that it’s okay to be exactly who you are and dress exactly how you want to dress, no matter what other people may think or say. As one of the biggest male celebrities currently, I don’t see how anyone could view what Styles is showing young people as anything but admirable.