Bring Back Manly Men

Singer, song-writer, and music composer Harry Styles has once again blurred the lines of gender norms in fashion. Featured on the December cover of Vogue, Styles posed stylishly in a blue lace ball gown and became the first man to have a solo cover of American Vogue. Unfortunately, this picture sent conservatives into a fit, with many, including Candace Owens, calling him out for expanding his style from traditional men’s clothes. 

Styles has credited his flamboyant style to artists that he looked up to: Prince, David Bowie, Elvis, Freddie Mercury and Elton John, all of whom have similarly challenged stereotypical feminine and masculine clothing during their careers. This same message is emphasized in the Vogue article, where Styles opens up about expressing himself through fashion and rebelling against gender stereotypes. 

Styles is by no means the first artist to challenge these ideas, but he is one of the few mainstream artists to do so. However, there are some people who are more sensitive about exploring gender roles in society. 

Candace Owens, a conserative commentator, tweeted in response upon seeing a preview of Styles’ cover.

“There is no society that can survive without strong men… It is an outright attack. Bring back manly men.” 

Candace exemplifies toxic masculinity at it’s finest: choosing to replace the true definition of being a man with false stereotypes excluding traditionally feminine traits. Men do not have to fit the stereotype of a “manly man.” Men showing their feminine side does not make them any less of man, and neither does dressing masculine. Candace’s statement only attempts to bring down a man who has inspired so many people by not being afraid to express himself through different clothing. Harry Styles is able to put a dress on and feel absolutely no shame because he’s secure enough in his masculinity to do so. His masculinity is not threatened as he takes a step outside of the box, as there is no reason for it to be. 

In the article, Styles’ words further the idea that gender is simply a social construct: “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.” 

Clothes have no gender. How someone chooses to express themselves is no one’s business other than themselves. The support behind Styles’ cover is a sign of society’s progression away from the toxic idea of binary gender. While plenty of celebrities expressed their support for Styles online, there were many fans of Styles at Masuk ready to defend him as well. 

When asked what Styles’ cover meant to her, sophomore Sarah Catalano replied: “Harry’s Vogue issue shows that clothing doesn’t have a gender label and it’s supposed to be fun and expressive. I completely support him wearing stereotypical ‘feminine clothing’ and I don’t think that him wearing a dress makes him any less of a man. His fashion choices are nobody’s business but his own, and honestly he could wear a trash bag and still look good.” 

It is obvious that plenty of people did not mind if Styles wore a dress, supporting that anyone can wear anything.

The ideas of “femininity” and “masculinity” are completely irrelevant. The claim that men and women should and are expected to dress and act a certain way specific to their gender is an outdated and intolerable one. Clothes have no gender, and trying to convince anyone otherwise is ridiculous since clothes are literally pieces of fabric stitched together. It is evident that Candace has some form of internalized misogyny, and hopefully she can get over it soon. The fact is, Harry Styles made history by posing for that Vogue issue in a dress. He showed young people everywhere that it is okay to be exactly who you are and dress exactly how you want to, despite what other people think.

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