Harry Styles and the Fight Against Toxic Masculinity

The 2020 December issue of Vogue Magazine features singer-songwriter Harry Styles in a Gucci-designed, periwinkle blue ball gown. In recent years, Styles’ unique floral suits and lace blouses have caught the attention of many, but this recent fashion statement has taken the media by storm. 

The idea of men in gowns contradicts the common view of masculinity, and social media erupted with the debate of whether Styles’ Vogue cover controversy is the beginning of a new wave of men’s fashion. 

“I think that Harry, and anyone, should be able to wear whatever they want without being judged. It’s not the 1920s anymore. Anyone should be able to wear whatever they want as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else,” Jacob Taylor, a sophomore at Perkiomen Valley High School, says. 

Throughout history, the common belief amongst most, if not all, people was that women wear skirts and men wear pants, but as time went on, those values have changed. No one should be telling people what they can and can’t wear. All over social media, Harry Styles’ fans have been taking his side by saying as long as no one is being hurt by offensive clothing, clothing should have no gender.

Another point brought up in this global argument is the thought of “manly” men. What is the true meaning of being manly? 

“I think people can be insecure about themselves, so then they need what they think society wants them to have, which is manly men,” Catherine Oehler, a senior at Perkiomen Valley High School, said. 

The thought of being “manly” has been an ongoing mindset that many boys and men have adopted. Parents and mentors have told boys to “be a man” or “be manly”, but what does that really mean? Someone’s “manliness” is not defined by being strong or wearing the right thing, it’s about being able to go to sleep at night knowing exactly who you are and “being true to yourself,” another strong point brought about by Jacob Taylor.

Even though many people have supported Styles through his success in being on the Cover of Vogue, others have not been so supportive. Candace Owens, an author and commentator, has made her views on the matter very clear by starting a hashtag on Twitter called “Bring Back Manly Men.” Owens has created a whole chain of different viewpoints firing at Styles, saying this is an “outright attack.” 

Candace is entitled to her own opinion, but as many people have said, she is sticking her nose in something that has nothing to do with her. Styles is entitled to wear what he wants and show who he truly is. No one sees her on the cover of Vogue because she doesn’t represent what being true to yourself and others really means.

These social norms that the world is somehow “comfortable” with are wrong. Everyone has the right to be who they want to be and no one is entitled to tell them otherwise. Harry Styles’ appearance on the cover of Vogue has created so much good in this world by showing people across the globe that it is ok to wear what you want. 

Even though people like Candace Owens will try to tear others down, thousands of others will make their best efforts to bring each other up. This mindset needs to continue in order for positive change to come about in this world. It needs to be normalized for anyone to wear anything, as long as it doesn’t hurt someone else; former stereotypes of fashion must be torn down as men wear dresses and women wear suits. The world has been changing and will continue to change, hopefully for the better by becoming more accepting of others and encouraging self-expression.

Photo: “Harry Styles drawing” by ElizabethHudy is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0