BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ- Vogue decided to step outside of its comfort zone in its December issue by naming Harry Styles the first solo male cover star in the history of the magazine. But also making history is what Styles is wearing. 

Styles is featured on the cover wearing a blue dress and a Gucci tuxedo jacket while standing in an open field, blowing a balloon, and wearing his signature assortment of rings. His dress symbolizes free spiritedness and the option to live your life how you want to live it. He wanted his cover to push the boundaries of social norms. 

A quote from Styles’ interview appears to the right of the singer’s cover shot:  “Anytime you’re putting barriers up in your life, you’re limiting yourself.”

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In breaking with social norms, Styles explains that he enjoys playing around with clothes as it makes him feel more confident. 

The image of Styles in a dress has received an abundance of both backlash and support on social media. 

Candace Owens, a famous conservative political activist, tweeted “Bring back manly men” in response to Styles’ cover photo. She continued to argue that there is a certain place in society for strong men, and they are a necessity to our society, indicating that wearing so-called feminine attire makes Styles and other men less masculine.

Sara Bareilles, singer of the 2013 hit “Brave” and composer for Waitress on Broadway, said, “If Harry Styles in a dress scares you, it’s more about you than him.”

Styles’ photo shoot is provoking people to question what a real man is. Is it based on how much a man can lift? Or how many books he can read? Or how much sympathy a man has? Or, in this case, what a man wears?

The Vogue fashion choice doesn’t sway sophomore Emily Cacicedo’s opinion of Styles. “I think that a manly man is someone who is confident in their sexuality and who they are as a person so much so that they don’t care what others think of them.” 

Styles has decided to bring light to the idea of embracing oneself and being whomever you want to be. 

“I think that it is absolutely wonderful that Harry Styles is breaking these stereotypes and using his platform to show that you are free to express yourself however you please,” junior Vivien Reed said.

Styles’ choice to wear a dress and Vogue’s decision to feature it on the cover takes a step toward challenging society’s views on what masculinity and femininity are.

A truly “manly” man is one that is happy to be himself and treats every individual with kindness, even despite the ideas of others. If people are truly happy with themselves does it really matter what they are wearing?

Citations:

Bowles, Hamish. “Harry Styles on Dressing Up, Making Music, and Living in the Moment.” Vogue, 19 Nov. 2020, www.vogue.com/article/harry-styles-cover-december-2020/amp.

“Candace Owens Gets Backlash from Harry Styles Fans over 'Bring Back Manly Men' Tweet.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 17 Nov. 2020, www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/candace-owens-gets-backlash-harry-styles-fans-over-bring-back-n1247983.