Harry Styles defies gender norms



Harry Styles sparks major social media controversy by having the audacity to wear what he wants in a photo shoot. Styles is the first male to be featured on the cover of Vogue Magazine alone, and shockingly to many, he was wearing a dress.
Though a lot of people applauded his decision to defy gender stereotypes and take a stand against toxic masculinity, some also opposed the move and saw it as a direct attack on traditional family values. Candace Owens, a conservative political activist, is included in the latter.
Owens took a very clear stance on Twitter, commenting that we need to “bring back manly men” and implying that feminine men will crumble our society, motivating offensive and closed-minded replies from her supporters that call Styles a “sick person” and a “freak.”
However, a quick Google search will reveal that “manly men” have been observed wearing long, dress or robe-like garments in nearly every culture throughout history, including Jesus in most Christian depictions of Him. It was even a normal practice for mothers to dress their little boys in gender-neutral dresses, the same style that girls wore, until mid-19th-century, simply out of convenience.
Most opposition seems to come from a place of toxic masculinity. As a society we’ve adapted the idea that men need to act or think in a certain way to prove themselves “manly” enough, and if they choose not to subscribe to the typical binary-concept of gender, then they’re the problem.
The issue doesn’t end with what men are supposed to wear, but it extends to expecting men to participate in specific outlined activities, carry themselves a certain way, refrain from talking about their feelings, and fit into a cookie-cutter mold given to them by society.
While society has progressed to a point that women can wear traditionally “masculine” clothing, men still face scrutiny for showing a hint of femininity. This double standard perpetrates the harmful notion that men are less-than for expressing themselves in any way other than “the norm.”
This is part of the conversation that Styles ended up sparking as a result of his photo shoot. In response to the opposition, mostly led by Owens, he clapped back with another picture of him in a dress and the caption “bring back manly men.” Evidentially Styles feels that a man isn’t defined by his sense of style.
At the end of the day, it’s 2020; it’s well past time to break out of the pressures of gender roles and to just treat people with kindness. Men in dresses won’t crumble society. Restricting what people wear because it doesn’t align with your perfect view of what a man or a woman “should” be, very well may.