Yep, Harry Styles wore a dress

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Laurel Seidensticker

As Harry Styles graced the December 2020 Vogue cover wearing a lacy, baby-blue dress with black detailing on the edging, all hell broke loose.

As Harry Styles graced the December 2020 Vogue cover wearing a lacy, baby-blue dress with black detailing on the edging, all hell broke loose. Now I know what you’re thinking, Harry Styles in a dress was the most beautiful magazine cover I have ever seen. Society seems to have a different take. Social media erupted as Harry Styles proudly broke gender stereotypes. Criticized mainly by conservative activist Candance Owens, Styles was soon to grab the attention of many people. Styles has proven that men and women can wear whatever they please by eliminating gender roles in clothing. Little did Owens know, she was about to be proven wrong by Styles’ fans from all over the world.

Owens is widely known for criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement and her support of former President Donald Trump. On Nov. 14, 2020, Owens took to Twitter and Instagram to express her feelings about Styles breaking gender norms by wearing a dress. She described Styles’ attire as “…an outright attack [on society].” She finished her declaration on Twitter with: “Bring back manly men.” She then continued to critique Styles by creating a video on Instagram reiterating the same phrases. 

During a time of confusion and anger due to a worldwide pandemic, one might think that devoting all of your energy into criticizing someone’s choice of clothing would be ignorant. Not for Owens. Her criticism of Styles wearing a dress clearly demonstrates that not only is she unable to comprehend a good fashion sense, but also can’t grasp the fact that a man wearing a dress has nothing to do with his masculinity. Owens seems to think that a piece of clothing determines everything about you. 

Owens was not the only person to speak up. Conservative political commentator Ben Shapiro agreed with Owens’ statements saying that Styles wearing a dress was “undermining masculinity.” It is evident these people fear the destruction of boundaries and still believe in the outdated stereotypes of our society. 

Being manly is not a stereotype that puts people into boxes based on who they identify as.”

Styles takes the opposite stance. During his interview with Vogue, he mentions how he has no limits when it comes to fashion. “Once you remove any barriers,” Styles said, “…you open up the arena in which you can play.” When Styles shops for clothes, he never limits himself by gender. He mentions how he finds himself looking at the women’s clothing and admiring how beautiful it is. He doesn’t categorize himself. 

 

Not long after Owens and others condemned Styles for wearing a dress, he decided to post a picture of himself on Instagram wearing a baby blue suit and posing with a banana, captioned: “Bring back manly men,” a subtle yet powerful response. Many fans stood behind Styles, flooding Owens’ comment section with phrases such as “Stream Fine Line” (his most recent album) and other clever responses. 

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This is not the first time Styles has expressed his flamboyant fashion sense. The former One Direction band member’s fans have watched his fashion evolve since 2010. He is now the face of Gucci’s tailoring campaign and is praised for his sense of style from designers all over the world. It is clear that fashion is the last thing Harry Styles needs to improve on. Besides, he is on the cover of Vogue, which is far more than Owens can say. 

The people denouncing Harry Styles undoubtedly don’t realize that they are in 2021. Gender boundaries were made to be broken, and Styles has proven that. In fact, him being secure enough to explore his feminine side displays his confidence. Countless people stood behind Styles during this disagreement, including celebrities such as Olivia Wilde and Jameela Jamil who supported Styles publicly on Twitter. 

Styles wearing a dress did not affect anyone in a negative way. In fact, many say it had a positive impact on them. He is teaching people like Owens and Shapiro that people can wear whatever they want. To combat people like Owens and Shapiro, society needs to have an open-mind. Realize that someone’s clothing choice has no true affect on your day, month, year or life. 

Styles is becoming a role model for many young boys who may be too scared to be themselves because of people like Candance Owens. He has shown that manly can be whatever you want it to be. It has no definition. Being manly is not a stereotype that puts people into boxes based on who they identify as. Harry Styles has shown society that the gender of one’s clothing is simply a preference. 2021 should be a year where everyone can express themselves without the fear of judgment from other people. Styles having the confidence to wear a dress despite others’ close-minded opinions, proves that he is the manliest man already. As Styles would say, “treat people with kindness.”