Harry Styles broke history as the first man to ever be on the cover of Vogue – but it didn’t come without the haters.
Typical tropes of masculinity have been in reform for years, but at times like these, it’s easy to feel as though identity politics have barely moved forward as a collective whole. For its December issue, Harry Styles made waves by being the first man to make a solo appearance on the cover of Vogue. It was indeed spectacular, and Styles was seen in a beautiful lace dress and tuxedo jacket, crafted by Gucci creative director and friend, Alessandro Michele.
The internet went wild, praising Harry for his courage and his effort in dismantling conventional masculinity. The headline “Make Your Own Rules” was accompanied by a clear message: do what you want, wear what you want.
“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,” he told the magazine.
“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.”
While Harry Styles has indeed broken bounds, he certainly wasn’t first to the parade when it comes to non-conforming clothing. In the past, the likes of Young Thug, Nirvana, Marc Jacobs, and many members of the queer community have bravely taken space to challenge toxic male identity norms.
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As non-news as it is for Harry Styles to be a wearing dress, what is surprising is the hate and backlash he received for the cover.
Two weeks ago, Candace Owens, conservative political activist, took a jab at the star, tweeting “bring back manly men” in a strong attempt to reinforce the status quo.
There is no society that can survive without strong men. The East knows this. In the west, the steady feminization of our men at the same time that Marxism is being taught to our children is not a coincidence.
It is an outright attack.
Bring back manly men. https://t.co/sY4IJF7VkK
— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) November 14, 2020
Owens’ perspective, which comes off as absurdly ignorant in 2020, is fairly concerning considering how far we thought we’d come. Even more disturbing is the fact that her tweet collected an upward of 100,000 likes. The support for Owens’ comments reflects the deeply embedded conservatism still present in the Western psyche.
Yet, whilst he had remained quiet on the matter up until this point, Harry Styles finally hit back at the activist today in an Instagram shutdown that left fans reeling. Posting a photo of himself wearing a ruffled suit and eating a banana, he accompanied it with the caption: “bring back manly men.”
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Of course, the internet went nuts, taking to Twitter to back the pop icon.
“Bring back manly men”
excuse me but the real man is the one who is not afraid of being who they are, and if this is true masculinity :) pic.twitter.com/grjTnciegd
— cam⁹¹ (@wallsheoioi) December 2, 2020
Candace Owens, when she saw Harry’s new photo with the caption “bring back manly men” pic.twitter.com/g0aBvtbwr7
— evie²⁸♡ is proud of Harry (@ivasgoldenwalls) December 2, 2020
harry when he captioned his post “Bring back manly men”: pic.twitter.com/teWv4KgIYT
— luli²⁸ ¹ᴰ claims track 5 on Z3 (@xadoreyouliamx) December 2, 2020
candace: bring bac-
harry: bRiNg BacK MaNLy MeN
— kat ²⁸ ◟̽◞̽ | loves harry (@ashesxfearless) December 2, 2020
harry after putting “bring back manly men” in his caption, shading candace, and then immediately going offline knowing he’s done some king shit: pic.twitter.com/Aqkv4YKuoO
— dulce ♡’s mar and lhh (@xdulcetstyles) December 2, 2020
Well done Harry, well done.