Harry Styles makes waves after Vogue photoshoot

Stella Fetherston, Art Editor

Harry Styles has taken center stage on social media following his photoshoot for the cover of Vogue Magazine. Styles is a popular singer and is the first lone man to grace the cover, but this feat alone isn’t what has people talking. Several influential right-wing figures have taken to Twitter to criticize Styles’ photoshoot. His attire of choice, a Gucci dress that has sparked conversations around gender, masculinity and what it means to be a man. 

One such person is conservative author and social media personality Candace Owens, who tweeted, “Bring back manly men. 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.”

Ben Shapiro is another conservative commentator who shared Owens’ opinions. 

“This is perfectly obvious,” Shapiro tweeted back. “Anyone who pretends that it is not a referendum on masculinity for men to don floofy dresses is treating you as a full-on idiot.”

Of course, the belief that Styles has somehow compromised his masculinity through his clothing choice is not a new one. Gender non-conforming folks express themselves outside of traditional gender constructs, and they have been experiencing ostracization and hatred since long before this cover was published.

“This cover doesn’t have to be considered revolutionary because he’s in a dress. It’s for those who are afraid of change that it is deemed so controversial,” Tualatin High School junior Lexi Rusk said. 

Styles is a public figure (and a white, cisgender male) who is only recently starting to express himself with more femininity. To call him revolutionary would discredit all of the fashion icons before him, predominantly those who are POC and queer. 

Owens also talked about the feminization of men as hurting children and American society as a whole. An opposing opinion is that children should see men, and people in general, expressing themselves however they want. Those in support of this freedom of expression say the goal is to raise the next generation of boys without a gender construct which regards clothing as a determiner for gender. Styles is the recent example of this belief: he is a man and he wears a dress, but that doesn’t make him any less of a man, advocates say. 

This cover of Vogue has certainly stirred up strong emotions across social media. 

Another Tualatin High School junior, Ava Bruce, said, “I think that Harry Styles has helped many people realize that their self expression is so important… No matter what they choose to wear and how they choose to express themselves, they are valid and beautiful.” 

Styles’ impact is undeniable, but how you perceive his expression is up to much more complex beliefs than just a celebrity in a dress.