A Feminine Closet: For the Boys Who Wear Dresses

Maddie Pettis, Contributor

Back in the winter of 2020, the American fashion magazine Vogue stunned the world with a cover picture of Harry Styles wearing a variety of skirts and dresses. For those of us who grew up as One Directioners, seeing this was not only pleasing to the eye but also made you want to punch the air triumphantly as we saw how far he has come. However, it became apparent that this cover page was not popular among everyone. It would soon turn into a world wide controversy that is still argued today regarding the boundaries of masculinity.

Harry Styles is a prominent advocate for women’s rights and the LGBTQ+ community. He often is seen with gay pride flags at concerts with thousands of screaming fans. Regarding his own sexuality, he has referred to it as “sexual ambiguity” in interviews. Styles’ femininity has raised eyebrows specifically among right leaning conservatives. Many people don’t think their children should be looking up to him or seeing this sort of thing in a global magazine, one specific perpetrator being a well known political figure, Candace Owens. 

Candace Owen’s is a far right leaning conservative, who took no time to address the publication of Styles’ Vogue cover. She had much to say and immediately took to Twitter to explain how “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.” Owen’s dramatic response to this magazine cover sparked a broad question; what makes a manly man?

First of all, I would like to observe that women have been wearing “mens clothes” since pant suits, high top sneakers, and baggy t-shirts. Candace Owens herself is a fan of blazers and suits, having worn them at multiple events. As a society, we need to recognize this double standard and reevaluate the way we go about judging people by the clothes they wear. Who’s to tell men and boys they can’t rock a crop top or skirt? 

It becomes more obvious that this is not about gender roles, but it is about fear. People tend to become fearful when societal norms shift away from tradition. They begin to fear people such as Harry Styles who are fluid about their sexuality and shut down gender stereotypes. Telling men to be manly and protect us rewinds our progress as a country decades into the past.

What appalls me most about this argument that has been drawn out to today is why people care so much about things that don’t affect them in the slightest. Since Harry Style’s cover came out, the sun has continued to rise. Birds have continued to fly. The well being of our country has literally not shifted negatively whatsoever. It is for this reason that little boys should be comfortable enough to walk around with long hair or a skirt. There is a difference between encouraging boys and men to wear what they want when they want and forcing femininity upon them. What we need to do is support and accept rather than shame and shutdown.