Let’s Talk About Harry Styles’s Iconic December 2020 Vogue Cover

“Anytime you’re putting barriers up in your own life, you’re just limiting yourself.” 

The lead quote from Harry Styles on Vogue’s December 2020 issue draws our attention to the fact that he has once again broken the barriers of fashion and gender stereotypes. This cover is a representation of a growing exploration in gender-fluidity. 

To preface my article, I want to start by saying that Harry Styles has been an inspiration and icon to me since 2011. Ah, yes, I swooned over the ripped black skinny jeans, his curly hair loosely held back by a bandana, and the white t-shirt with the silver cross necklace draping over. Did I just sound like a WattPad fanfic? Yikes. 

But don’t lie, you swooned over his signature 2013 Take Me Home Tour look too. 

Over the years, Harry’s style has evolved from the stereotypical teen boy band look into what it is today: beautifully unique with elements of femininity. His style has broken the barriers of the traditional male look and he now dresses in colorful, gender-defying pieces. His wardrobe probably costs more than my entire three years of tuition at Boston University. 

But this isn’t the first time he’s defied gender-stereotypes. Styles, in one of the photos for The Guardian’s Weekend December 2019 issue, wore a black dress on top of a ruffled white blouse. And when he hosted Saturday Night Live in 2019, he dressed up as a ballerina. 

In the Vogue profile of him written by Hamish Bowles, Harry opens up about his love for experimenting with clothing and just having fun and playing with it. After all, he did co-host the 2019 Met Gala themed “Notes on Camp.” 

Harry Styles is the first non-woman to cover American Vogue solo and did so in a revolutionizing way. Photographed by Tyler Mitchell, Styles is pictured in a lace-trimmed periwinkle blue and black dress paired with a double-breasted jacket, both created by Gucci. 

“A dress?!” you might say. Yes, a dress, and what about it?

He looks absolutely stunning in it. 

To Harry, there's a fine line between men’s and women’s clothing. And while men wearing dresses might seem absurdly weird to you, it’s perfectly normal. There isn’t a law stating that only women can wear dresses. Women can wear suits and men can wear dresses and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. 

harry styles playing soccer Photo by vagueonthehow distributed under a CC BY 2.0 license If Harry’s Vogue cover teaches men anything, it should be that it’s okay to let your feminine side shine. It’s okay to cry, show emotion and affection, be vulnerable, wear feminine clothing, paint your nails, wear makeup, and most importantly, just be yourself. The stigma surrounding being masculine is toxic. You do not need to “be a man” or “man up,” just because society has told you that showing emotion makes you weak. 

By adhering to “traditional” male gender roles that consequently stigmatize and limit the emotions men should comfortably be allowed to express, such as femininity, while elevating other emotions, such as anger, you are repressing others and limiting yourself to the definition of violence, status, and aggression. 

Harry’s motto “Treat People With Kindness” expands far beyond the barriers of just being nice. To him, it means truly accepting people for who they are and pushing past the old-fashioned standards of what a man should be and what a woman should be. 

As said by Olivia Wilde, he is truly devoid of any trace of toxic masculinity. 

And to Candace Owens, we do not need to “bring manly men back.” Masculinity does not define a man, and feminine men aren’t weak. Embracing femininity is what makes men strong, not violence and the need for dominance. 

Screw traditional and repressive gender roles—be who you want to be and live your life freely because it’ll only make you stronger.

Harry Styles is a man who exudes confidence, love, and equality. Though he was an inspiration to me in One Direction, he’s even more of an inspiration now as a solo artist. I’m so proud of the person he’s become — a person who strives to treat people with kindness and respect — and I will never stop loving him for all he has done for me and millions of others. 

P.S. Give this man a Grammy already. 

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