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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

Who knew the world would be thrust into a frenzy at the sight of Harry Styles wearing a dress on the cover of Vogue

One of the singer’s most outspoken critics was conservative Candance Owens, as she tweeted, “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.”  

This tweet soon sparked a conversation on what it means to actually “be a man” and whether the concept of a man is confined to the binary masculine standard. Owens followed up to this statement by tweeting, “Terms like ‘toxic masculinity’ were created by toxic females. Real women don’t do fake feminism. Sorry I’m not sorry.” 

Once the dust seemed settled, Harry Styles addressed the criticism in a new Instagram post where he posted a picture of himself from his new Variety photo shoot. Wearing a baby blue frilly suit and eating a banana, Styles captioned the photo with, “Bring back manly men.”

Owens promptly responded by tweeting, “When people try to tell me I don’t have influence, and then @Harry_Styles dedicates an entire post to my tweet. I inspire global conversation. #BringBackManlyMen Shots fired. ?.” 

Meanwhile, Harry Styles has been an open advocate about treating people with kindness and is often at the forefront of various conversations, such as the Black Lives Matter movement and gay rights. In his interview with Vogue, Styles spoke about removing fashion barriers, stating, “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. I’ll go in shops sometimes, and I just find myself looking at the women’s clothes thinking they’re amazing.”

Styles stated, “It’s like anything–anytime you’re putting barriers up in your own life, you’re just limiting yourself. There’s so much joy to be had in playing with clothes. I’ve never really thought too much about what it means—it just becomes this extended part of creating something.” 

This conversation opened the arena to talk about the binary societal view by deconstructing the idea of an ideal man. Moreover, it’s solidified fashion as a form of self-expression and creative liberty. Society has normalized the gender binary, making it difficult for people who are genderfluid or androgynous to take space. 

Styles isn’t the first man to have challenged this notion, with celebrities such as David Bowie, Kurt Cobain and Freddie Mercury using their fame to speak out against the binary long before the Fine Line singer’s birth. Celebrities aren’t the only people challenging the binary and pushing fashion barriers with conversations taking place about whether or not gendering children’s clothes is necessary for children when forming their gender identity. Whether you stand with Styles or Owens, there is one thing that is important—that this conversation is being had.  

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Janelle is a Mass Media Communications and International Affairs student at Florida State University. She loves binging youtube videos and can be seen watching anything from animation reviews to conspiracy theories. If you ever want to talk Film, Janelle is your gal.
Her Campus at Florida State University.