Singer-songwriter Harry Styles surprised fans on Nov. 13 with a tweet announcing his feature in the December issue of Vogue.
The article, written by Hamish Bowles, focuses on Styles’ abundant success in the music and entertainment industries over the past decade, including his upcoming role in Olivia Wilde’s film, “Don’t Worry Darling.”
As well as discussing his recent professional achievements, Bowles talked with Styles about the singer’s personal life and how he has learned to live without limits, especially in regards to how he dresses.
Styles admitted to thinking women’s clothes are “amazing” and told Bowles that he isn’t afraid to dress flamboyantly. The singer went on to advise his fans to avoid putting limitations on themselves, whether in their fashion choices or other areas of life.
Styles, never a fan of barriers, made history last month by being the first male artist to appear solo on the cover of American Vogue. In the issue, Styles also posed for photographer Tyler Mitchell while wearing various gender-defying outfits, most notably a floor-length Gucci dress and accompanying blazer.
This is not the first time Styles has shown a disregard for gender norms when making his fashion choices; fans have obsessed over his oft-painted nails and glittery pink tour suits for years. Last November, Styles even posed as a ballerina for his appearance on Saturday Night Live, bright pink tutu and all.
Although many of Styles’ fans have flooded social media with overwhelming support for his Vogue appearance, some users, like author Candace Owens, have voiced much more negative opinions.
“In the west, the steady feminization of our men… is an outright attack. Bring back manly men,” Owens tweeted in response to a photograph of Styles wearing the Gucci dress.
Director Olivia Wilde, a co-worker and friend of Styles, responded to Owens by tweeting a simple yet cogent, “You’re pathetic.”
Styles, always unapologetically himself, responded to the hate by posting a picture from his recent Variety photoshoot of himself coyly eating a banana, simply captioned, “Bring back manly men.”
Hundreds of other stars, from politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to actress Lucy Hale, have taken to social media to show their support for Styles.
“Harry Styles is plenty manly, because manly is whatever you want it to be,” actress and activist Jameela Jamil tweeted, “He’s 104% perfect.”
The trend of entertainers refusing to adhere to gender norms in fashion is not a new phenomenon. In the Vogue article, Styles even name-dropped some singers who have inspired him to live authentically, such as Prince, David Bowie and Freddie Mercury.
Styles is far from the first performer to challenge gender roles through fashion, and hopefully, he will not be the last.
Although it is exciting to see Styles defy gender norms in his fashion choices, activists like Alok Vaid-Menon caution against forgetting the very real struggles trans and nonbinary people face every day.
“Am I happy to see Harry be celebrated for openly flouting gendered fashion norms? Yes. Do trans femmes of color receive praise for doing the same thing every day? No. Do I think this is a sign of progress of society’s evolution away from binary gender? Yes. Do I think that white men should be upheld as the face of gender neutral fashion? No,” Vaid-Menon wrote in an Instagram post.
What is especially encouraging about Styles, though, is how he is willing to listen to the voices of the people he advocates for. After Vaid-Menon uploaded their post to Instagram, Styles followed their account, and his sister, Gemma, liked their post.
Styles has always been willing to use his platform to uplift others’ voices, and this is what truly makes him, as Bowles writes, “the image of a new era.”