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Harry Styles performing at the 2021 Grammy Awards
Harry Styles performing at the 2021 Grammy Awards
Photo by Francis Specker / CBS

Harry Styles: Redefining Masculinity

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

Harry Styles is known for being a singer, songwriter, actor, and ultimate fashion icon. After parting ways from One Direction, his previous boy band, Harry was able to discover his authentic self through his solo career, as he has never felt freer. His artistic statements, whether they are in song lyrics, music videos, or clothing, grab the attention of the world, as the reactions vary.

Styles is taking the world by a storm, as he is redefining masculinity. Today, gender stereotypes and equality are popular topics of conversation. There is a preconceived idea of what is considered “acceptable” for each gender. It is assumed that girls should play with dolls, wear dresses, and like the color pink, while boys should play with Legos, wear shorts, and like the color blue. These binary exclusive representations of gender norms are damaging to individuals who do not relate to what is assumed of their gender. Society has created a toxic representation of what is considered feminine and masculine, but fortunately, these stereotypes are slowly fading as people like Harry Styles challenge gender norms.

Women wearing clothes that are traditionally masculine, such as suits, are already mostly accepted in society, but men dressing feminine remains unacceptable by many. Styles is redefining this preconceived norm of masculinity, expressing through his fashion that what one wears does not determine how masculine or feminine they are. His extravagant sense of fashion is more clearly represented during his recent tour in 2021. The outfits he wears are considered to most as being more feminine, yet he debunks this idea of what is considered feminine and masculine, expressing that there is no limit. Styles claims, “To not wear [something] because it’s females’ clothing, you shut out a whole world of great clothes.”

A big turning point in Harry Styles’ redefinition of masculinity was in December of 2020 when he became the first man alone on the cover of Vogue Magazine. This was even more impactful because he was wearing a dress in the photo, exemplifying that masculinity and femininity are based on how one expresses themself. However, alongside the large number of positive reactions, there were an equal number of negative ones, as many did not appreciate him challenging gender norms. However, with his strong platform, Styles still manages to tremendously impact the redefinition of masculinity and gender stereotypes. 

Pop culture is constantly challenging these heteronormative stereotypes of gender, as it is paving a path towards a world that accepts everyone. Harry Styles and countless other artists are influencing society to see fashion and gender stereotypes differently, as they aim to express that nothing is ever simply binary. Yes, an individual can identify as either more masculine or feminine, but they also have the power to label themselves as a combination of both. Through clothing, careers, sports and so much more, society makes assumptions of human actions based on assumed gender, with certain things either fully accepted or unaccepted. Nevertheless, the revolution that Harry Styles and countless others have begun is impacting the world as they redefine and challenge these gender norms.

I am a third year at UC Davis majoring in Communication and double minoring in Technology Management and Psychology. In my free time I enjoy playing sports, traveling, going to Trader Joes, and watching New Girl on repeat.