How Harry Styles is Breaking Gender Norms


Courtesy of Dazed

With confidence, Harry Styles donned a long gown for his December edition Vogue shoot, proving men can wear “feminine” clothing.

Riley Pietsch, Editor-in-Chief

From the moment a child is born, he or she is unknowingly confined by their assigned gender. Women have been expected to hold “emotional” and “nurturing” characteristics, and in contrast, men should be perceived as “strong” and “dominant.” As society has progressed and people have become more confident in their own identities, men and women have broken these stereotypes that have constricted them for centuries. 

clothes are genderless”

— Sammy Baloch (12)

Musicians have notably broken various gender norms, from Lady Gaga performing as her male alter-ego, Jo Calderone, to Prince, who sported platform heels and “flamboyant” outfits while he performed to thousands on stage. The music industry has made significant strides towards dismantling gender stereotypes, and more recently, Harry Styles, a prior member of the popular boy band One Direction and now solo artist, has also questioned the boundaries of gender conformity. 

As the first male to cover Vogue solo, Harry Styles already sparked the media’s interest with his December-edition appearance in the acclaimed magazine; however, many were less focused on this accomplishment, but rather Styles’ fashion choice. Despite his past of experimenting with an androgynous style, the English singer’s wearing of a dress caused a great commotion throughout the media.

Making history, Harry Styles becomes the first male to cover Vogue solo. (Courtesy of Vogue)

Specifically, political activist Candace Owens, took to her social media to express her opinions on Harry Styles’ Vogue cover. Known for her strong, and often controversial opinions, Owens tweeted, “There is no society that can live without strong men” following with, “Bring back manly men.” 

Even as more guys sport skirts and polished nails in working towards destigmatizing feminine men, those with conservative mindsets seem to still detest gender progression. While it is harmless and empowering for many men to break toxic masculinity — “a set of attitudes and ways of behaving stereotypically associated with or expected of men, regarded as having a negative impact on men and on society as a whole” — many still believe men must be masculine (Oxford Languages). 

Although some strongly disagree with femininity in men, others have found it freeing. Styles explained that “There’s so much fun to be had in playing with clothes” (Vogue). With a similar philosophy, Sammy Baloch (12) noted that she believes that “clothes are genderless” and “anyone can wear a dress.” 

Harry Styles has remained a role model for individuals around the world for over ten years, and his bravery to deny the prominent gender stereotypes that still linger in the 21st century has not gone unnoticed. Brandon Vega (12), a Harry Styles supporter, finds his style to be “empowering for boys like [him] who have grown up with social pressures” to appear unemotional and macho. 

While stereotypes have significantly weakened as more and more individuals continue to overcome gender norms, traditionalists still oppose a world without gender roles. Men in dresses remain a taboo topic that many can not wrap their heads around. 

Candace Owens beliefs’ on Harry Styles’ femininity are not only controversial but also damaging to young, impressionable minds. Her outright toxicity has severe consequences among the masses, as it only intensifies the social pressures men and women face daily. Not every woman may want to flaunt a shaven haircut and not every man feels exceedingly confident in a gown, but in a society that has formed intense boundaries when it comes to gender expression, people like Harry Styles are instrumental in paving the way for individuals to express themselves freely.