“Bring back manly men” – Toxic Masculinity in the media

Kylea M. Tackett, Multi-Media Editor

On January 1, social media was shocked as Vogue Magazine released a new issue featuring singer, Harry Styles on the cover. This has made Styles the first solo male on the cover of Vogue, but has also caused controversy as he wore a long sky blue dress instead of traditional ‘male’ clothing.  

 It’s important to understand that Styles is not the first celebrity to break traditional gender stereotypes, and he definitely won’t be the last. Other examples of celebrities that have worn similar things are Ross Lynch, Timothee ChalametPrince, and Freddie Mercury. 

“There’s so much joy to be had in playing with clothes. I’ve never thought too much about what it means–it just becomes this extended part of creating something,” Styles said on Vogue.com 

Traditionally, and especially in the media, men are portrayed as tough, cold, and “manly”. It is important as a society that we redefine what it means to be “manly”. Styles does just that. He combats the stereotype that men cannot express any other emotion than anger, as his brand is “Treat People With Kindness” and he is constantly showing it is okay for men to show love. 

“I think there’s so much masculinity in being vulnerable and allowing yourself to be feminine, and I’m very comfortable with that,” Styles said on Vogue.co.uk 

There is also a very clear stereotype in the media that feminine men must identify as gay. Styles has never felt a need to clarify his sexuality to anyone, as he believes it is no one’s business but his own. 

“I don’t feel like it’s something I’ve ever felt like I have to explain about myself. It’s weird for me — everyone should just be who they want to be,” Styles said on Vogue.co.uk 

Many can say they see a future where clothing has no gender. Even now, many clothing brands are coming up with gender-neutral lines. Pacsun is an example of this.  

“Clothes are there to have fun with and experiment with and play with. What’s really exciting is that all of these lines are just kind of crumbling away. It’s like anything — anytime you’re putting barriers up in your own life, you’re just limiting yourself,” Styles said on Vogue. 

Styles’ Vogue cover caught much traction on Twitter, when politician Candace Owens voiced her opinion on his stylish photoshoot. 

“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,” Owens said on Twitter. 

Styles was unbothered by Owen’s comments on his choices, though. He took to Instagram, posting a picture of him wearing a feminine outfit eating a banana, with the caption, “Bring back manly men.” This is a clear representation of taking back your power, something anyone on the internet can look up to. 

A lesson that can be taken away from Styles is that there is nothing wrong with living your life unapologetically. Be you to your truest form. Styles constantly pushes boundaries in every aspect of fashion and music, and still ends up being loved by millions. Everyone has the potential inside of them to be just as inspirational.