Harry Styles is breaking gender norms, challenging toxic masculinity while still writing hits.
When we first laid eyes on pop star Harry Styles, he was just a young teen dressed in a grey cardigan, skinny jeans, a scoop-neck t-shirt, and a small wrap-around scarf; all of which looked like they’d been picked out straight from the local high-street. A few weeks ago, he broke the internet by becoming the first man to appear on his own for the front cover of Vogue – and if that wasn’t the reason why him strutting around in a periwinkle saloon dress from Gucci’s newest collection definitely was.
Styles has been challenging these gender norms for years with experimentation and evolution being key roles within his career; however, it was the Vogue cover that really got everyone talking. Harry told Vogue: “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. When you take away ‘There’s clothes for men and there are clothes for women,’ once you remove any barriers, obviously you open up the arena in which you can play.”
However, the Vogue cover wasn’t the first time we’d seen Harry publicly challenge these stereotypes, in 2019 Styles got listed as one of the co-hosts for The Met Gala, where he stunned in a sheer frilled black blouse with tailored trousers, complimented with some shiny, leather heeled boots. This look got everyone talking, while it worked perfectly for the Camp theme and left everyone’s eyes on him for the rest of the night.
From the Met Gala to his world tour looks, Harry has always overstepped these ‘so-called’ boundaries; opening up on his sexuality and love for fashion. Styles has defended the queer aesthetics of his visual work before by saying; “I’m not just sprinkling in sexual ambiguity to be interesting,” “I want things to look a certain way. Not because it makes me look gay, or it makes me look straight, or it makes me look bisexual, but because I think it looks cool.”
Harry Styles whether you are a fan or not is leading the way within challenging toxic masculinity by blurring the fine line between masculinity and femininity. With his creative and carefree attitude when it comes to gender and social norms, he’s showing us all a future in which clothing is playing more of a key role within self-expression than ever seen before.
By Dannie Copperwheat