‘Bring back manly men’

I always thought I could never love Harry Styles more than I did when I was 11 years old and discovered “What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction.

Then I saw the December issue of Vogue. 

I was so wrong.

For this issue, Styles was pictured on the front cover in a ruffled, floor-length, baby-blue Gucci dress paired with a navy tuxedo jacket. Styles is the first-ever solo man to be photographed on the front cover of U.S. Vogue.

My first thought?

“What can’t this man do?”

Candance Owens’ first thought?

That Styles wearing a dress isn’t “manly.”

After attacking arguably one of most famous singers of the 21st century and spreading the idea of toxic masculinity and reinforcing outdated gender norms, Owens was criticized, and rightfully so, for her distasteful and outdated comments. 

Candance Owens: it is not Harry Styles wearing a dress that is going to harm society.

But your toxic reinforcement of gender norms will.

Not only did Owens attack Styles on Twitter for his choice in clothing, but in an Instagram story video, Owens stated that Hollywood is satanic and that Harry Styles wearing a dress is essentially a plot established by Russia and China to take over the West.

Sis, it’s a dress.

Not the end of Western civilization.

Owens isn’t the first and she definitely won’t be the last to critique others for what they wear. For some reason, in 2020, people continue to hold onto outdated beliefs about gender norms and continue to think that for a man to be “manly,” they need to wear what society considers to be clothing made for men.

Funny enough: the origin of high heels can be traced back to 15th century Persia, when soldiers would wear them to help secure their feet into the stirrups, according to Teen Vogue.

In Scotland, men wear kilts, which were originally worn into battles.

In ancient Rome, men and women wore togas.

Throughout history, there are instances of men wearing garments other than pants, and Western civilization has yet to collapse.

As a society, we need to push back on the belief that gender determines the kinds of clothes we wear. A man deciding to wear a dress or a skirt does not mean he isn’t a man. Instead, it says he just wants to wear it because it is his choice to do so.

But the root of the issue is not that Candance Owens doesn’t agree with Harry Styles wearing a dress. What Styles decides to wear is up to him and no one else. The root of the issue is that our society continues to confine men to a box by prescribing a set of expectations for how they are supposed to act, dress, and behave. 

This way of thinking is harmful as it does not allow men to practice individualism, and these standards can be damaging for men and others.

What Owens and many others fail to realize is that how a man acts or dresses does not determine if they are a man. If he considers himself a man, then he is a man. Other individuals do not have the right to determine how others decide to identify, act, or dress.

As we head into 2021 in just a few weeks, we need to continue to break down gender stereotypes and speak out against those who attempt to reinforce them.

Men: wear that dress or paint your nails if that is what you want to do.

Because despite what Candance Owens thinks, your manhood is not determined by the clothing you wear or how you act.

As Styles taught us in his album, “Fine Line,” “Treat People with Kindness.”