The first Vogue solo male cover
In December 2020, Vogue decided to go for a change and host its first solo male cover in its 128 year-long history. This cover was graced by Harry Styles, dressed in a Gucci gown. It was definitely a controversial cover as some were demanding “Bring Back Manly Men” and some were simply saying that people can wear whatever they want.
But why Harry Styles? Why did Vogue, who has had only women or men/women groups on its cover, decided to choose Harry Styles for a historic moment? Without doubt, it was a strategic movement considering Mr. Styles is one of the most popular and intriguing stars of our generation. However, I would like to think that it was also because of the values he stands for: Supporting the LGBTQ+ community, Black Lives Matter movements and gender equality. Today, we will focus on the one that relates to us the most- feminism!
Men and feminism
No matter how hard you search for, it is almost impossible to hear a bad thing about this man, especially when it comes to women. Even though he was tried to be portrayed as the “player” during his early years in the band, Styles made sure that he showed what a gentleman he is on every occasion. He also directly speaks about what feminism is to him in an interview with Rolling Stones “I think ultimately feminism is thinking that men and women should be equal, right? People think that if you say ‘I’m a feminist,’ it means you think men should burn in hell and women should trample on their necks. No, you think women should be equal. That doesn’t feel like a crazy thing to me. I grew up with my mum and my sister — when you grow up around women, your female influence is just bigger. Of course men and women should be equal. I don’t want a lot of credit for being a feminist. It’s pretty simple. I think the ideals of feminism are pretty straightforward.” he says.
Respect for women
I might also add a couple more times when Harry showed his respect for women:
When asked about who has the best “game” when it comes to women, Styles replied “It’s not a game!” or when their band was asked if they play dibs when they go to somewhere, he stated that the game objectifies women that’s why they don’t do it. The singer also wore a “women are smarter” t-shirt and participated in Emma Watson’s “He for She” movement.
These examples are specifically related to Harry’s view towards feminism and women. Besides these, I would like to add what’s also very important when it comes to gender equality: Toxic Masculinity.
Stating that men should not dress feminine, wear nail polish or makeup, or men should not cry adds to the problems with gender stereotypes. It is seen as if the men should be tough whereas the women should be fragile. So if you act “tough and manly”, you are somehow superior; which, obviously, should not be the case. On this topic, we can clearly see that Harry simply does not care about these stereotypes and actually fights them. This man was wearing a Gucci gown on the cover of Vogue, constantly wears designs from gender fluid designer Harris reed, wears skirts/dresses occasionally, wears nail polish, rings, earrings; and states in his concert “crying is very manly”.
Applying these concepts beyond gender
As it can be seen from the various examples, Harry Styles tries to create an environment where people aren’t entitled to labels. Even though feminism does not exactly imply this, we can say that not limiting people to labels helps with a world where one gender is not inferior/superior to the other, which is an idea we fully support!
Like Harry says, feminism is pretty simple. We believe that women and men are equal. So, in these days, we hope that all of us can look up to this modern day feminist man along with many other powerful feminists and follow their footsteps.
Also, as a side note, thank you Vogue for choosing this man as the first solo male cover instead of many others, who might not have the same ideals! :)