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Last week, Vogue magazine unveiled photos from its December issue, featuring Styles on the cover. In several of the images, the former One Direction member pairs a floor-length Gucci gown with a tuxedo jacket.
— Vogue Magazine (@voguemagazine) November 13, 2020
The photos drew a scathing response from right-wing author Candace Owens, who argued on Twitter that Styles was indicative of the “steady feminization of our men,” adding, “Bring back manly men.”
Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro felt similarly. “Anyone who pretends that it is not a referendum on masculinity for men to don floofy dresses is treating you as a full-on idiot,” he tweeted.
But the vocal majority online appear to be loving the new looks.
“Harry Styles is plenty manly, because manly is whatever you want it to be, not what some insecure, toxic, woman-hating, homophobic dickheads decided it was hundreds of years ago,” Jameela Jamil tweeted. “He’s 104% perfect.”
Also... this was at one time considered very manly. Wigs, make up, tights, frills... maybe this is the comeback of the “manly man.” pic.twitter.com/8dvSRGYj4w
— Jameela Jamil 🌈 (@jameelajamil) November 16, 2020
Braff offered similar sentiments ...
Our whole lives boys and men are told we need to be manly. Life is short. Be whatever the fuck you want to be. pic.twitter.com/oY6ji3tpaI
— Zach Braff (@zachbraff) November 16, 2020
... as did Chasten Buttigieg, the husband of former Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg.
Love love love this @Harry_Styles @voguemagazine spread. I remember when some said I played into “heteronormativity” by wearing chinos in @TIME. Honestly, what can you wear these days? Oh yeah. That’s right. Anything you damn well please.
— Chasten Buttigieg (@Chasten) November 16, 2020
And Wilde, who is currently directing the singer in the forthcoming thriller “Don’t Worry, Darling,” fired back at Owens with just two words.
— olivia wilde (@oliviawilde) November 16, 2020
Others pointed out that the Vogue cover story isn’t Styles’ first time challenging gender norms through fashion. Musical predecessors like David Bowie and Prince broke similar barriers during their heydays, too.
As of Monday, Styles had yet to respond directly to the critics. In his Vogue interview, however, he appeared to brace himself for some pushback.
“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,” he said. “When you take away ‘There’s clothes for men and there’s clothes for women,’ once you remove any barriers, obviously you open up the arena in which you can play.”
“I’ll go in shops sometimes, and I just find myself looking at the women’s clothes thinking they’re amazing,” he added. “It’s like anything — anytime you’re putting barriers up in your own life, you’re just limiting yourself.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.