Who knew a man in a dress could still get so many twerps’ knickers in a twist? Well, a lot of us, probably—but nonetheless, it was still fascinating to watch conservatives clutch their pearls as Harry Styles became the first man to grace the cover of Vogue, blowing a balloon in a gloriously ruffled dress. Leading the charge was Candace Owens, with the battle cry “Bring back manly men!” Now, Styles has responded to the absurd attacks both in an interview and, more amusingly, in a mischievous Instagram post.
On Wednesday Variety published a cover story with Styles as its Hitmaker of the Year. The singer also shared a photo of himself from his cover shoot eating a banana in another ruffled ensemble. The caption? “Bring back manly men.”
Styles discussed the dress backlash in his interview, largely echoing the points he made in his Vogue profile. “To not wear [something] because it’s females’ clothing, you shut off a whole world of great clothes,” he told Variety. “And I think what’s exciting about right now is you can wear what you like. It doesn’t have to be X or Y. Those lines are becoming more and more blurred.”
This concept is evidently lost on such conservative pundits as Candace Owens and Ben Shapiro, both of whom had a lot of feelings about Styles in a dress when the Vogue piece published last month.
“There is no society that can survive without strong men. The East knows this,” Owens tweeted at the time. “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.” (Clearly Owens has forgotten the centuries of western men wearing stockings, heeled shoes, wigs, and other finery that would have left Styles looking downright plain in comparison.)
Nonetheless, Shapiro retweeted Owens with his own absurd thread, adding, “This is perfectly obvious. 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.”
Thankfully, it seems Styles isn’t putting too much stock in what these luminaries have to say. As he told Vogue, “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.”