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In the December 2020 issue of Vogue US, Harry Styles was the first male cover model in the famous fashion magazines' long history, and he defied traditional male gender fashion norms by wearing a lacy, baby blue dress. Conservatives took to Twitter in outrage with Styles' breaking of traditional gender norms. Members of the LGBTQ+ community asked why an affluent, heterosexual, white, cisgender man had suddenly become the poster child for something drag queens and cross-dressers have been doing for decades. The argument quickly gained two sides, both in disapproval for the pivotal cover photo. Beyond this specific case, it's important to go back in history and examine what does a "manly man" look like? What do they act like? And why? What teaches and reinforces such toxic masculinity? Compared to violent movies and video games, fashion magazines are a vastly different medium that opens up the discussion of what men's fashion looks like today and how times are changing. Playful engagement with clothes and textiles has opened up the arena in which Styles was able to operate for the Vogue US cover shoot, but is this his story to tell? Should a cisgender, heterosexual man be the example when members of the LGBTQ+ community have similarly experimented with fashion? The portrayal of gender stereotypes in the media is complex and makes for an important discussion about how these stereotypes may evolve or change throughout time.
Course Project 202280 CMM 337 02
Primary Advisor's Department
Stander Symposium, College of Arts and Sciences
"Bring Back Manly Men: An Examination of How Extreme Male Gender Stereotypes Are Portrayed in the Media" (2023). Stander Symposium Projects. 2784.