One of the most fashion-forward members of Congress, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has weighed in on the ongoing debate swirling around Harry Styles’ historic appearance on the cover of Vogue — and we’re sure glad she did.
On Saturday, the congresswoman (who represents New York’s 14th Congressional District) answered a series of questions submitted by her followers on Instagram Stories. One of the topics of discussion: Styles and that stylish photoshoot — and her response was, in typical AOC fashion, perfect.
“The masculine and feminine elements are balanced beautifully. The hair and jacket styling give me James Dean vibes too,” she said on her Instagram Stories. “Some people are mad at it [because] some folks are very sensitive to examining and exploring gender roles in society. Perhaps for some people it provokes some anger or insecurity around masculinity/femininity/etc. If it does, then maybe that’s part of the point. Sit with that reaction and think about it, examine it, explore it, engage it, and grow with it.”
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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard the not-so-quiet rumblings around Styles’ appearance on the cover the December 2020 issue of Vogue. Not only did the pop star make history as the first man to appear solo on the iconic mag’s cover, but his decision to do so in a flowy dress has ignited the sort of argument that sends society back to the Dark Ages. For the record, it all came to a head when conservative commentator Candace Owens called the cover shoot an example of the “steady feminization of our men” and demanded that western society “bring back manly men.” Since then, the “debate” has boiled over into a bizarre liberal vs. conservative argument that pits two conflicting ideas of gender norms against one another.
Perhaps Owens needs to brush up on her pop culture knowledge seeing as men (specifically actors and musicians) bending gender norms is nothing new. Has she heard of Queer Eye‘s Jonathan van Ness or Pose‘s Billy Porter? Both of those Emmy (!) winners (!!) routinely make red carpet appearances in full-length gowns and makeup. Remember when Brad Pitt, jacked up after filming Fight Club, wore a sparkly tight dress for a 1999 issue of Rolling Stone? Or when David Bowie donned a majestic floral dress for a 1971 photoshoot with the Daily Mirror? Spoiler alert: they are all “manly men.”
The online conversation around this topic can be disheartening, which makes AOC’s vocal support of Styles all the more important and poignant. As she concluded in her Instagram Stories, “What’s the point of creating things if they don’t make people think or feel or reflect? Especially as an artist or creative? Who wants to see the same things all the time? And never explore their assumptions? Anyway, it looks bomb.”