OPINION: Someone Forgot to Treat People With Kindness?: Billy Porter’s Backlash on Harry Styles’ Vogue Cover, Fashion Sense, and Undeserving Behavior

OPINION: Someone Forgot to Treat People With Kindness?: Billy Porter’s Backlash on Harry Styles’ Vogue Cover, Fashion Sense, and Undeserving Behavior

Some people seem to hold onto grudges for what seems like a lifetime, literally. In this article, we take a look at Billy Porter’s unrequited jealousy over Harry Styles’ heavily contemplated Vogue 2020 photoshoot.   

 Let’s take a blast into the past, specifically back to December 2020, when Harry Styles was officially deemed the first man to grace his presence on the cover of Vogue magazine. Fans of Styles swooned, me included of course, because really, who wouldn’t? His courage and expression of gender fluid fashion changed the game not only in Hollywood, but for his fans who may have been too afraid to unapologetically be who they were always meant to be.

    In the world we live in today, a man choosing to wear tights, a dress, or even a bit of jewelry places unwanted labels on their characters and personalities. These stigmas can become suffocating, and Styles’ message on the cover of Vogue was almost like a breath of fresh air for those of us who want to feel just a bit more seen. Of course, his message was only blissful for his tasteful audience, as lots of criticism came his way shortly after the magazine was released, and even now nine months later. 

    Candace Owens, American conservative author and political commentator, gained lots of attention after her backlash tweet gained headway on Twitter, with her closing statement in response to the Vogue cover being “Bring back manly men.” Okay Owens, let’s take it down a notch. What exactly makes a man “manly,” and who are you to decide if someone’s decision to dress fluidly should hinder their successes or not?

    Clearly, Owens was not the only one with these controversial opinions, as Billy Porter, American actor and singer, has recently received some looks of disapproval over his jealousy that Style’s became the first man on Vogue. As per an interview with British Paper The Sunday Times, Porter stated “I feel like the fashion industry has accepted me because they have to…I created the conversation [about non-binary fashion] and yet Vogue still put Harry Styles, a straight white man, in a dress on their cover for the first time.” 

    Not only did Porter assume Styles’ sexuality, as there is no public evidence of Styles identifying himself, but he has also made a movement that has the power to alter the gender barriers and stigmas that surround men and women all over the world, seem nothing more than a competition of popularity. These materialistic arguments are nothing more than setbacks surrounding the movement that both Porter and Styles should have been on the same page about from the start. Wearing clothes that make you happy, make you feel comfortable in your own skin, and promote you to inspire others to join you in your quest of finding who you are through fashion, should be a universal opportunity for men and women. Nobody should ever feel like they are less of a person, or moreso than that, feel as though they do not deserve to thrive in their environment, just by the way they dress. 

    Up until now, people speculated that Porter and Styles fought the same battles and strove for the same goals, but it seems as though their endgames are on opposite ends of the spectrum. For Styles, “there’s so much joy to be had in playing with clothes. [He’s] never thought too much about what it means–it just becomes this extended part of creating something,” (Vogue). And that is exactly what it should be.

    Porter, try and work on supporting people unconditionally, and remember that the greatest accomplishments in life can be shared, never competed for. After all, that’s what Styles would want. Love, Y.