Harry Styles in a dress. A South County Dublin parent writes...

“You have had your fun and now I am left to pick up the pieces”

CreditL Vogue/Tyler Mitchell

CreditL Vogue/Tyler Mitchell

 

Dear Mr Styles

I feel I should probably start by letting you know from the outset that I not particularly well acquainted with your musical oeuvre, but the little I have heard on my car radio has not made a lasting impression. I don’t mean to be rude. I just think I should lay my cards on the table given what I have to tell you. In truth my musical and dress sensibilities would be more in line with those of your more experienced colleague Mr Bruce Springsteen.

However, you will no doubt be pleased to hear that my 14 year old daughter and her friends have spoken of little else in recent days other than your appearance on the cover of American Vogue wearing a dress. But in truth Mr Styles I suspect you could be wearing a chicken suit on the cover of Amateur Plumber and they would be enthralled.

The problem arises with regard to my son. This morning he took himself off to his South County Dublin private school in his older sister’s debs dress and my dinner jacket. For the sake of clarity they were not Gucci.

It did not go well, Mr Styles. As you might imagine.

The conversation at morning check-in with the dean of his year went along the following lines:

Are you wearing a dress ?

Yes sir.

Why?

It feels representative of a growing exploration of gender fluidity and non-binary dressing taking place among the very millennial and Gen-Z students that this school is seeking to shape into leaders of tomorrow.

You are not allowed to wear a dress to school. You know the dress code.

It is a dress, sir.

Very funny. I presume you have your beige chinos and pastel coloured Marks and Spencer lambswool jumper in your Jansport rucksac?

Yes sir.

Good lad. Put them on and we will never speak of this again.

Yes sir.

And don’t be late for rugby practice.

Yes Sir.

I am sure you can see the problem here, Mr Styles.

You have had your fun and now I am left to pick up the pieces. I am afraid it is all too easy for you to tell the Guardian that “I’m not just sprinkling in sexual ambiguity to be interesting.” You have opened a veritable pandora’s box that I will struggle to close. How will I navigate this minefield you have laid for me?

I note with some relief that you have clarified that you “want things to look a certain way. Not because it makes me look gay, or it makes me look straight, or it makes me look bisexual, but because I think it looks cool.”

There is, I feel obliged to point out, a certain lack of intellectual rigor to your argument, but it will none the less have to form the basis of what promises to be a tricky conversation.

I have scheduled it for the first advertising break in this evening’s episode of I'm a Celebrity. Which, by the way, if you have not seen it, is an excellent light entertainment programme fronted by two cheerful young men from the north of England who to date have not shown their hand with regards to wearing dresses. In public at least.

However, assuming your purpose is more than mere self promotion and selling designer clothing - or at least not entirely so - I suppose you are to be congratulated for using your fame to highlight this issue of non-binary and fluid genders and the difficulties with acceptance that some young people face in this regard.

Yours sincerely ...

PS...please pass on my daughter’s fond regards to that nice young man from Mullingar who used to sing with you.

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