According to Billboard, Harry's cover challenges gender norms, noting that
- "the popular headline to describe the image was “topless,” usually a gendered term to connote an exposed cis woman’s chest" and that there's something "distinctly feminine" about his cover
- They point out that the image of him being in water is "almost uniquely femme" and that it's usually female pop stars pictured in water and that, "when men do so, it’s usually those with some gender-bending and/or queer qualities (think George Michael)"
- Harry has "always had femme-like qualities" and the water being a pink blush color just enhances that.
They point out the color of the water also plays into the environmental connection
- Historically, pink water is a type of water found only in "toxic environments" its color being "discharged in situations of demilitarization"
- They point out Harry is in a upcoming World War 2 film and that "bathing in what could be considered war waste gives off a distinct message" especially when it fits with his debut single “Sign of the Times” which "feels like a song about the end of the world"
- the aesthetic Harry went for is "stereotypically—feminine" sending "soft, delicate vibes" instead of a "strong masculinity" feel.
- he's "shattering gender norms" by "showing men can be just as delicate and soft as women"
- his pink cover is proving that men can "be more “feminine”, too, and it’s perfectly okay"
The article also points out that Harry has broken gender norms often before, like when he went to the Another Man magazine launch party wearing nail polish, has had his long hair, and has written gender neutral songs and interview answers.
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