Harry Styles dating rumours spark debate about double standards and fatphobia

Harry Styles dating rumours spark debate about double standards and fatphobia
Joe Maher/Getty Images for Bauer Media / Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Bustle

Harry Styles is rumoured to be dating actress Olivia Wilde after photos of the two of them holding hands surfaced online.

But the same levels of speculation didn’t arise in relation to Styles and Lizzo who briefly held hands at an awards ceremony in February last year. And some Twitter users want to know why.

Styles and Wilde were spotted holding hands at the California wedding of Styles’s manager, Jeffrey Azoff.

People magazine reported that they have “dated for a few weeks”: it’s possible that they met while working on Don’t Worry Darling, which Wilde recently directed and starred in alongside Styles.

In the case of Styles and Lizzo, Lizzo took Styles’s hand and leaned into him while they were sitting at nearby tables at the Brit Awards. Host Jack Whitehall joked that he was “jealous” of them.

Lizzo also likened herself and Styles to an “old married couple” in an interview.

Styles and Lizzo have a well-documented friendship: they’ve performed together and covered each other’s songs. But it’s always been called just that – a friendship – with very little speculation about possible dating.

Some Twitter users argued that this is a double-standard. People are more willing to see Styles dating a slim white woman who conforms to their beauty standards than a larger Black woman, they claimed.

People also noted that there isn’t the same level of dating speculation when Styles is physically affectionate towards other men.

In this case, the contexts have to be considered, and it’s fair to suggest that the hand-holding with Wilde does seem more potentially romantic than platonic – although we can never know what goes on away from the cameras.

Still it’s always worth reminding ourselves of the restrictive beauty standards that exist for women in the entertainment industry, and how our biases play into what we read into a situation.

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