There’s a lot of things one can say about the phenomenon that is BTS and their impact on the world, our mental health, and society as a whole. While we’re all blessed with good music from the group with every comeback, perhaps the biggest impact they bring is towards the transformation of popular thought across different cultures. Particularly in bending the stoic masculine molds perpetuated by yesterday’s thought leaders that may be harmful for others who wish to step out of them.
When the South Korean group first started gaining mainstream attention in America, which is typically where the world’s most popular contemporary trends and thinking come from, many people took notice of the fact that seven grown men were wearing makeup and dyeing their hair bright colors. As this was a far cry from the macho stereotype Western media and society loved to celebrate at the time, the group received a lot of nasty comments from the Internet and even big media personalities.
However, as the group’s skyward success preceded their reputation and they became more visible around the world, more and more people got used to the fact that straight men can wear makeup and dye their hair whatever color they want. A lot of fans also believe that this opened the path for more K-Pop groups to make the jump and try to break the American market, with the West being more open to this new type of genre and culture where gender norms (at least in terms of clothing and style) are a lot more fluid.
Now, something seemingly new that the Internet is going crazy for is BTS in skirts. When Big Hit Entertainment dropped new concept photos for the group’s latest comeback track “Butter”, fans were celebrating every little detail from the shoot, from new hair colors to attractive poses. But the biggest thing that got the Internet talking is members V and Jimin rocking denim and mini skirts.
As an article of clothing that society deemed appropriate for only women, the biggest boy group wearing it naturally sent a big ol’ message to the rest of the world. That is, that clothes don’t and shouldn’t have the power to make someone any less of a man.
What many people might not know is, this isn’t anything new for the band. Despite anti-fans’ accusations, the group’s not wearing skirts for clout now that they’re hugely successful and basking under the watchful (and overly critical) eyes of the world. In fact, BTS members have repeatedly worn skirts on and off the stage, as well as out of photo shoots, and we’d bet it’s purely because these men recognize the comfort and style it brings to one’s day. Something a lot of women can surely account for.
Fans, then, were quick to share all the instances from years ago where the members rocked skirts and dresses, even for casual wear—proving that it’s something that’s always been part of the band’s DNA since the very beginning.
Of course, this isn’t to say that BTS has revolutionized fashion and masculine stereotypes all on their own. Many huge Western and K-Pop personalities have done the same throughout the years, and of course, LGBTQIA+ icons have also made incredible and pioneering contributions to normalizing this fashion movement for cis and queer individuals.
Nonetheless, BTS as a group that’s currently influential everywhere taking part in this has the potential of making big chunks of progress in deconstructing popular thought surrounding fashion and gender. As mainstream media eagerly covers everything that they do, them wearing skirts hugely adds to the visibility of this trend. And as something becomes more visible and people get used to the fact, it dwindles down to something completely normal.
Additionally, the members wearing it out for casual wear speaks volumes on just how fashionable and comfortable they feel in a skirt. Wearing it out of their own volition, and not just because it looks good in a fashion shoot, further breaks down all the unnecessary rules regarding what we can and cannot wear.
Without a doubt, we still have a long way to go when it comes to breaking down stereotypes and redefining gender norms. But as a group that has consistently broken records and redefined history with their work, message, and advocacies, we have no doubt that BTS can help us achieve this too.