You know the mythology of Beyoncé. She has won the admiration and respect of legions by flawlessly executing every single thing she does. Her albums are groundbreaking, and if you’re still on the fence about whether or not she is the greatest entertainer of our time, you will be convinced after you see her perform live. Her success is the definition of Black excellence, and even the company she keeps is a reflection of higher standards. Not only is she rich, famous, and beautiful, she is a fierce champion of marginalised groups and equal rights. Moving mostly in silence, Beyoncé allows us only morsels of information about her life through album releases and curated content on her website and social media properties. She is basically a demigoddess. From her style to her Instagram content, we live in a world where Bey is the closest thing to perfection that we laypeople have to look up to. But the most powerful woman in music is now going to some lengths to shatter that myth, and her new cover story for Vogue’s September issue has helped her land solidly on imperfect ground.
Written in her own words for the most prestigious issue of the magazine, the cover story consists of a series of mini essays on different topics like representation, body image, and even the health scare she experienced while trying to bring her twins — Sir and Rumi Carter — into the world. She had to have an emergency C-section after suffering from toxemia. Her twins had to spend weeks in the NICU. Bey even addressed the slightly protruding belly that used to house them; the one that has led so many people, myself included, to speculate whether or not she's pregnant again.
“I have a little mommy pouch, and I’m in no rush to get rid of it. I think it’s real,” she said. This is coming from the woman who bragged “I'm so nice, I'm everybody type, goddamn right / I'm so nice, Jesus Christ, I'm better than the hype, I give you life,” on her Everything Is Love album with Jay Z. The woman who has set a standard for beauty over the course of her two decade career is not at all sweating her post-baby body. These are strange times.
Yet, reading Beyoncé’s interpretation of her ancestry was the most powerful part of the profile for me. She claims that she exists as the result of a love affair between a slave owner and a slave. She contextualises this background — as it pertains to relationships — as “a lineage of broken male-female relationships, abuse of power, and mistrust.” She says that it wasn’t until she saw this lineage clearly that she was able to remedy the conflicts in her own relationship with Jay Z. She thinks that her fraternal twins, a boy and a girl, were a manifestation of this resolution. “I now believe it’s why God blessed me with my twins. Male and female energy was able to coexist and grow in my blood for the first time. I pray that I am able to break the generational curses in my family and that my children will have less complicated lives.”
This isn’t the first time that Beyoncé has publicly addressed the turmoil in her relationship. Her critically acclaimed 2016 album, Lemonade, was a sort of exposé that took listeners through the range of emotions the singer felt as she dealt with the reality of her husband’s infidelity. It was a bombshell for fans who heralded the Carters as relationship goals to find out that there was trouble in paradise. Jay would later give his version of events with his album 4:44 and confirm that he was unfaithful in interviews. It was a turning point for the couple that had spent their time being notoriously private. However, the story that was told through these two albums, and the subsequent tours to perform them both, was wrapped up in a neat bow. They went through a rough patch — thanks to Jay’s mistake — and they have made it to the other side. Everything Is Love and their ongoing OTR II tour have both been public declarations of their renewed relationship that is just as picturesque as it was before.
However, Bey’s admission that there was perhaps something in her blood, the very thing that sustains her, implicates a powerlessness that she shares with every last one of us: a history that she has no control over, one full of broken relationships and trauma. Beyoncé is no better equipped to handle that than any of us, and she wants us to know it. She is continuing a tradition she set on Lemonade that connects our individual circumstances that Black women face with our ancestral struggles and legacies. In her admittance that things are not all peachy, she has also illuminated a pathway to healing and acceptance. All of our imperfect selves can learn a little bit from that. To use her words: “Connecting to the past and knowing our history makes us both bruised and beautiful.”
The truth is that Beyoncé has a mommy pouch, and she’s still everybody’s type. It’s true that she fell into the same relationship trappings that her ancestors did, but she is now in a stronger relationship because of it, not in spite of it. All this time we’ve harped on the things that Bey does well and gets right. But it was her flaws that made her great all along.