In one, Watson stands in a large elaborate frame, transforming herself into a piece of art. In another, she stands like a statue. And in a third, she stands facing the camera head-on while wearing a chunky, white knit top that shows a fair amount of cleavage and under-boob. Her arms are crossed and her mouth is slightly agape. Many people on the internet are criticizing the skin-baring photo. Others, namely super fans of Beyoncé and members of The Beyhive, are deeming her a total hypocrite.
Within hours of the VF story going live on the magazine's site late last week, The Beyhive got in formation to quickly rip apart the Harry Potter actress after finding a 2014 interview with Watson were she makes various comments about Beyoncé's take on feminism. The quotes from the three years old interview were pulled from a story that originally appeared in Wonderland magazine, where Watson was interviewed by the writer, actress, and prominent youth figure, Tavi Gevinson. During their conversation, the topic of Bey came up (she had just released Beyoncé earlier that year). Watson said she felt that Beyoncé's music videos were being seen through a male voyeuristic lens, even though the singer's lyrics and mission fully represent modern feminist ideals. This was polarizing to Watson, who said she felt "conflicted" on whether Bey upheld the feminist ideas she spoke about in tracks like "***Flawless." Noting the apparent hypocrisy, Twitter sarcastically used Watson's own words against her.
Beyoncé fans were not wrong to mock the 26-year-old though. Celebrities should be held accountable for what they say publicly — but they didn't have the whole story. And Watson, after seeing the criticism, decided to fix that. She responded to the hive by providing context to her quote that had resurfaced.
After reading the full interview, many were able to find a middle-ground, noting that Watson has both matured since she made that criticism, and also eventually did say she felt the entire album and music videos were "so inclusive and puts feminism and femininity and female empowerment on such a broad spectrum." Basically, Watson did not diss Beyoncé. She shared a critique, then circled back around to the point, concluding that Bey's music and image was indeed a strong, powerful, and essential voice for all feminists.
This whole scenario just exemplifies the difficulties in defining feminism — it's always messy because there are many misconceptions about what it means to simply want women to be given the same opportunities, chances, and respect as their male counterparts. This, I think, is the type of feminism Watson identifies with most — workplace feminism. But in terms of approaching the crossover between empowerment and sex appeal? It gets more complicated. And it gets extremely personal. There's no right or wrong way to "be a feminist" whether you're a male or female.