Following weeks of speculation surrounding the birth of her twins, Beyoncé has finally taken to Instagram to officially announce their arrival and reveal their names. But does the impossibly beautiful photo merely celebrate her joy at their arrival – or does it serve to shame new mums who feel they can’t match up to her perfection? Here, freelance writer and mum-of-two Lucy Paget has her say.
Oh Bey. We expected nothing less, but we deserved so much more.
In the last few years you have proudly described yourself as a feminist, declared the message behind your 2013 self-titled album was “finding the beauty in imperfection” and then in 2016’s Lemonade you released beautiful songs about the difficulties you had endured in your marriage. But there is no such honesty or celebration of imperfection in this picture.
Supposedly released to celebrate the arrival of your twins, the eye is immediately drawn to your completely flat stomach, unblemished and seemingly unaffected by the physiological effects of carrying two babies for nine months. You may well have a completely flat stomach already, having been in exceptional physical health before falling pregnant, and you probably followed a tailored exercise program during your pregnancy which will help your body recover.
But this is not an argument about how quickly you got your “old” figure back. Neither is it a rant aimed at women who put no weight on at all during pregnancy and leave hospital in their pre-pregnancy clothes.
No one is under any illusion that you have a different life to almost all of us, with an army of people behind the scenes who help run the Beyoncé show and more time than most to dedicate to your physical health. We also know you have an image to project, and that this image has been carefully crafted over 20 years in the business. It is inextricably linked to everything you do – you are an awesomely talented, triple-threat powerhouse. So why does it matter?
It matters because you know how unhelpful and damaging this picture is. You know because you have written songs about the subjugation of women and how striving for perfection has hindered your generation and will be even more dangerous for the next, bombarded as they are by Photoshopped images, body-shaming and insta-perfect celebrities.
Read more: Beyoncé shares first photo of newborn twins
It matters because pregnancy changes your body, but this pictures pretends that it doesn’t. Growing and birthing a child is a beautiful thing, but many women don’t feel beautiful while pregnant, and they feel even less so a month into life with a newborn. Some women recover physically very quickly after birth, but for almost all women giving birth leads to a long process of learning to feel comfortable with a new body.
It matters because this image is not of a woman celebrating the birth of two new lives. It is a celebration of beauty and physical perfection – the very things you say a woman should not be defined by.
You are an icon of our time and your influence is immense, not only on your legions of fans, but also on the media. When you comment people listen, and this seems like such a wasted opportunity to continue your message of female empowerment.
By releasing an image so clearly set up to display the apparent lack of effect that this latest pregnancy has had on your body, you have once again put the spotlight firmly on the image of a perfect appearance above all else, and in doing so, you have damaged us all.
In your own words: “Perfection is a disease of a nation”.