Though Beyoncé started her career at a young age, it seems like she assumed an elder statesman role very early on. In a culture that is constantly finding new faces and flushing out one-hit wonders, she made damn sure she would not be going anywhere. And she hasn't had to worry about being knocked off her throne in the ten years since her solo debut, reigning over pop music beside her similarly iconic husband Jay-Z. She's become an undeniable fact of American culture, a Madonna-caliber powerhouse with a speed dial to the Oval Office. Some call her our nation's Second Lady, while others venture far enough to call her First. People worship Beyoncé, and she absolutely asked for it.
She's a testament to the power of confidence-- self-esteem seems to run so deeply in Beyoncé's veins that she's almost immune to criticism. Indeed, she towers over culture like a human monolith, almost impossible to knock down. This power is unmistakably part of Beyoncé's image, described to a tee in Amy Wallace's recent GQ profile of the singer: "Beyoncé isn't just selling Beyoncé's music, of course; she's selling her iconic stature: a careful melding of the aspirational and the unattainable." Yet despite or perhaps because of Beyoncé's untouchable nature, she doesn't topple gracefully. Almost immediately after her performance at the 2013 Inauguration, fans began speculating that she lip-synched the national anthem. The usually ceaseless praise of "Queen Bey" turned into constant scrutiny until she confirmed that the rumors were true. Days later, Beyoncé turned out a Super Bowl halftime performance powerful enough to quiet anyone who still doubted her majesty. But while Beyoncé quickly saw the other side of a career-threatening scandal, she did not ease into her victory. Instead of taking comfort in a stellar performance, she soon popped up in the news again for attempts to remove unflattering Super Bowl photos from Getty Images. Team Beyoncé itself encouraged fans to seek these images out and get rid of them, but these requests turned what could've been private embarrassment into a public affair.
And for all of Beyoncé's golden goddess bravado, it's these cracks in her seemingly perfect facade that interest me. It's these moments where I see shreds of humanity, something of a growing, feeling human who inevitably makes mistakes. I rejoice at these snapshots into Beyoncé's soul, because for as much as I need an uber-confident woman dominating the public sphere, I can't quite relate to something that holds itself up to be out of this world. There is no vulnerability, no sensible struggle in such an immaculate exterior. When secure on her pedestal, Beyoncé is only as warm and inviting as the Venus de Milo, but even the Roman goddess is flawed. More so-- she is beautiful because of her flaws, not in spite of them.
It's the humanity in Beyoncé's recent slip-ups that really makes me eager for the Saturday premiere of her HBO documentary, Life is But a Dream. Hopefully, it will serve as her confirmation that she is, in fact, as fallible and small a person as any one of us. I'd be interested in seeing a different side of Beyoncé's boundless confidence in which she not only acknowledges her potential for mistakes, but embraces it. If she were to pull it off, it'd be her ballsiest move yet.
Image via ThinkProgress.Org.
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