All The Times Beyoncé Empowered Us To Be The Best Version Of Ourselves
Who runs the world? Beyoncé. Well, if only, but she certainly makes it a more flawless place.
So to mark Queen Bey’s birthday we’re publicly recognising the many, many times she’s shown us we’re all capable of running the world if we really want to.
From showing us we’re worth more than what people say about us, to proving women can be even more powerful when they stand together with her multiple female-led collaborations, Beyoncé never fails to empower us to be the best version of ourselves.
This is why we’ve taken the time to highlight all of the times she’s done exactly that, as a birthday gift to the queen herself – because yes, she will be reading this – and as a reminder that our worth is dependent on no one but ourselves.
The Time She Refused To Bow Down To Societal Expectations
Way back when in 2001, before ‘Bootylicious’ was added to the Oxford English Dictionary and when Bey was still a member of Destiny’s Child, she came up with the idea for a song that would change pop culture forever.
Fed up of being criticised for her weight by the media, she set out to write the ultimate comeback, using their body-shaming as inspiration to produce the now iconic lyrics: ‘I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly/ ’cause my body too bootylicious for ya, babe.’
In an interview with Newsweek at the time, Bey said she wrote Bootylicious because she was ‘getting bigger and bigger’ and just wanted to talk about it. ‘I like to eat and that’s a problem in this industry,’ she added.
‘I’m still probably twice as big any of the other actresses out there, and that’s a constant grind that I really hate to have to worry about,’ the singer concluded; brutal honesty that was practically unheard of in the industry at that time.
Basically, she showed every single woman out there – Beyoncé fan or not – that we’re worth more than what people say about us and we should just do what makes us happy, regardless of what anyone else thinks.
The Time She Showed Us Women Need To Stick Together
In 2009, when Kanye West stormed the stage during Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech during perhaps what is now the most infamous VMAs moment of all time, Beyoncé had already earned her superstar status.
How she handled the situation further solidified it though, when she stood up for a shaken and humiliated 19-year-old Swift just moments after West took the microphone out of her hand to say, ‘Yo, Taylor, I’m really happy for you, I’ma let you finish. But Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time!’
Clearly embarrassed, Bey proceeded to give the spotlight back to Taylor when she won the Video of the Year award for Single Ladies, first recalling the moment she won her first MTV award with Destiny’s Child at the age of 17: ‘It was one of the most exciting moments of my life.’
Then, instead of giving her own acceptance speech, she invited Taylor up onto the stage and told the crowd, ‘So I’d like for Taylor to come out and have her moment.’
By handing the mic to her instead of celebrating her own achievements, Beyoncé allowed Taylor to reclaim her win as her own, giving the rising singer her moment while showing every single person watching that it’s way more important to pull people up than push them down.
The Other Times She Lifted Up Women In The Industry
Of course, standing up for T-Swift was no doubt an iconic moment, but it’s just one of many times Mrs Carter has lifted up other successful women in the music industry during her career.
Need I remind you of her multiple female-led collaborations: Telephone with Lady Gaga; Flawless with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and then later remixed with Nicki Minaj; Feeling Myself with Nicki Minaj; and Savage with Megan Thee Stallion… to name just a few.
And while each of the songs made their mark individually – ahem, they were all absolute bangers – it’s by looking at them as a whole that we come to realise just how important Bey’s influence has been.
It’s no secret the industry is constantly trying to pit women against each other; you only need to take a look at how Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood were set at odds with each other for years, or how Cardi B and Nicki are still being portrayed as enemies despite both dominating the rap game, to see how rare it is for women to be celebrated without some form of competition involved.
Yet by joining forces with other successful women and breaking the mould, Bey has proven time and again that women can be even more powerful when they stand together. And we got the perfect girl power music video out of it in the form of the Telephone video. What more could we ask for?
The Time She Celebrated Black Culture With A Visual Album
Perhaps Beyoncé’s most empowering moment came with Lemonade, her sixth studio album and second visual album. Although at first glance, the album appeared to centre around adultery and the actions of her husband, its true focus was the celebration of Black culture – specifically Black women.
‘The most disrespected person in America is the black woman,’ Malcolm X stated early in the video in archival footage, reminding anyone watching of the struggles faced by Black people every single day – a point further emphasised by several of the album’s shooting locations, which included old plantations.
With Lemonade, Beyoncé unapologetically placed Black women front and centre: the stylistic choices throughout, from the hairstyles of the women who appeared to their makeup and outfits, all linked back to African-American culture.
The celebrity cameos, which included Serena Williams, Winnie Harlow, Zendaya, Amandla Stenberg and Quvenzhané Wallis to name just a few, were all successful Black women who have faced public scrutiny because of the colour of their skin.
With Lemonade, Beyoncé told the world that Black women matter. She told the world that Black women deserve to be lifted up, that they deserve to be celebrated. And in doing so, she inspired an entire community to stand up and back themselves.
The Time She Lifted Up A Global Movement With Yet Another Visual Album
Black is King, intended as a celebration of the ‘breadth and beauty of Black ancestry’, went hand-in-hand with the Black Lives Matter movement. ‘The events of 2020 have made the film’s vision and message even more relevant, as people across the world embark on a historic journey,’ the singer wrote on Instagram.
Released at a time when Black people around the world are protesting against racial inequality and injustice amid the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and many more, the musical film resonated with so many, on so many different levels.
Although the film serves as a visual companion to the 2019 album The Lion King: The Gift, its purpose can be more clearly seen in the way it is shot – in locations such as Nigeria and Ghana – and the people it features.
Co-directed by Kwasi Fordjour, Black is King also features African creatives such as Wizkid, Yemi Alade and Tiwa Savage, with Beyoncé yet again telling Black stories using the voices of Black people to speak directly to the Black community.
The importance of doing so cannot be understated; at a time when Black people can’t even go for a run, or to the shops, or even sleep in their own homes without being killed, Beyoncé used her status to give them a voice and to ‘let Black be synonymous with glory’.
The Multiple Girl Power Anthems She Wrote
Last but not least, who could forget Queen Bey’s numerous songs celebrating women and all we can do? From Run the World to Ego, from Pretty Hurts to Flawless, she continues to champion all things female while empowering entire generations through her music.
In Diva, she reclaims the word typically used to define women as temperamental and difficult to please, explaining it’s simply ‘the female version of a hustler’. She then goes on to describe herself as one, singing: ‘I’m a diva, best believe her, you see how she gettin’ paid?’
She stands up for the woman who wants it all but who has been told time and time again she can’t have it in Run the World (Girls): ‘We’re smart enough to make these millions / smart enough to bear these children / then get back to business.’
Through her music, Beyoncé takes our insecurities – our feelings of guilt, self-doubt and unworthiness – and flips them on their head, showing us we can be anything we want to be as long as we just believe in ourselves.
And she does all of that while being her own success story, ultimately being one of the most successful solo artists of all time, a loving wife and doting mother all in one fell swoop.
What a queen. Happy birthday, Bey.
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