I watched that performance again today, because I have to tell you, I couldn't remember the "gyrating" and other things some lamented about. And I guess they were there, but it was just a Beyonce performance, exactly what I was expecting.
Beyonce and I have been friends for a long time. When she was a member of Destiny's Child, we would spend time on the elliptical at the gym each night after long, stress-filled days at work. For the person who grew up shunning all things athletic, I felt strong for the first time as I would increase inclines and track my time. I wasn't worried about numbers on a scale or measurements on a tape measure. But I was proud of myself as I allowed myself to feel for the first time like a woman. If Beyonce, who at the time shocked people for not having that stick skinny body everyone wanted, could strut and dance proudly, then I could too. I thought for the first time that I could love my body, curves and all.
And when I was the new, young, district manager, and the world looked down on me and I was subjected to backstabbing and gossip, Beyonce and her girls rallied our group of stores and we would sing, "I'm a Survivor" as we pumped out stock from the back room, audited paperwork, and did floor sets. And years later, when my rankings went up and I was helping give leadership training to people in the business the same length of time that I had been alive, Beyonce was whispering and singing in my ear the whole time.
It's something I feel like I shouldn't admit. We are part of a society that values women based on how we look. We set up unrealistic and arbitrary standards as to what makes a woman beautiful, attractive, and the right weight and size. And it is wrong. It is hurtful. It is destructive. And I don't want that for my three beautiful girls. I will break anyone who tries to judge them or define them.
I am supposed to say something here about learning to love myself as I am. That is the strong thing to do. To accept myself and show my girls that I am proud of who I am on the outside.
But I'm not, and here is where I'm probably going to lose you.
Don't get me wrong, I know my intrinsic worth and value have nothing to do with what size my jeans are. But the jeans that I am wearing? They don't feel like mine. These are the jeans of a tired mom who has three very young children and hasn't made time to go to the gym. Who didn't take good care of herself during the last pregnancy and never lost any of that weight. These are jeans that I have never worn before. And I am done with them.
For the strong women who are owning their bodies and working it out, I am standing up, giving you a slow clap. I am so proud of you. But for me, here in this moment, the strongest, most honest thing I can do is to say I want to change and that I am not comfortable in my own skin.
So I take my girls to the gym with me, and they get to play while I hit the elliptical. And when my girls ask what I am doing, I tell them I am exercising so I can stay active and healthy and be strong.
I pick out my machine, the one out of close to 50 that I like best, and I plug in my iPhone and hit play. And Beyonce sings to me. I get lost in her words, her music, and my tired mom legs get stronger and go faster. I think about my jeans. I think about the jeans I used to wear, and just when discouragement and fatigue start to set in, I think of Beyonce dancing and it makes me smile. And I work a little harder, go a little faster, and try not to sing out loud, "All the Single Ladies."
I don't know what you saw on Sunday night, when you saw Beyonce perform. But I know what I saw. I saw a woman who is proud of herself, her talent, and her body.
When it comes down to it, when I see Beyonce, I don't think sex. I think woman, artist, entrepreneur, wife, and mom. And that's something I hope my girls think about me too someday.
Many thanks to some of the amazing women who have shared their perspectives on Beyonce and her performance this week: Suzannah, Joy, and Alyssa.