For the first time, Vogue Magazine opened its doors and handed over its printer to allow a new voice to be heard on its famous pages. The September issue of Vogue is always the magazine’s most anticipated of the year, and this year the pages were edited and curated by Beyoncé.
Looking stunning in a stripped down and ethereal photoshoot, Beyoncé gave a candid interview about some of the most personal aspects of her life, including motherhood, her marriage, her family ancestry and why it was important to her to select a photographer of colour to shoot her latest cover for Vogue.
Approaching motherhood differently the second time around with the birth of her twins Rumi and Sir, Beyoncé said she learned from the birth of her first daughter and decreased the pressure she put on herself to get back to her pre-pregnancy weight quickly. “After the birth of my first child, I believed in the things society said about how my body should look. I put pressure on myself to lose all the baby weight in three months, and scheduled a small tour to assure I would do it. Looking back, that was crazy,” said Beyoncé.
“I was still breastfeeding when I performed the Revel shows in Atlantic City in 2012. After the twins, I approached things very differently.” Revealing scary complications with the twins’ birth, Beyoncé writes “I was 218 pounds the day I gave birth to Rumi and Sir. I was swollen from toxemia and had been on bed rest for over a month. My health and my babies’ health were in danger, so I had an emergency C-section. We spent many weeks in the NICU.”
Crediting husband Jay Z with being a ‘soldier’ and a ‘strong support system,’ Beyoncé said she spent months in survivor mode and now has a new appreciation for parents who have experienced difficult births.
Following her C-section, Beyoncé said she made health changes, including going vegan and embracing her curvier figure. This mindset inspired her look for the Vogue cover shoot, saying “I think it’s important for women and men to see and appreciate the beauty in their natural bodies. That’s why I stripped away the wigs and hair extensions and used little makeup for this shoot.”
Reminding women that it’s okay to not bounce back to your pre-pregnancy size, Beyoncé even used the slang term FUPA, which stands for Fat Upper Pubic Area, when discussing her new normal. “To this day my arms, shoulders, breasts, and thighs are fuller. I have a little mommy pouch, and I’m in no rush to get rid of it. I think it’s real. Whenever I’m ready to get a six-pack, I will go into beast zone and work my ass off until I have it. But right now, my little FUPA and I feel like we are meant to be.”
Beyoncé said that she’s begun looking at her family history to learn how it has influenced her and in turn, her children. Touching on the cheating scandals of both her father and her famous husband, Beyoncé says “I come from a lineage of broken male-female relationships, abuse of power, and mistrust. Only when I saw that clearly was I able to resolve those conflicts in my own relationship. Connecting to the past and knowing our history makes us both bruised and beautiful. I researched my ancestry recently and learned that I come from a slave owner who fell in love with and married a slave. I had to process that revelation over time. I questioned what it meant and tried to put it into perspective. I now believe it’s why God blessed me with my twins. Male and female energy was able to coexist and grow in my blood for the first time. I pray that I am able to break the generational curses in my family and that my children will have less complicated lives.”
In addition to breaking down barriers about women and their bodies, specifically mothers, Beyoncé also used her time at Vogue to make history by hiring the first black photographer to shoot a Vogue cover. That’s right, the first black photographer to shoot the cover of a magazine that’s been around for 125 years. Again, that’s 125 years. To say it’s about time would be a gross understatement.
“When I first started, 21 years ago, I was told that it was hard for me to get onto covers of magazines because black people did not sell. Clearly that has been proven a myth. Not only is an African American on the cover of the most important month for Vogue, this is the first ever Vogue cover shot by an African American photographer,” said Beyoncé.
Teaming up with 23-year-old Tyler Mitchell, Beyoncé said that it’s important for her to open doors for younger artists. “If people in powerful positions continue to hire and cast only people who look like them, sound like them, come from the same neighborhoods they grew up in, they will never have a greater understanding of experiences different from their own. They will hire the same models, curate the same art, cast the same actors over and over again, and we will all lose. The beauty of social media is it’s completely democratic.”
— Tyler Mitchell (@Tyler_Mitchell_) August 6, 2018
Mitchell’s history-making cover puts him in the same company as Beverly Johnson, who in 1974 became the first black model to be featured on the cover of Vogue and Naomi Campbell, who was the first black model to appear on the cover of the famous September issue. But change has been slow for the magazine, which, apart from the aforementioned women, Halle Berry and Beyoncé, has yet to feature any other women of colour, including Asian or Latina, on the cover solo.