Well, here it is, at long last. The first-ever American Vogue cover to be shot by an African-American photographer. Beyonce agreed to appear on Vogue’s September issue cover, but Bey had demands: full editorial control, and she got to hire the photographer and approve of the images. This is the result. While I think it’s amazing that Tyler Mitchell is now a photographer with Vogue-cover credentials, I also think this just shows that even a groundbreaking moment for publishing can produce some lukewarm images. I know I should be super-jazzed about these photos, but I’m not really feeling most of them – you can see the full Vogue cover package here. As for the interview… of course it’s not really an interview. Beyonce dictated some thoughts to Clover Hope, who then wrote it up as a first-person essay in Beyonce’s voice. Queen B does not deign to give interviews, people. Some highlights:
The birth of Rumi & Sir: “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.
Jay-Z was supportive: “My husband was a soldier and such a strong support system for me. I am proud to have been a witness to his strength and evolution as a man, a best friend, and a father. I was in survival mode and did not grasp it all until months later. Today I have a connection to any parent who has been through such an experience.”
How her body felt after all of that: “After the C-section, my core felt different. It had been major surgery. Some of your organs are shifted temporarily, and in rare cases, removed temporarily during delivery. I am not sure everyone understands that. I needed time to heal, to recover. During my recovery, I gave myself self-love and self-care, and I embraced being curvier. I accepted what my body wanted to be. After six months, I started preparing for Coachella. I became vegan temporarily, gave up coffee, alcohol, and all fruit drinks. But I was patient with myself and enjoyed my fuller curves. My kids and husband did, too.
She actually used the word FUPA: “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.
The power of diversity: “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. Everyone has a say. Everyone’s voice counts, and everyone has a chance to paint the world from their own perspective.
The part about diversity was so pointed, I could feel Anna Wintour wince from here. Yes, we see you Nuclear Wintour. We saw your multiple covers for Blake Lively and we saw the length of time it took for you to include more diverse models in the magazine. I also appreciate that Beyonce is telling us about the twins’ birth, on her own terms. It’s none of our business and and she didn’t have to tell us anything, but if she did, I’m glad it’s on her own terms. It sounds completely brutal, my God.
What else? The cover story is really long and I couldn’t even get to half of the interesting stuff she said, about her ancestry and the history of “broken male-female relationships” in her family. There was only one part that didn’t ring true to me, and this is it: “I don’t like too much structure. I like to be free…” GIRL, KNOW YOURSELF BETTER. She doesn’t like someone else’s structure applied to her. Chica LOVES structure when it’s something she’s creating for herself. She’s a Virgo, and she is our PEAK VIRGO.
Covers courtesy of Tyler Mitchell for Vogue.