This is a picture of Beyoncé, who was shot by Ellen von Unwerth for Spain’s DT Lux magazine in February of this year – just one month after giving birth to baby Blue. She looks, quite simply, incredible.
Beyoncé it seems has been one of the most beautiful famous women in the world for almost as long as I can remember. She has amazing skin, striking features and a body to die for. I’ve lost count on how many articles I’ve read over the years about how to copy her look, her diet and her exercise regime. And there must be as many other out there that have passed me by. Tips from Beyoncé’s nutritionist, personal trainer, stylist and hairdressers are marketed to women all over the world so that they can try to recreate her style.
What I’ve yet to read is a single article which explains why on earth anyone would ever want to.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a massive fan of Mrs Jay-Z; actually more so after the research I’ve done for this piece. She gets so much done in a day than most people do in a year that I’d go so far as to say that she’s a wonder of the modern world. But that’s the basis of my argument really.
To get in shape for that photo shoot Beyoncé apparently worked out for nine hours a day for five days a week. Nine hours a day. And she had a newborn.
To lose weight for film roles and high-profile appearances Beyoncé allegedly uses the maple syrup diet. This diet includes no solid food and requires the dieter to exist on a mixture made of lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and water. Er, sounds delicious.
It’s clearly working well for her. But for the rest of us average women surely such a regimen, or anything like it, would have to fail any kind of cost-benefit analysis. To look as good as Beyoncé, or any other celebrity you care to name you’d have to put the same amount of work in as they do. You’d probably also have to spend the mount of money on hiring a chef, a personal trainer, a hairdresser and a make-up artist, as well as having your clothes designed and made especially for you.
And this would improve you’re life in what way?
Beyoncé isn’t just a woman, she’s a global brand. According to celebritynetworth.com she’s worth $300 million. As well as a singer and actress, she’s also a business woman. And her product is her image. She’s sold over fifty million records, launched numerous fragrances and negotiated a string of lucrative endorsements on the strength of the popularity of her music and the way she looks.
Looking like Beyoncé is Beyoncé’s job.
Which makes working hard on her appearance a no brainer, after all, if I neglected a part of my job I’d fully expect to lose it. But if I trained for nine hours a day it would make no discernible improvement to my career. Having rock hard thighs and a wash board stomach wouldn’t make me any better as a housing lawyer. Needing a whole team of people to help me would only serve to make me look incompetent. In fact nine hours in the office plus nine hours in the gym would lead to a burnout pretty quickly.
It wouldn’t improve my social life or relationships either. I wouldn’t have time for any.
Barmen and night club bouncers might be nicer to me. More people men might talk to me in bars. But that’s about it. So it hardly seems to be worth it for me.
Aspiring to look like a celebrity is comparable to harbouring an ambition to build a multi-national company or become a member of the cabinet.
While many people start out with dreams of becoming rich and famous, or of reaching the top of their profession, the reality is that most people eventually settle for being good enough at what they do. They eventually decide that they don’t think the rewards would be worth the sacrifices they would have to make to achieve them and then they find ways to be happy with what they have.
I’ve always taken the same view when it comes to my appearance.
I’m 5’7″ and a size 12-14. My skin is okay when it isn’t broken out in eczema, and my hair looks great when it’s manageable and crazy when it isn’t. But I scrub up well enough to look presentable and professional. Children have never run away from me screaming and I’ve always been able to get dates. That’s as much as I need for the life that I want, and that’s good enough for me.
6 thoughts on “Body Image and Beyoncé”
Really great post. You make some awesome points. As a first time mum myself, I could work out 9 hours a day to feel good about my body as an individual, but I’d be shortchanging my son of the best of who I am (too burnt out from juggling 9 hours of exercise with babywrangling or just plain not there) and I am not willing to do that. I think for a mere mortal like myself – everything is good in moderation. In saying that, I think I do need to exercise a tad more – the endorphins and such would be a good boost this winter!
It sounds like you’re making much better use of your time.
She is on my list, along with the Olympic swimmers, of people I keep in mind for motivation when I’m exercising. They can do all the crazy stuff they do, so it has to be possible for me to manage my comparatively little bit, even when it doesn’t feel like.
Wonderful post and I completely agree with you on every point. The other thing to take into consideration is that it seems there is almost no such thing as a non-photoshopped image anymore. I highly doubt that Beyonce rolled out of bed that morning looking like she did in that photo, weird maple chugging diet or not.
Now that I am in my 40s, I look at the women I grew up with who are now out there flogging skin creams and hair dye. The ads and commercials look so overexposed and airbrushed that the women don’t even have pores, never mind wrinkles. There was a Lancome ad with Julia Roberts that recently got banned in the UK for false advertising due to excessive airbrushing. The perfection we are striving for doesn’t exist.
I know what you mean. And there’s a reason why my camera cost a few quid and Ellen von Unwerth’s likely costs a few fortunes. All those lenses and lighting things do stuff that’s worth the money.
I absolutely love this post – and it’s all absolutely true. I know exactly what you’re talking about. I’m a college student, work weekends at a children’s party place, and I suffer from eczema as well (arms and legs). I was born premature so I’m naturally small and have this “image” that many continuously congratulate me for. I don’t mind it, but I remind others that I didn’t get this “image” that I did from working for it or anything. I just have it.
I work out to gain strength and I eat perhaps more than I should to probably gain some weight (that just isn’t happening), but really, to look like Beyonce, bless her, is an undertaking not worth it at all.
I find people need to just be able to be comfortable in their own skin and if they can’t, they need to start to do the healthy things to get to their comfortable (or what they perceive as comfortable) state.
Reassuring to know I’m not he only one who thinks so. Glad you liked the post 🙂
Spending a bit of time running to keep your heart healthy so it doesn’t turn round and kill you is always going to to be time well spent. Other than that there are so many other things to be doing.