The Internet is pretty mad at Beyoncé right now. Last Monday on “Good Morning America” she “unveiled” that her vegan diet helped her lose weight and keep it off her self-described naturally curvy body. Granted, this is not the breakthrough of the century. We already knew that Beyoncé has been sort of vegan for awhile now. It’s also nothing new—plenty of people extol the virtues of veganism for health and weight loss. So why is it so inflammatory coming from Queen Bey?
There are two main reasons folks were let down by the over-hyped announcement on “Good Morning America.” Some were disappointed that the announcement wasn’t bigger. The teaser previews of the episode had left fans thinking that Beyoncé would either be going on tour or having another baby. Others were disappointed that Beyoncé was selling a diet in the first place.
But we can’t be mad at the women we admire when their news doesn’t live up to our expectations. Complaining on Twitter that Beyoncé isn’t pregnant or that she’s “weak” for endorsing a diet plan delegitimizes her as a businesswoman and does a disservice to the feminist message we love Bey for extolling.
Beyoncé As A Musician
Fans of Beyoncé expect a huge announcement to be related to her main career as a performer. This, I get. “Good Morning America” made it sound like everyone was going to get a personal Beyoncé performance at their next birthday party.
But it’s important to remember that consuming her music is not the number one way we can support Bey. This doesn’t mean you have to to jump on the 22 Day Vegan Plan yourself, but it does mean being respectful of Beyoncé’s business decisions.
Beyoncé As A Mother
Beyoncé is a woman who has made a baby. Coincidentally, she made that baby with another music superstar, so this baby is extra important to everyone. So when a huge show like GMA hypes a big Beyoncé announcement, naturally everyone gets excited for baby number two.
But what does that say about our perception of women if Beyoncé’s only two options are to be a performer for us or make another baby we can look at? If she is not doing one of these two things, she has wasted our time. I’d like to suggest that “Good Morning America” wasted everyone’s time, by poorly promoting an announcement from Beyoncé.
Beyoncé As A Feminist Woman
I was particularly riled up when the Huffington Post ran this piece critiquing Beyoncé for “stoop[ing] to plug diet advice.” I think Bratskeir thinks she’s doing feminism a solid by slamming Beyoncé for promoting her new business endeavor. She writes, “Beyoncé owned her body in a way that felt powerful. And surrendering that power in order to promote a diet book doesn’t feel relatable or real; it feels weak.”
The last time I checked, Beyoncé was still very much in control of her body. She’s so much in control of her own life, in fact, that she’s making a lucrative business decision to partner with her personal trainer to launch her new meal plan service. Beyonce is hardly peddling a crash diet, pills, or anything unsafe or unsavory. Apparently the desire to look good is not allowed in Bratskeir’s feminism.
Bratskeir’s conclusion that Beyoncé has reduced herself and giving up her power to promote a savvy business deal is the real anti-feminist message. Many women struggle to “lose weight and keep it off.” Many women have naturally curvy bodies that they would like to maintain at a certain level of physical fitness—for themselves. The notion that wanting to lose weight and look a certain way is equivalent to weakness is not feminist. It reduces Beyoncé’s business decision to nothing but pandering for money and attention.
Beyoncé should be able to use her business prowess and her space to promote a product that women in her market want. Just like it’s OK to love your curves and whatever weight your body happens to be, it is also OK to want to lose some weight and keep in shape in a healthy and responsible way. She should be able to make huge announcements without everyone wondering if she has a bun in the oven. She should be allowed to diversify her business portfolio and her brand identity in whichever way she pleases as long as she is not harming anyone or promoting something that is unhealthy and harming.
To allow her anything less is decidedly not feminist.
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