Beyoncé is Fat Like Me
Updated: Oct 10, 2018
The morning that Beyoncé's Vogue cover and article were debuted, I was just getting out of bed getting ready for work. As I scrolled through my Insta feed while I pulled eggs out of the fridge for breakfast, I froze when I saw Queen Bey's flawless-dewy face staring back at me; her head adorned with a crown of flowers. I walked to my living room, sat on my couch, uploaded the article and devoured it. The first sentence of the second paragraph read, "I was 218 pounds the day I gave birth to Rumi and Sir." I paused and reread that sentence multiple times. I said to myself "Beyoncé was 218lbs; Beyoncé was 218lbs. Beyoncé was the same weight that I am now." Yes, it was pregnancy weight, yes she was housing and providing sustenance for 2 angelic babies who will one day rule the world; either way her proclamation was still important. Baby weight or not, women don't share their weight...its girl code; unless of course you are at a weight that is acceptable to societal standards or you've managed to lose the weight. Often times I talk about representation, that morning I stumbled on the golden egg of representation. Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter—first of her name, slayer of stages, snatcher of edges, mother to the saviors of the human race—shared her exact weight at her heaviest and celebrated her FUPA in the pages of the most important fashion magazine. That. Matters.
When I was maybe 10 years old my family and I attended a wedding. I remember everyone getting decked out and piling into the car; before my father pulled out of the driveway, he says, "Everyone looks amazing...except for Eunice. Eunice your dress is too tight, you don't look good." My entire life is made up of a collection of these memories with family members, so-called friends, classmates, and strangers. Every holiday was met with the standard greeting, "Gade jan Eunice gres se." "Look how big Eunice is." Have you had some random Facebook acquaintance send you ads for a weight loss supplements, I have, on multiple occasions. To be fat is to constantly be paraded around for auction to everyone's opinions and disdain about your body.
To be fat is to be offered up to everyone's opinion, but also banished to obscurity. In Roxane Gay's memoir Hunger, she perfectly articulated America's obsession with weight and the erasure of fat people, " ...I rage at the world that hates me for my body and how it is so markedly visible and the same world that forces too many girls and women to try their best to disappear. My rage is often silent because no one wants to hear fat-girl stories of taking up too much space and still finding nowhere to fit." The only time people care to discuss fat people is in the context of weight loss, because if you are fat you are worthless; but if you manage to lose the weight, you've earned the right to function as a normal human being. Beyoncé caved into the industry standards after her first pregnancy, forcing herself to drop the baby weight just 5 months after giving birth. She wasn't going to go through that again. Her refusal to drop the weight gave visibility to all the fat girls out there who are constantly pressured to lose weight in exchange for the right to be seen.
We're having a watershed moment in the entertainment industry where fans of differing identities are demanding to be seen including those of different body types. Actress Chrissy Metz on the hit show This Is Us is playing a fully fleshed-out plus-sized character instead of the typical fat/funny friend which has always been the industry standard. Her character is center stage with dreams and ambitions, loved and in-love, going through failures and successes, portraying an authentic lived experience of a fat person. It's also refreshing to see a character like Kelli on Insecure, played by Natasha Rothwell. Kelli is a full-figured and unabashedly sexual being. Where society says that fat people don't deserve to be desired and sexual, Kelli could catch any dude that she wants to with ease, never displaying any type of insecurity about herself or her body.
For the first time in my entire life, I've begun to see myself; a fat, black, nerdy, introverted, woman on TV and in movies. To have Beyoncé contribute to the conversation of body-positivity feels like a win; it’s a fat girl’s Super Bowl! To be clear, Beyoncé didn't have to state how much she weighed, I don't care how much she or anyone weighs. Having one less soul on the auction block of public criticism would be better for us all. Beyoncé took one for the team. She declared love and appreciation for her FUPA and is currently visibly displaying her FUPA every night on stage in an array of skin-tight leotards in front of sold out arenas; that's a powerful image. I saw myself reflected in one of the most powerful woman on the planet. For so many years the people in my life and society told me I wasn't good enough because of my weight; that I would always play second string to someone smaller than me. Post pregnancy or not, Beyoncé embracing her ever changing body, not succumbing to the celebrity pressures of dropping the baby weight, bringing a sense of normality to different bodies is hopeful. Bodies like mine demand to be seen and acknowledged. I wish I didn't need Beyoncé to make me feel good about my body; but until people can view fat people as just people, Beyoncé can be an honorary member of the 2 hundo club.