Beyoncé has released a new album, which means that thousands of people went without lunch this week and that people who dislike the woman and/or her music had a reason to let their hatred of all-things-Beyoncé be known.
I’ve only listened to the snippets of Beyoncé’s eponymous album so far, and some songs I really like, while other songs I find questionable to the ninth degree (“Bow Down/I Been In” has been renamed and joined with a TED talk by Chimamanda Adichie???) I’ll reserve judgement until I hear the album in full (which probably won’t be occurring any time soon). Although I haven’t heard the album, I’ve heard plenty of critique–both positive and negative–of the album, and I thought I would the most eye-rolling inducing of those critiques with you.
Here they are:
1. “Beyoncé is getting lighter and lighter…” First of all, Beyoncé’s skin tone has little to do with the quality of her music; if the music is good and you enjoy it (or don’t enjoy it) then that’s the most important. But, honestly, if Beyoncé had actually been becoming more fair-skinned over the years–this complaint, about her being light already and getting lighter has been around for years–then the women would be an albino by now, or maybe even completely transparent. Beyoncé is a lighter-skinned tone black women of mixed race ancestry and this fact doesn’t make her any less of a hard-worker or any less talented; after all, there are plenty of fair-skinned people who are not nearly as successful as Beyoncé, therefore it would not be fair or accurate to attribute most of B’s success to her skin tone.
2. “Beyoncé is too perfect.” Again, this has nothing to do with the quality and originality–or lack thereof–of Beyoncé’s music. And I actually think this complaint says something quite sad about the quality of life that some people accept as being normal. Beyoncé grew up in a loving, upper-middle class home with two married parents. Her father doted on her and took out numerous loans–almost bankrupting the family when Beyoncé was a child–in order to support his eldest daughters’ ambitions. According to public knowledge, Beyoncé has never been an addict of any sort, never been arrested, never been molested as a child like so many black women, never had a string of boyfriends who abused or mistreated her, and to some people these facts of Beyoncé’s life are bad…because? Because she’s had it too good. They want Beyoncé to suffer, and they want that suffering to be public. Beyoncé has revealed her miscarriage and vaguely discussed how difficult it was to terminate her father as her manager, but some people want more. Well, Beyoncé probably isn’t going to give you more, and you–and the general public in general–don’t deserve more. She has the right to keep as much of her personal life private as she chooses–its called being discrete–and her discretion does not impugn the quality of her music.
3. “Beyoncé’s husband is…a former drug dealer, ugly, has abused women, etc.” Yes, this is all true…about Beyoncé’s husband–not her! Look, I don’t know what goes between Beyoncé and her husband. She has chosen to look past whatever foibles that man has and to make a life and a family with him. I may not like Beyoncé’s husband but my dislike of Jay-Z has nothing to do with whether or not her music is any good. Should you be anti-Beyoncé because you are anti-Jay Z? I don’t know. That’s for you to decide. But I do believe that Beyoncé–like all people–should only be held responsible for own actions, and for this reason I can’t dislike her based on how I feel about Jay Z (thought I must admit that some of residue of your extreme displeasure with an individual will probably rub off, even just a little bit, on people who are closely associated with that person).
4. “Beyonce is blonder…and getting blonder” OK, I get it, beauty standards that are closer to the white female ideal are more acceptable to society at general and make it easier for Beyoncé to be as successful as she is. This is true. But no matter how light Beyoncé’s skin is or how bright her hair becomes, those things alone won’t make a person as successful as she is. White women have been dying their hair blond for ages, and most of those women are not even remotely famous. A woman has to have something–a je ne sais quo–some talent, something, that makes her appealing beyond just being light skinned with blond hair. Many artists go the blond route in order to make themselves more palatable to the general population (e.g. Shakira, Madonna, and Marilyn Monroe before them all). What part Beyoncé’s skin, hair and eye color have played in her success is debatable. However, it’s important to remember that she had no say in what skin color or eye color she would be born with, and it should go without saying–but I’m going to say it anyway–she should not be made to feel as if she needs to apologize her God-given and Clairol-given looks.
5. “Beyoncé is doing her part to promote an unhealthy body image.” Beyoncé is curvaceous and her body is amazing, but just because you don’t have a body like her’s doesn’t mean she is promoting oppressive beauty standards or encouraging young women to dislike their bodies. Beyoncé dances and sings for roughly two to two-and-a-half hours straight when she is on tour. In order to dance for hours on end every night and still have energy during the day she has to eat healthy and exercise; her eating and exercise habits keep her body tight and toned. And if you had to perform and practice the way Beyoncé performs and practices you would have a hot body too.
I think that about sums it up.
Do you have anything to add to the list of frivolous Beyoncé critiques that I missed?