FRIENDS. I have a feeling walking away from the superbowl that a lot of people – a lot of cool people – were most blown away not by the football but by the half-time show. Lots of my friends and family talked about Beyonce and what a good performance she put on. I’d like to leap into the fray briefly here — much as I have always cringed away from any sort of fandom — and use Beyonce and her performance last night to rhapsodize on the type of beauty I advocate on this website. Because womanhood is awesome, and Beyonce appears to be kind of sort of totally awesome at it.
All of which isn’t even to mention her dignity and feminism in the rest of her life outside of the superbowl, goodness.
1) Beyonce is fit, strong, and not a rail.
This is something everyone notices, and quite often, and that’s awesome. Beyonce is no stick, not by any means, and in that way she (unfortunately) stands apart from many of her peers and predecessors. However: she still has an “ideal” body. It’s still one of those bodies that we fantasize about having and lament that we just weren’t born with that hourglass shape. I get it. We shouldn’t ever idolize bodies, and I am in no way encouraging us to do so. Butas something towards which we orient ourselves, I could not think of anything more healthful or radiant than thick thighs, muscled arms, and unapologetic curves.
2) Beyonce is a hell of a dancer.
We have talked before over and over again about the physical power of our bodies, and I would like to drive this point home today. Our bodies are not just for their body fat percentage, but they are for providing the energetic and lively basis of our entire lives. Do we walk, bike, swim, dance, breathe, sing, move, at all? Do we feel good when we move? Do we enjoy the things that come from movement in our lives? Having the power to move is the power to be human, the power to be a woman in an inordinately complex, thrumming, vibrant machine.
When we can see past our image and our relationships with food, and let go of our rabid control, and rather just dance or move in some energized, harmonizing way, we become at one with our bodies. We get to delight in the transformative and happy power our bodies can give us, and we get to really thrum in the unity and freedom of our existence. Our bodies are delightful venues for movement and pleasure. With these experiences constantly in our lives, we automatically become confident, become more trusting of our bodies, and become happier, higher, stronger. It is not about our waist measurements: it’s about our ownership of our embodied and natural womanhood.
3) Beyonce is a master of determination.
When my mother commented on the half time show to me, the first thing she said was: “Wow, she worked hard.” She was right. It’s obvious from the elaborate staging, complex dance numbers, high energy of the show, percision, choreography, and so much more that Beyonce poured her heart and soul into the development of that performance. That’s what made it kick so much ass. She gave it – and her whole life – Herculean amounts of determination and strength.
Moving forward in our lives, whether we are trying to achieve peace with ourselves or to champion atheletic competitions or succeed in our professional lives, we need determination. Having an indominable will makes us unstoppable. And this whole notion is rooted in belief in ourselves: when we believe in our selves and in our mission–and when we have passion for our souls and for our goals–we move towards them with brilliant determination and faith.
Sometimes life is so difficult we want to walk away from it. Gods, do I ever understand that. It’s hard and painful and really, really sucks sometimes. But with determination — with an iron hard will to not give up on ourselves or our goals — with belief that we really can achieve whatever it is we have our minds on — then we are emboldened to really get it done.
It’s hard. It’s so hard. But determination pays off big in the end. Believe in yourself; believe in your mission; you’ll get there. I believe in me, and I believe in you. You’ll get there.
Don’t let the world get you down. Nothing worth having was ever easy, anyway. Accept that some undertakings are going to require a lot of your will, a lot of your life, a lot of your soul. But they can be so, gloriously worth it in the end.
4) Beyonce is fierce.
It’s possible that I wrote this whole article to get to this last point. Beyonce is confident and sexy — obviously — but far more importantly, in my opinion, Beyonce demonstrated unapologetic ownership of her body and herself last night, unapologetic (and still dignified!) sexuality, and unapologetic ferocity.
I really do think that these are the ideals that make up the most beautiful aspects of womanhood. Certainly not everyone has to agree. It would be a boring planet if they did. But when we do not apologize for who we are, when we accept everything about ourselves, including our “flaws” and our bodies, when we believe in the beauty and power of our own sexuality and self-love, then we can present empowered faces to the world.
Being fierce is sexy precisely because it demonstrates these things. It says:
“I know who I am, and I know all my virtues and vices. I own them. I am them. I am a woman in a natural body, and I have natural urges and emotions, and it’s all a part of this great, complex package of life and struggle and love and strife. I have a lot of love, and I have a lot of life in me. I have a lot of complexity to my body and my history. But it’s all good in my book. It’s all me, all a part of who I am. And I love and own and am unapologetically at peace with every bit of it. Check it out, I have nothing to be afraid of. There’s no reason for you to reject me, but if you do, that’s okay. I don’t fear you. I accept and believe in myself, and I delight in my physical body. I love my sexuality. I love my body. Check it out, I have nothing to be afraid of. You’d be lucky to have me. Come on, experience this radiance. Delight in it with me. I dare you.”
Pride, ferocity, joy, confidence, radiance — the ability to laugh and to sing and to wink and to play — these are the things that come from strength and love.
They are some of the most glorious delights of empowered womanhood, and they are virtues worth striving for.
I believe in almost nothing more than cultivating these attitudes in my life and in the lives of people around me. Why be afraid to live? Why be afraid to be open? Why be afraid to show who we are? We don’t have anything to fear in other people but rejection — but it’s almost certain that it’s not their business or interest to reject us anyway. They’re too busy worrying about their own rejection and pain.
Open yourself up to your true nature and the nature of people around you. Become comfortable in it. Accept where you have come from, and where you are, and get excited about where you are going. It’s hard to believe in and to love yourself — believe me, I know it — but the fruits of this adventure are so, so, deliciously and exaltingly sweet. It starts in accepting where you are, and in building a life that feels right and purposeful for you.
Natural womanhood is about owning who we are. It’s about life, and it’s about love. It’s about our natural bodies, and it’s about their ability to move, and to dance, and to give us energy. It’s about nourishing ourselves and loving yourselves, and taking care of these most precious bodies and these most precious brains we have the amazing gift of inhabiting for the next several decades.
Sometimes we let ourselves grow dim because we are afraid. But we do not have to be. We can be bright, and we can be brilliant, and in doing so, we can invite and empower others to be the same.
This is evolutionary womanhood.