I don’t think I need to clarify to anyone where I was this past Saturday at 9PM EST. Actually, at 8:50PM I was planted firmly in front of the television, counting down the minutes until Life is But a Dream debuted. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect–you just never know with Beyonce–and to say I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement.
Beyonce opened up the documentary touching on the thing we always seem to find ourselves talking about for her: achieving some sort of inner peace while maintaining her career as a commercially successful artist.
“At some point in my career I felt like I was doing way too much. I felt like I had been so commercially successful. It wasn’t enough. It’s something really stressful about having to keep up with that. It’s something really crippling. You can’t express yourself. I didn’t want to have to sing about the same thing for 10 more years. You can’t grow. I want to be able to sing about how much I hate myself that day if that’s how I feel and I felt like it was time for me to set up my future. So I set up a goal. And my goal was independence.”
This independence came in the form of a highly publicized split with her management, who just so happened to be her father. In moments like this Beyonce’s life epiphanies seem like they are pulled straight from a feminist novel of the 19th century. Woman gains independence from her father who has been in a position to make decisions for her all of her life. How romantic!
Anyway, I found this disclosure extremely timely given that folks are having some serious conversations about Beyonce being a narcissist and incapable of leading an emotionally fulfilling life because she keeps pictures of herself. Sigh.
“Forget being cool. Imma be honest. Imma be sad. Imma be passionate. Imma be vulnerable. I’m gonna sing from my heart.”
In perhaps the most honest and vulnerable moment of the entire documentary, Beyonce talks about being pregnant for the first time, hearing her baby’s heartbeat, and then going through the pain of a miscarriage. She mentions it again when addressing rumors that she may not have carried and delivered Blue Ivy.
“I respect mothers and women so much and to be able to experience bringing a child into this world, if you’re lucky and fortunate enough to experience that, I would never ever take that for granted. I mean, it’s the most powerful thing you can ever do in your life. And especially after losing a child. The pain and trauma from that just makes it mean so much more to get an opportunity to bring life into the world. It’s something that you have to respect.“
I saw a few pictures of Beyonce late in her pregnancy and I recognized that pregnant nose, but I still found the rhetoric about her potential surrogate harmful. Folks poked fun at the fact that Beyonce was possibly infertile or chose to have someone else carry a child for her. And I kept thinking: what a slap in the face to women who really aren’t able to conceive or carry naturally. What are we saying to women who do choose to have a surrogate for whatever reason? I talked before about celebrity pregnancies and our need to define womanhood through pregnancy and motherhood. And I was glad that Beyonce forced us to recognize her humanity.
But Queen Bey really spit the gospel when she talked about her relationships with other women. She said:
“We all need each other. And, you know, I have been around the world. I have seen so many things. I love my husband. But it’s nothing like a conversation with a woman that understands you. I grow so much from those conversations. I need my sisters.”
So much of Beyonce’s career has been centered around her relationship with Jay-Z, her relationship with her father, and even her being the “mean girl” in Destiny’s Child. In the times of Basketball Wives, Real Housewives of all the cities, and a bunch of other woman-hating fuckery on television, we need to be reminded at every opportunity that sisterhood was, is, and always will be powerful.