Is Beyoncé Creating an Impossible Standard for Pregnancy?

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12:  Recording artist Beyonce performs onstage during The 59th GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NARAS)

Is Beyoncé Creating an Impossible Standard for Pregnancy?

Or is she changing the game completely?

Published February 17, 2017

If you’re like me and have already procreated, you were thinking about one thing while watching Beyoncé perform at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards this past weekend. You were wondering how on earth she found the energy, the stamina and the physical strength to endure a live performance. On a table. In heels. While carrying not one, but two growing babies in her womb. This is an impressive feat for any woman to pull off, but it’s especially notable because this performance — and her recent photo spread pregnancy announcement — was her way of shaking off all the haters that attacked the legitimacy of her pregnancy with Blue.

This is, however, Beyoncé we’re talking about. She has proven time and time again that she is capable of breaking down every expectation placed before her all the while inspiring generations of women to follow suit.

But Beyoncé’s recent self-induced buzz comes just in time to serve as a much needed reminder to the world about the marvelous wonder that is a woman’s womb. Pregnant or not, we can all take heed.

#Gorgeous Dress designed by @peter_dundas ❣️♦️

A post shared by Beyoncé (@beylite) on

Barefoot, Pregnant and Dragged

The current fanfare surrounding Beyoncé is a far cry from that of her 2011 pregnancy with Blue. After a tragic miscarriage, Beyoncé announced her pregnancy on stage at the MTV VMAs. But the world didn’t seem to be satisfied with a storybook ending.

Speculation that she was faking her pregnancy and even wearing a prosthetic to fool the press circulated the blogs. Images of Beyoncé bending down to sit were analyzed under a microscope then hashed and rehashed on the talk show circuit (we remember, Wendy).

The rumors persisted despite a heartfelt statement Beyoncé made on her webcam while on tour:

“It’s something that you have to respect. People should have boundaries.

There’s certain things that you just shouldn’t play around with.”

It’s been proven time and time again that even when it comes to unborn babies, the media has absolutely no chill when it comes to criticizing women’s bodies. In 2013, while pregnant with daughter North, Kim Kardashian was dragged in the media for being what the public decided to be excessively overweight. In reality, she was battling preeclampsia, a rare condition affecting the kidneys. But the majority voice instead seemed to focus more on how uncomfortably large Kim appeared to be in all of her public appearances. And while the Queen Bey looks absolutely magnificent in all of her in utero glory, it actually brings up the question: is this too perfect? Like anything else Bey does, can anyone else do it just as well? Probably not. 

Close-ups of her shoestrap-imprinted feet and jokes about her over the top maternity style swarmed blogs and Twitter feeds. Memes were made, gifs were birthed in the wake of her growing belly and widening nose.

Whether or not we are members of the elite celebrity squad, women all over are generally held to an unreasonable standard that seems to come from a severe misunderstanding (dare I say, miseducation) about pregnancy in general. Not every woman carries baby weight the same. Some women have small bellies and small babies while others give birth to babies that are so big they have to go on bed rest. Complications and side effects of pregnancy combined with intricate lifestyles, dietary restrictions and household situations run the gamut. No two women are alike and neither are their pregnancies. The focus of attention should always be whether or not the mother and baby are healthy and happy — not how style appropriate her outfits are. Not how quickly she sheds the baby weight.

Surely we’ve progressed beyond the male-centric ideal of what pregnancy should look like.

A New Era in Women’s Bodies

Let's keep in mind that Beyoncé is a professional. As relatable as she seems in her music, she's not exactly like you and me. She is a lifelong trained and disciplined performer. She maintains her body and prepares her poise for the public eye as part of her job description. She grew up winning beauty pageants and stomping competitive stages. In short — Beyoncé is anything but a representation of normality. There are two scales in life: the excellence standard and the Beyoncé standard. But if we’ve learned anything about the power of women this year alone, it’s that our lives hold stories that should and will be told. That includes, but is not limited to women having babies, losing babies, or choosing not to have children entirely. Beyoncé has made quick work of publicizing her own trials. From infidelity to her complicated relationship with her father — it seems the days of Beyoncé remaining silent and smiling demurely have ended. We can only wonder what will be in store for Beyoncé as her pregnancy goes on.

Well, we know what's in store.

Some more weight, probably. Thicker legs and arms, swollen lips and cheeks. A waddle. Stretched skin, widened hips, shedding hair post-delivery and two beautiful reminders that life does in fact go on. And hopefully more epic performances as her condition allows.

If Beyoncé’s second pregnancy does for maternity issues what Lemonade did for Black Girl Magic, then let the gauntlet be thrown.

Written by Ashley Simpo

(Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NARAS)

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