Let’s Not Lead with Our Butts

When a friend texted me a few months ago to see if I wanted to go to Beyonce with her, I didn’t think twice and jumped at the chance. I went in the clothes I’d gone to work in (comfortable) and wore the amount of makeup I wear to work (none). We had a couple of drinks and a bite to eat, and then walked over to the show. It was all pretty mellow.

Usually when I go to music, it’s a folk-ish show in a listening room. I sit, and I might sip on a drink, and I . . . listen. And appreciate. I don’t really know how to change my behavior for a stadium show like Beyonce’s, and I don’t really know how to blend in. So, when I saw all the butts, and the drugs, and the bitchiness — it made me sad. I left the show feeling really conflicted, and over the next few days as several people asked me how it was, my answer was conflicted too. “Shiny? But…Terrible? Confusing? Mesmerizing! And . . . frankly, Deeply Worrisome.”

And several times, I got these echoes back:

It’s just music.
Just listen, just enjoy.
It’s fun.
Don’t be conflicted. Relax.
She’s so pretty.
She puts on a great show.
It doesn’t matter.

But, here’s the thing. It does matter. It matters that tens of thousands of people are being empowered by a strong female who is actually a hot mess. If you really pay attention? She’s got some serious shit to work on. And that’s cool, so does everyone. But Bey, it’s misleading to act like you’re all-powerful.

And can we not just lash out and smash stuff when we’re angry? Because while that plays out beautifully on a stage, with sparkly underwear, as a performance, so many people don’t see this as just a performance. They see Queen Bey as their role model and I’m so, so worried that they’re falling in line with it instead of trying to find a calm and healthy path forward through adversity. We don’t need more anger, we need more wisdom, more empathy, more mindfulness.

And for fuck’s sake, more clothes.

We all stared at Bey’s butt for three hours. And it’s a good butt, don’t get me wrong. It’s got sparkles on it and it’s perfect, and she should be proud of it. But can we not lead with our butts? I would love it if the women of the world can be empowered to lead with their beautiful, captivating minds — and their kind hearts. That’s what I want for my daughter, and for your daughters. I want them to know how powerful their minds are, and I want everyone — of every gender — to appreciate them for that. But how will we get there without pants? Please, Bey. Please wear pants.

But, I say all this as someone who grew up on Madonna. Madonna is also a brilliant performer who frequently forgot her pants. And was absolutely a hot mess, too. And I turned out okay, or better than okay — and so did she. It didn’t wreck me and I don’t wear my bras on the outside now, not even at the gym.

Thinking about it forced to me to recognize that the difference is whether you view someone as a performer, or start taking them into your life as a subject matter expert. I thought about Madonna purely as an entertainer, never as a role model.

That will be the heart of it when I have this conversation with my daughter. I’m going to make damn sure she knows how to lead with her wonderful heart and her creative, amazing mind.

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