Beyoncé Talks Body Image and Breaking Barriers in 'Vogue' September Issue
“My mother taught me the importance not just of being seen but of seeing myself.”
Beyoncé’s groundbreaking September issue of Vogue has finally hit stands, and though Queen Bey did not sit for a traditional interview for the magazine, she had plenty to say.
In photo captions she wrote herself, she touches on self-acceptance, body image, and breaking barriers.
The singer was reportedly given unprecedented control over the issue, sources told HuffPost, and made history with her cover — the first in Vogue’s 126-year history to have been shot by a black photographer.
In the issue, Beyoncé reflects on the discrimination she faced early in her career and the progress she has made in spite of it.
“When I first started, 21 years ago, I was told that it was hard for me to get onto covers of magazines because black people did not sell,” she wrote. “Clearly that has been proven a myth. Not only is an African American on the cover of the most important month for Vogue, this is the first-ever Vogue cover shot by an African American photographer.”
The photographer Beyoncé chose to shoot her cover is 23-year-old Tyler Mitchell, whose work focuses on people of color.
“I depict black people and people of color in a really real and pure way. There is an honest gaze to my photos,” Mitchell told the New York Times last year.
And that shows in his photos of Beyoncé. The powerhouse singer took a similar approach to the shoot as well, largely forgoing make-up and choosing instead to show her most authentic and vulnerable self.
“I think it’s important for women and men to see and appreciate the beauty in their natural bodies. That’s why I stripped away the wigs and hair extensions and used little makeup for this shoot,” she said.
Beyoncé hopes that the historic cover and her work will help pave the way for the next generation of artists, and break down some of the barriers she faced on her path to success.
“It’s important to me that I help open doors for younger artists. There are so many cultural and societal barriers to entry that I like to do what I can to level the playing field, to present a different point of view for people who may feel like their voices don’t matter,” she wrote.
My mother taught me the importance not just of being seen but of seeing myself.
But it’s not just about creating opportunities for people — it’s also about representation. By just appearing on the cover of Vogue, Beyoncé is showing young girls, and in particular young girls of color, that they can be anything they want to be. She hopes that will encourage her own daughters to chase their dreams.
“My mother taught me the importance not just of being seen but of seeing myself. As the mother of two girls, it’s important to me that they see themselves, too — in books, films, and on runways. It’s important to me that they see themselves as CEOs, as bosses, and that they know they can write the script for their own lives — that they can speak their minds and they have no ceiling.”