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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Open Letter to Beyoncé After the Met Gala Dress Made Us Look

Dear Beyoncé,

I remember being a 20 year-old college basketball cheerleader and shaking my pom-poms to the beat of ‘I’m a Survivor’ and ‘Independent Woman,’ the latter of which became my personal anthem my Sophomore year of college. This was just a few years before Facebook, or should I say Myspace, because it was Myspace that made it ‘big’ first.

I loved you. I envied you. You were beautiful. You could sing. You were my age. I loved your clothes. I loved your hair. You sang about being an ‘Independent Woman’ That was me. I WANTED TO BE YOU. But not in a crazy, like stalker, over-obsessive way. I just thought that you were great.

My 20 year-old self was healthy, thin, active, and - also, insecure, easily manipulated, a bit selfish and more superficial than I care to admit. You see, I wasn't happy. I thought that the things that would make me happy were, the looks, the weight, the boyfriend, the hair, the makeup, the ‘stuff’. This continued for years. When Myspace came, I was one of those young ladies who would only post beauty pageant and provocative photos. You know, the ones where I looked great: one hand on my hip, chin slightly lowered, with a cheeky grin and god-forsaken green colored eye contacts. I wanted people to see me. I wanted my friends to see me. I wanted my boyfriend to see me. And I wanted them all to think two things about me. THAT. I. LOOKED. GREAT. THAT. I. WAS. HAPPY. Back then, others' perception of me mattered. Alot.

Fast-forward now to my 33 year-old self. When I saw your photos on Facebook, I wanted to cry. You looked great. I mean you do have a fantastic body. But your photos gave me a heavy heart at the same time. I saw sex or a desire to be looked at in a sexual way. A desire to turn heads, but not for the right reasons. I saw lots of makeup. I saw big hair. I saw a big smile. I saw someone whose focus was much more on what’s on the glittery outside than the substance of who they are.

You see, for me, now at 33, I’ve long said goodbye to the fit little figure of my cheerleading days in exchange for a body that’s given birth 3 times. I wear light make-up very rarely. The only time I expose my body in public is that split second when I am latching my son on to nurse. Shame on those who stare. I eat well but don’t stress too much over my weight. Most of my Facebook pictures are of my 3 adorable kids and those that I am in, actually look like me. I. THINK. I. LOOK. GREAT. I.AM. HAPPY. I am comfortable in my skin. I don’t buy into ‘Hollywood.’ I understand that I have a voice and personality and have the power to implement change, even if it is only on a small scale. I want to make this world better. And, I binned those colored contacts, because, as my husband puts it, “You never needed those anyway.” Awe.

And yes, Beyoncé who am I to judge you? I am no one. I, honestly, am no one at all. I am a woman, a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend. I am lots of things, none of which is ‘famous.’ But you, you are famous. You are in such a powerful position. Millions of little girls and young women look up to you, as I did. They want to be like you. Millions of men see you as the perfect woman. You have the power to show women and girls depressed about their body image that ‘beauty’ does not come in only one size, one figure and neither does happiness. You have the power to show men and boys that sexy is not  measured solely by exposed skin and that women should be respected and loved.

I saw you and your MET dress and thought about what my daughters would think if they saw it and how they might feel about their bodies as teenagers. I thought about the messages I want to send to my children - things like - the acceptance of cultural differences, political strife in the world, the impact of war, hungry children, depression, suicide, transgender youth, global warming, the kidnapped girls in Nigeria. My head was on the verge of exploding and I wanted to shrivel into a little ball and cry.

Now, I can’t reach the masses like you can. I wish that I could. There is a ton of unhappiness out there. If I could click my fingers and make all the world’s problems disappear, I would. I am disappointed that the message you portrayed was a very shallow one. My 20 year-old self would have pinned your photo to my fridge. My 33 year-old self realizes how far she has come in 13 years. I. AM. HAPPY.


Just A Mom 

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