Beyoncé’s cover for the Vogue September issue debuted on Monday — and for the publication, the singer had unprecedented editorial control.
The gorgeous photos — in which she “striρped away the wigs and hair extensions and used little makeup” were shot by 23-year-old photographer Tyler Mitchell, making him the first African-American in the publication’s 126-year history to shoot a cover.
In an as-told-to essay titled “Beyoncé in Her Own Words: Her Life, Her Body, Her Heritage,” the 36-year-old megastar addresses topics including her children, marriage to Jay-Z, which is back on track after their “conflicts” were resolved, and body image.
Beyoncé is perhaps most candid discussing her recent pregnancy with her twins, Sir and Rumi, whom she gave birth to in June 2017. “I was 218 pounds [99kg] the day I gave birth,” she said. “I was swollen from toxemia and had been on bed rest for over a month. My health and my babies’ health were in danger, so I had an emergency C-section. We spent many weeks in the NICU.”
She admitted the surgery changed her to the core. “It had been major surgery. Some of your organs are shifted temporarily, and in rare cases, removed temporarily during delivery. I am not sure everyone understands that. I needed time to heal, to recover. During my recovery, I gave myself self-love and self-care, and I embraced being curvier. I accepted what my body wanted to be,” she said of the process (she started working again after after six months and started preparing for Coachella, which she headlined in the spring). “I became vegan temporarily, gave up coffee, alcohol, and all fruit drinks. But I was patient with myself and enjoyed my fuller curves. My kids and husband did, too.”
This experience was drastically different from her recovery after giving birth to Blue Ivy in 2012, when she bounced back after three months (of admittedly crazy hard work). “To this day my arms, shoulders, breasts, and thighs are fuller,” she said. “I have a little mommy pouch, and I’m in no rush to get rid of it. I think it’s real. Whenever I’m ready to get a six-pack, I will go into beast zone and work my ass off until I have it. But right now, my little FUPA [defined here] and I feel like we are meant to be.”
She praised her husband for being “a soldier and such a strong support system” throughout, saying, “I am proud to have been a witness to his strength and evolution as a man, a best friend, and a father. I was in survival mode and did not grasp it all until months later.”
However, Beyoncé did touch on the couple’s relationship woes, which were widely covered. She said a deeper dive into her family history has helped her. “I come from a lineage of broken male-female relationships, abuse of power, and mistrust,” Beyoncé said, whose own parents, Tina and Mathew Knowles, divorced in 2011. “Only when I saw that clearly was I able to resolve those conflicts in my own relationship. Connecting to the past and knowing our history makes us both bruised and beautiful.”
“I researched my ancestry recently and learned that I come from a slave owner who fell in love with and married a slave,” she continued. “I had to process that revelation over time. I questioned what it meant and tried to put it into perspective. I now believe it’s why God blessed me with my twins. Male and female energy was able to coexist and grow in my blood for the first time. I pray that I am able to break the generational curses in my family and that my children will have less complicated lives.”
For her girls, she said of her hopes and dreams for them, “It’s important to me that they see themselves … 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. They don’t have to be a certain type or fit into a specific category. They don’t have to be politically correct, as long as they’re authentic, respectful, compassionate, and empathetic. They can explore any religion, fall in love with any race, and love who they want to love.”
For Sir, she wants the same things but wants him to know “he can be strong and brave” and also wants him to know he can be “sensitive and kind.”
“I want my son to have a high emotional IQ where he is free to be caring, truthful, and honest. It’s everything a woman wants in a man, and yet we don’t teach it to our boys,” she said. “I hope to teach my son not to fall victim to what the internet says he should be or how he should love. I want to create better representations for him so he is allowed to reach his full potential as a man, and to teach him that the real magic he possesses in the world is the power to affirm his own existence.”
She concluded that she’s currently in a place of gratitude. “I am accepting of who I am. I will continue to explore every inch of my soul and every part of my artistry. I want to learn more, teach more, and live in full,” Beyoncé said. “I’ve worked long and hard to be able to get to a place where I can choose to surround myself with what fulfills and inspires me.”
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