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Faking Beyoncé

You have to hand it to her – she certainly knows how to get people talking. The start of 2013 really was Beyoncé’s big comeback with Ivy Blue’s birth and a new album and documentary series in the pipeline; she knew that she had to get people’s attention.

The GQ cover certainly ticked the box in that regard. At a glance, Beyoncé appears to look smoking hot and better than ever. But then you look closer and you start to wonder:

- what happened to her smile (and face generally)
- are her boobs really looking like that after all that breast feeding
- surely that ‘perfect triangle’ is a little on the generous side
- why do the muscles under her rib cage go straight across
- and where on earth are her famous thighs?

Then you feel slightly cheated. It’s not the real Beyoncé Knowles; instead it’s a second rate version of her. You only have to look at the picture of her at Solange’s gig in December to see the difference. So who is responsible for this?

Some may say Beyoncé tried to hard. Stripping off for the press was something that she was against in the past – she wanted to be known for her talent not her body. As a mother, some people said it was a mistake, I don’t think that is the issue here. We all know sex sells, however, what makes this different is that when her body did get attention, it was always challenging the body stereotypes rather than following them. For someone who has always celebrated her curves with ‘bootilicious’ enthusiasm, it seems surpising that Beyoncé has allowed this cover to go ahead.

Others may say that this cover is simply what GQ does. Looking back, this is just a repeat of history with Kate Winslet in 2002 and Jennifer Aniston in 2009 being the most documented examples. December’s cover of Rihanna didn’t fair well either with her face being manipulated, but at least her body was left vaguely intact.

The more critical among us will say we need to look at ourselves. If this is what it takes to get our attention, then there is something radically wrong. Apart from anything else, if diets and exercise really do make a person’s legs become two different shapes, then surely that should mean a legal case rather than an aspiration. This is not about looking for responsibility though, it’s about asking ourselves if we are making the right choices about what we demand as consumers. If we want fake, then that is fine. Just don’t start confusing it with reality.

For the moment we will leave you with Beyoncé’s sentiments that she shared with Teen Vogue last March:

‘The best thing I can say to young ladies is accept the body you’re in. If you have curves, love your curves. The thing to strive for is to have the best healthy body you can have. It’s really not about being skinny or being curvy. What matters is that you love yourself and you are taking care of your health.’