A little while ago, I was skyping with my little sister Valerie -- always a highlight of my day as she's currently in Cameroon, where she works and where her boyfriend lives.
As it goes with sisters, we talked about everything from love to work to celebrities to, yes, weight loss and the crazy society we live in.
Valerie told me about her confusion around Beyonce's new album, especially the song and video called "Pretty Hurts."
In "Pretty Hurts," Beyonce sings about the fatal consequences that our common pursuit of the perfect body can have -- a pretty amazing topic, isn't it?
And the lyrics are freaking fantastic, see for yourself.
We shine the light on whatever's worst
Perfection is a disease of a nation
Pretty hurts, pretty hurts
We shine the light on whatever's worst
Tryin' to fix something
But you can't fix what you can't see
It's the soul that needs the surgery
Now, why was my sister upset?
As it turns out, she'd watched the video to "Pretty Hurts" and despite the fantastic lyrics, what you see on screen is a different picture. What you see is Beyonce being significantly thinner than before her pregnancy, creating the yearning for those watching the video to look like her, to do exactly what she sings about: strives for perfection, which hurts.
Now, I'm no one to judge and neither is my sister, but I'm all for making people aware. So, I sat down and asked a few questions about the motives behind the video and Beyonce's thinner frame.
Is it Show Biz?
Beyonce obviously lives in the show biz. She is pressured by the unachievable current beauty ideal even more than we normal people are. I mean, she's surrounded by Twiggies who hardly weigh more than 9-year-olds.
So, is her slightly curvy body already a statement in and of itself?
Should we applaud her for that?
I don't know. As someone who was severely harmed by trying to imitate celebrities' bodies, I am aware of the severe and fatal consequences that the Beyonce's video coupled with the lyrics can have on a teenagers mind. In other words, singing about not wanting to play the ridiculous game of beauty and perfection anymore, but looking exactly like the people she doesn't want to be should not just be seen as a harmless side effect of show biz.
So, is it ignorance?
Are people like Beyonce, role models after all, not aware of the way young girls see them and the many measures they take to look like them?
Again, I don't think so. If you're in this kind of business, you know that you have millions of fans all over the world looking at posters of you every single day. You know they look at you, admire you you and desperately want to be you.
So, ignorance, unless you're really, really detached, can't be it either.
Is it Showing Off?
Maybe Beyonce's recent videos, in which she shows a lot of skin, is simply a way of showing the world that she's darn proud of her body, especially after having had a baby.
Something, most of us can relate to, right?
I mean, even if we never had the body Beyonce's showing off now, we'd probably do the same if we, well, what... If we had the personal trainer she has? If we had the "discipline" she has? If we had the pressure she has?
By which we'd be at the same point again: she is singing about not playing the game, but she contributing to it.
Is it None of Our Business?
Should we not look at her body and instead celebrate her courage to bring up the topic and start a discussion around body image, perfection and the quest for medals and cups?
Of course we should and what she's done is amazing. I'm celebrating every celebrity who tries to change the conversation.
Do We Have to Accept it?
I think so. The media and the people working in the media won't change in the near future, no matter how much we wish they would.
However, we don't have to blindly follow this beauty ideal and instead focus on finding our beauty in the bodies that don't look as toned as the ones of Beyonce, Shakira and the likes.
We can still begin our own body-image love story and refrain from striving from perfection because we know that we are worth it. We can learn that living in a body that doesn't look perfect, but is unique and beautiful and our own can be as amazing and fulfilling as looking, well, perfect.
Now, I want to hear from you. What are your thoughts on this topic? Tell me in the comment section.