Beyoncé and the H&M Bikini Shoot: A Lesson on Self-Worth

Beyonce H&M AdSay what you will about Beyoncé, aka Mrs. Carter, but her most recent altercation with H&M after they attempted to photoshop the 31-year-old mother’s curvaceous figure is quite impressive. The star of the “Mrs. Carter Show World Tour” was featured in the retailer’s summer campaign where Bey donned skimpy bathing suits and fabulous style. But, when H&M made an effort to slenderize the singer’s physique, she demanded that they run the ads with her original shots intact (no enhancements allowed). Proving that women of color are beautiful in their own skin, Beyoncé seems to be proud of her body just the way it is.

Why is This Important for Understanding Self-Worth?

Quite simply, this news story proves that EVERYONE receives negative messaging about their bodies or self-image. Just last year, Beyoncé graced the cover of People Magazine as the “World’s Most Beautiful Woman.” Yet, even she has to contend with fashion executives attempting to alter her appearance for the general public. The “Bow Down” singer is making it clear here that the criticism cannot diminish her inherent value and beauty.

Criticism is universal. It comes from anywhere at any time. And, as women of color, the simplest way to deal with it is to simply say “no more.” In this case, Bey was saying no to the photo-shopping, thinning, or misrepresentation of her figure in an effort to sell swimwear. And sometimes, we have got to figure out how to say no too.

Beyonce H&M Ad 2We may have to say no to those that tell us to change our hairstyle so that we can attain economic success or growth. In other cases, we may have to say no to those who would tell us that high academic honors are reserved for others. Even still, we may need to say no to media companies who present “ratchet”-like images of women of color on television. In any of these cases, the key is understanding that no external source gets to define one’s innate worth. Worth is not given by pictures, bathing suits, or ad campaigns. Beyoncé knew that when she demanded that H&M show her just as she is, every curve, every dimple (not that she has many), and every feature. She wanted to be seen as Bey.

How many times has someone tried to alter you to make you “better” or more palatable? How many times has someone or some institution asked you to be someone else in order to “fit”? I know that I have been asked, and I have acquiesced many many times in my life. I was willing to change if I thought it would better my station in life. But, I found out the hard way that my temporary betterment did nothing to build my long-term self-worth. It seems to me Beyoncé’s gotten that message too.

So, instead of bending and giving in to pressures to change, let’s try and follow Bey’s example. I am certain it leads to a great place.

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Photos Courtesy Huffington Post