What Beyonce's Swimsuit Pic Says About Feminism

by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

By 2014, you would think we'd collectively be over the idea that feminism is at odds with all expressions of female beauty or sexuality. But here's the ever-antiquated Daily Mail, suggesting that a swimsuit selfie Beyonce posted to Instagram somehow works against her recent writing on gender equality.

Bey's short essay, penned for The Shriver Report, focused on "equal pay and equal respect" for men and women. It was published last Sunday. On Tuesday, Beyonce shared a photo on Instagram of her in a one-piece bathing suit, along with a few other images of herself. The Daily Mail apparently thinks these activities are antithetical to one another. A piece published by the paper today is headlined: "Beyonce shares a revealing swimsuit shot on Instagram...just a day after writing an essay on gender equality."

In patented Daily Mail style, this "article" is really nothing more than a collection of photos strung together with one or two descriptor sentences. But even with few words, the piece makes clear the idea that feminism and swimsuits are supposedly strange bedfellows.

"The Grammy-winning singer leaned slightly forward in the profile photo that displayed her curvaceous figure and taut tummy. Beyonce contributed the essay Gender Equality Is A Myth! to Maria Shriver's annual report on the status of women in America."

Non-sequitur, much? Yes, unless your point is that selfies and curves are somehow contradictory to gender equality, or that it's ironic for a woman to profess interest in the latter while daring to engage in the former. In the eyes of The Daily Mail, only women in sweatpants or snuggies have the authority to be feminists. Check out Bey's allegedly racy photo — not a hint of cleavage or leg or tummy are shown. She's wearing a one-piece, for goodness sake. Would they prefer she swim in a 1920s style bathing costume? Or is it merely the act of photographing this scandalous behavior that they object to?

The rest of Beyonce's recent photos the Mail highlights are equally tame — a still from an upcoming music video and two of Bey dressed in fancy gowns. Basically, these are photos of Beyonce living her life as a woman in a woman's body wearing women's clothes. But sadly, there's still an all-too-common view in society that a woman's body is inherently obscene. That exhibiting any trace of sexiness negates intellect altogether. That to be "taken seriously," a woman must totally hide any sexuality. Eff. That. Noise. Accepting women's sexual expression and desire happens to be a part of gender equality, thank you very much. Not only are feminism and sexual confidence compatible, they're complimentary. If showing off your body is anti-feminist, then wouldn't the ultimate in feminist attire be the burka?

Image: Beyonce/Instagram