In full disclosure, I am not one of those women who enjoys being pregnant. I went through it twice, and I can't really complain since I was rewarded with two super cool little human beings. While I've since vowed never to go through the pregnancy and childbirth process again, the empowering way Beyoncé has portrayed her prenatal experience almost (almost!) makes me want to reconsider my stance.
Admittedly, when Beyoncé made the announcement she and Jay Z were expecting twins — with a rather distinctive photo of a pregnant and veiled Bey in a bed of flowers — I was initially nonplussed. I mean, if we're really being honest, most of us were, right? Her portrait was unlike any maternity shoot I'd ever seen. But it was bold and unapologetic, and I liked that. In the time that has followed, I've watched Beyoncé work it onstage like a golden goddess at the Grammys. Her Instagram is a seemingly never-ending feed of flawless fashion.
Does Beyoncé's portrayal of pregnancy highlight the not-so-fun realities of the process, like searing heartburn and sciatica? Well, no. However, you wouldn't really expect that from Queen B, either. If you want a dose of reality, I can give you a list of hilarious mommy bloggers to follow (hello, Glennon Doyle Melton). It's refreshing to hear someone speak frankly about the messiness of mothering, sure. But it is also refreshing to be reminded how radiant the experience is, which Beyoncé has been consistently doing.
Although there were rumors circulating about the singer's second pregnancy long before the happy parents announced it, Beyoncé chose to control the narrative in a way that emphasizes the joy being pregnant brings her. "We would like to share our love and happiness," she wrote in the announcement. And, really, that's precisely what they've been doing ever since.
Her entire Grammys performance was an ode to pregnancy — beginning with an introduction by her own mother, Tina, and being rounded out with adorable Blue Ivy gazing at her glowing mom from the front row. In early April, she released a new music video for "Die with You" on Tidal. Although the video was technically to mark her nine-year anniversary with Jay Z, the cinematic montage was filled with happy parenting milestones like the birth of Blue and Bey's burgeoning twin bump.
"We would like to share our love and happiness," she wrote in the announcement. And, really, that's precisely what they've been doing ever since.
Perhaps my favorite part of Beyoncé's portrayal of pregnancy and parenting have been her interactions with her daughter — any mama knows that mustering up energy when you're pregnant can be a struggle, and sometimes you feel like your kids don't get the best of you. Seeing the moments Beyoncé shares with Blue make me realize I could stand to be a bit more present, even on the days I feel bone-tired.
I'm hyperaware of how gross and messy and uncomfortable pregnancy can be. Seriously, it's all those things and then some. I also realize that, despite the potential downsides, some women truly love being pregnant. My own mother enjoyed it so much (three kids, never an epidural or drugs in sight) that she often jokes she would happily be a surrogate, and she just celebrated her sixtieth birthday. The experience is inherently different for everyone.
Honestly, I wish Beyoncé had been pregnant at the same time as me, because I feel as though she would have inspired me to appreciate the amazing things my body was doing and is capable of. I felt so uncomfortable in my skin during pregnancy that I couldn't help but grumble under my breath about my ever-widening hips or the faint lines slowly crawling across my stomach. Toward the end of my pregnancies, I rarely wore anything form-fitting, because I was simply too self-conscious. Seeing how bold and unapologetic Beyoncé has been about her body and her style choices can only breed confidence in women, in my opinion.
Perhaps if I'd been privy to Bey's celebratory Insta-feed during my pregnancies, I would have given pause to consider that I didn't just have to wear the cozy and often unflattering maternity clothes I practically lived in. Although, to be clear, those are OK, too — mamas should wear whatever makes them feel good. And that's the takeaway I see when I look at Beyoncé in her round-bellied glory: You can wear whatever you want and project sexiness, because there's nothing sexier or more powerful than a woman bringing life into this world.
We are the givers of life. We are the gatekeepers. We grow human beings in the hollows of our own bodies and bring them to fruition. How badass and beautiful is that? I don't mind that Beyoncé doesn't focus on the grittier parts of pregnancy and childbirth, because I didn't have any trouble focusing on those myself. Where I needed help, and where I feel like Beyoncé delivers it is in reminding us all just how spectacular it is, too.