Sometimes it’s hard to remember that Beyoncé is a human being just like the rest of us… and she’s not making it any easier by starting a new campaign that promotes self-esteem in girls and women. Just in time for the release of her new music video, “Pretty Hurts,” Bey is encouraging her fans to post photos and videos of themselves to Instagram that answer the question #whatispretty.
The brand new tag is already overflowing with family photos of moms and grandmas, selfies of black women showing off their natural hair, pictures of Frida Kahlo and strawberry gelato and dads with babies and women proudly displaying their wide hips. I’m a firm believer in the power of the selfie, and I’m already feeling positive, empowering vibes shooting out of #whatispretty. I love this idea.
Of course, not everyone is on board with a traditionally beautiful woman capitalizing off of claims that physical beauty doesn’t matter in life, and one commenter on Jezebel makes a pretty decent point:
Imagine rich Wall Street guys starting a campaign telling everyone that money doesn’t make you happy and ‘doesn’t move you forward in life.’ Similarly, Beyonce has a big chuck of pretty capital, and it’s served her very, very well, and moved her forward in life quite a bit, over and above what her talent capital would have been able to give her. … Don’t tell us it’s not worth anything when you have a bunch of it and it’s served you so well.
Yeah, it’s definitely irritating that we hear “what counts is on the inside!” from people whose outsides have made them millionaires, but at the same time, I think it’s silly to write off this campaign’s potential to do good just because it required a pretty person to bring attention to it. The “Pretty Hurts” video doesn’t condescend to us by pretending Beyoncé is a plain Jane– the women in the video are pageant contestants, meaning they had to be beautiful to even get to the point of competing– and it focusses on how impossible it is for anyone to live up to the ultimate standard. She’s not saying I’m ugly just like you, she’s saying no one can win this, including me. While I don’t think Beyoncé is about to END THE PATRIARCHY! with an Instagram hashtag, I think it’s overly pessimistic to ignore the possibility that her campaign will influence some positive change.