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Beyoncé addressing this post-baby body reality is an important moment.

I am not a rabid Beyoncé fan. I like Lemonade and a few more of her songs, but it would be a stretch to call me a “fan”. However, reading her statement in Vogue’s September issue, I felt a kinship with her that I had never felt before because she spoke honestly and openly about birth and the post-birth body. As a Black woman who is prized in part for her looks, I believe this was a radical act on her part. Beyoncé took over the high-fashion magazine and, yes, we were given the beautiful photo shoot that we were expecting to see, having been photographed by Tyler Mitchell, the first ever Black photographer to shoot the cover for the 126 year-old magazine, but we were also gifted with the raw and open discussion of her pregnancy and postnatal period. This wasn’t an exposé or an in-depth report — it feels intimate and candid. In her own words, the artist states, To this day my arms, shoulders, breasts, and thighs are fuller. I have a little mommy pouch, and I’m in no rush to get rid of it. I think it’s real. Whenever I’m ready to get a six-pack, I will go into beast zone and work my ass off until I have it. But right now, my little FUPA and I feel like we are meant to be. [caption id="attachment_49914" align="aligncenter" width="800"]The Radical Act of Beyoncé Claiming Her FUPA - Photo by Tyler Mitchell for Vogue Photo by Tyler Mitchell for Vogue U.S.[/caption] It was Beyoncé saying, “This is what happened to me and this is what I did to come to terms with it.” It is part of a larger statement that she is making about her recent history that shares space with her career and performances. It is not a separate, specialty story, it is just part of her life. She described having a “FUPA.” This is a very normal post-baby body change, but I cannot recall ever hearing any reference to it in a mainstream fashion magazine. And when have we ever heard a celebrity speak about their belly fat unless it was about how they lost it? The post-baby body is one of the most scrutinized bodies. No matter how you looked before, your body is almost always different afterwards. The culture we live in thinks nothing of commenting on and reminding people who have given birth that they need to look like they did not just have a baby, and this starts as soon as you’ve given birth.  From the perspective of all people who have given birth, who have lived with the changes that their bodies go through during and after that process, Beyoncé addressing this post-baby body reality is an important moment. A woman known for her perfection and beauty is standing up and telling us, “My body isn’t perfect by external standards, but it is perfect by the standards that matter most — mine.” That’s a radical act, to acknowledge the process of birth, to accept that once the baby is no longer physically in your body it doesn’t mean that the process is over. That these changes will last and you don’t have to fight your own body to be what it was before you gave birth.

For those of us who live below or at the poverty line, our 24 hours are very different from the wealthy.

You may be learning increasingly about capitalism and the ways in which it touches every aspect of our lives, especially with regards to student loan debt, healthcare and stagnating wages. There are efforts around the globe to address long-building inequities and the oppressions which feed into and from capitalism and create social structures which revolve primarily around working exceptionally hard for a very long time and for not very much compensation. One of the most oft-repeated phrases is “we all have the same 24 hours” — other iterations of this include: “you have the same 24 hours as Beyoncé” for those of us who marvel at the icon’s ability to go above and beyond to create practically flawless art while being a mother to three children and a wife. The message of that phrase pushes the idea that Beyoncé is who she is within our same 24 hours, and if we work hard and grind til we own it, we too could be just like our fave. An important thing to note however, is that Beyoncé is a multimillionaire. We know this, she knows this, and as a capitalist society we are conditioned to admire obscene wealth and ignore the fact that Beyoncé is an exception, because her success does not mean that systemic oppressions have ceased to exist. Now this piece isn’t here to deconstruct Beyoncé or her career—and Beyoncé neither benefited from whiteness (although she does benefit from colorism), nor generational white wealth—it’s here to simply illustrate a point: that we do not all have the same 24 hours and that the foundation of these ideas is classist, racist and ableist. [caption id="attachment_49883" align="aligncenter" width="800"]I Do Not Have The Same 24 Hours As Beyoncé I Do Not Have The Same 24 Hours As Beyoncé by Dania Alexis[/caption] For those of us who live below or at the poverty line, our 24 hours are very different from the wealthy and even the increasingly shrinking middle class. A day looks very different when you have:
  • to take public transportation to get to and from work
  • long commute times
  • unstable, fluctuating hours at work and unstable, unpredictable schedules
  • debt and/or student loan debt
  • disability, chronic pain, mental health issues
  • lack of access to grocery stores (aka: food deserts)
  • inadequate health care
  • multiple part-time or full-time jobs to afford a basic standard of living
  • no child-care help
  • housing insecurity (aka: an unstable home life, homelessness)
These examples are just some of the very few ways in which our time starts to look very different from someone who can afford housekeeping, child-care, or even time off from work. Those of us who are poor or who depend on hourly wages, and live paycheck to paycheck, see our time consumed by work and trying to gain access to the basics of living. This makes being able to build upon our dreams and goals almost impossible. This makes an actual savings account with more than $500 in it almost impossible. This also makes participation in local organizing and politics something that we’re too tired to do, or too busy to do. This is by design, as our political systems in the U.S. were meant to benefit wealthy, white men and if we’re too tired to resist oppressive political systems, then they can continue to hoard resources at the expense of marginalized people. Our emphasis on wealth creation (which is always at the expense of other people) through the constant idea of “grind until you die” is a romanticized way of seeing humans as only being worthy of humanity if they are able to produce goods for other people to consume. People who do not produce anything should still be able to live comfortably. Humans should not be resources. Capitalism and capitalists push for our 24 hours to be used judiciously and at the benefit of others under the premise that we, too, can eventually live a lifestyle of extravagant wealth. Ask pretty much any person who earns under $3,000/month, and they’ll tell you that they just want to be able to not be an accident or health crisis away from complete and utter destruction. We just want to be able to save up, maybe go to the doctor more often, take a vacation, buy all the groceries we want and have time to spend with our children without it being about homework, eating or sleep.

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