Beyoncé was born in Houston, Texas, back in 1981, and now at the age of 31 she is viewed as one of the most influential women of our time. Last year, Beyoncé was officially ranked at number 32 in Forbe’s 100 most influential women list, only further confirming her status as a recognised authority figure for women.
From the start of her career, Beyoncé has always expressed strong feelings of sisterhood and female empowerment, and this can be seen through the union of “Destiny’s Child”. Hit single “Independent Woman” taught women of the 90′s to strive for independence without needing to rely on a man to be successful.
As Beyoncé made her mark on the industry as a solo artist, she seemed to represent the modern woman: strong-willed, driven and intelligent. Not only does she express these traits through her artistry, she is also heavily involved with politics, in particular with regard to President Obama. Her passion was first demonstrated when she was invited to sing at the President’s inauguration in 2009. At the time, the world watched in awe as she sang a beautiful rendition of Etta James’ timeless classic “At Last”. From then on, Beyoncé has not been shy in proclaiming her support for the President.
The star has remained close with the family and has used her status positively. She became the face of many campaigns which the Obamas held close to their hearts. One of these included Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” fitness campaign whose main aim was to encourage American children to be active. Similarly, the video for Beyoncé’s single “I Was Here” was recorded live at the United Nations General Assembly Hall in New York in order to promote humanitarian work around the globe. Her alliance to Obama became particularly important in the most recent election when she pledged her vote, accompanied with a hand written letter to the man himself. President Obama indicated his gratitude towards Beyoncé and her husband, he said:
“To J and B, thank you so much for your friendship. Beyoncé could not be a better role model for my girls.”
The singer has continued to work with various charities throughout her career, in order to provide people with a better future. A prime example of this was when she donated all her earnings from her film “Cadillac Records” to Phoenix House, an independent non-profit organization which carries out alcohol and drug abusive treatment. Beyoncé became inspired after hearing stories from the women who were having treatment, and so she wanted to create a programme that was aimed at helping them. This led to the creation of the opening of “The Beyoncé Cosmetology Centre” which offers a seven month cosmetology training programme, providing the foundation for these women to have a lasting career in the industry after they have come out of treatment at Phoenix House. The organisation could not thank Beyoncé enough, stating: “We express our heartfelt gratitude to Beyoncé and Miss Tina (her mum) for their tremendous gift, which will indeed change lives.”
Through her music she has continually showcased her passion for feminism, and this was made apparent in the video for “Run The World (Girls),” where the former Destiny’s Child singer is seen putting her group of all female dancers through their paces, with the song demonstrating unity and empowering women all over the world. Beyoncé has recognised her status as a role model for many as she said of herself:
“I realised that one of my responsibilities was to inspire women in a deeper way.”
Unfortunately, despite the success of both the single and video, she found herself under fire from critics who disagreed with the way in which she was dressed. Their argument consisted of criticising her for wearing provocative clothing and dancing in a sexual manner. However, I think that it should be recognised that in this video Beyoncé reflects a woman who is comfortable with her own body and who is therefore not afraid to celebrate it. Through acting in this way she continues to push boundaries for both herself and for other women. Feminist Eva Jeanette-Rawlins also shares the same view, saying: ”Beyoncé represents so much of what women have been fighting for over the last century.”
Another criticism she faced was that fact that her upcoming tour has been entitled “The Mrs Carter Show” whereby she has adopted the surname of her husband Jay-Z. Some say that this is expressing patriarchal values whereby the woman is a subject of her husband, going against the female empowering values she has so vigorously represented throughout her career. However, I disagree and instead believe this showcases a woman who is unafraid to admit that she feels comfortable and respected enough within her marriage that she is able to make her own decisions and take control. This is something which I feel many women will take note of and be influenced by in the future. Emma Gammon, columnist for “The Telegraph” agrees – she said: “Beyoncé is playful in her song writing. Yes, her music videos are also about celebrating her body, but they can also go deeper into exploring gender within songs such as “If I Were A Boy.”
Beyoncé’s documentary “Life Is But A Dream” is the star’s latest project providing the rest of the world with an insight into her life. For many, this confirmed her passion for female empowerment and girl power. Beyoncé embarks upon her world tour next year, and let us hope she still has the time to inspire.