Wednesday, December 18, 2013 - Nisus

Why I'm not a Beyonce Fan

I don't hate her either though.

It's almost as if I, as a black woman, am expected to love and worship Beyonce, our King.  And even my silence upon the release of her surprise album is taken as a slight. lol. Like I'm supposed to clamor to buy her anything, and listen/watch between episodes of Real Housewives of Love and Scandal.

But here is what I don't understand.  Is she no longer my peer? Are these artists no longer people?  I would have to like a person before I'd ever claim to be fan of theirs.  To like is not to know, but rather to ingest what information they've given me and make a judgement call.  If I knew Beyonce, personally, I don't think we'd be hanging out. Am I entertained by her?  Sure.  Do I respect her? Sure.
Do I like her? No. Do I like her music enough to purchase any of it? No.

And below is a story, where I attempt to put into words my relationship with Beyonce. lol.

I'm about Beyonce's age. I had the very first Destiny's child album back in early college, and even walked out in a fashion show to one of the songs. Their rapid fire delivery and lyrics were right up my ally as a budding woman, looking for independence, a sense of style and a concrete identity.  Bugaboo and Bills  came out of my mouth as naturally as they came from the singers themselves.

There was a duality fighting in me, however.  A split never forgotten.

Outside I had long, relaxed hair.  I wore midriff tops and skin tight bell bottoms out on the town.  I even worked in a few clubs passing out fliers, or selling Polaroid's for $10 (the ones in front of the gaudy city scape). I had a flashy, older boyfriend who was a popular club and radio DJ.  Plus I was in college. Everything was in motion for me to become a "bad bit%$" as it means today in pop-culture.

My heart inside was nerdy, outcast, smart.  I had been made fun of all through grade school. I went to an all black school so the skin color hierarchy had the golden brown and red toned girls as light skinned, and I was past that. I was "high yellow" or "light bright almost white." I didn't have the soft, natural hair down my back that some mixed or Puerto rican girls had, nor the big booty the coveted girls in the videos had.  And I was comparatively poor when trying to uphold my clothing, shoes and hair appointments to standards of the stylish middle-class girls surrounding me. Lacking access because I lived on the edge of a rural area, with one parent, and no public transit.

Come college and all of a sudden, a duality was born of a singular sense of self. Here I was at a predominately white college in a diverse area. I was, indeed, one of the black people.  Different because I was black, rather than different amongst the blacks.  We flocked together in activity clubs and at the cafeteria. The feelings of being ostracized faded, I had a little hard earned money, and I had freedom.  Mostly the freedom to meet new people, and befriend those who I felt I had the most in common with. Freedom to follow trends and ideas that appealed to me.

So there was like this pendulum.  Who would I become now that I could become somebody?

I was (almost) model thin and kinda tall, so I was in a few fashion shows and did a little modeling. And I was still taking classes like Data Calculus and the notoriously hard Rhet Comm. And working and paying my own rent, and taking out student loans in my own name.  I was independent and growing as a person. And for years, everywhere, there was Beyonce.  To me she represented things going on inside of me and around me. Beyonce never came to class with me, but she was at the club, and on the minds of people looking at fashion and style.  She had chosen a side and I was hyper aware of it.

I'm sure true fans know her story better than I do.  But I think that all women go through a similar faze around their early 20s. I can't even tell you what I was thinking, because I don't think I was.  I was just growing/changing. So only in retrospect can I spot the tipping points.

We can latch on to visions we see ourselves mirrored in, or we can aspire to alternate visions for success as black women. As business women, as mothers, as wives, as philanthropists. So I latched on to an idea and began tipping. I wanted to be a creative director and later I wanted to be a wife and mother.

At the very end of my junior year I decided to cut the relaxer out of my hair and began a sort of transitioning process. In September of my senior year I cut my hair down to an inch long, later left the DJ dude and started working almost full time.  I only had a few classes left to get my degree and I wanted to be working.  Just working in my field and not in classes.

I also began volunteering and writing poetry, though I always was a visual artist (I got a BA in Visual and Performing Arts with a track in Graphic Design and a minor in Advertising!)

I braided my hair a lot and did a lot of coil outs. Those styles just went better with ethnic jewelry to me. So I wore shells, and wood, and a more bohemian style slowly crept onto my body. I didn't buy pop albums.  Instead Amel Larriuex, Jill Scott, Erika Badu, Heather Headly and deep house music began to fill my collection.

I continued to hear big hits in the club by Beyonce and later Rihanna and a plethora of hot girls.  I even really loved some of the songs (the uh-oh dance in Crazy in Love was expertly mastered).  But I didn't identify with them.  I didn't see myself in the styles, the hair, the makeup.  It had become pure entertainment.  Fun, alternate reality.

What I respect about Beyonce, besides her obvious success, is the choice that's left open.  There are not many "OR"s in her story.  Just lots of "AND"s.  Entertainer, AND wife, and mother, and business woman.  Visually, she can authentically sing ratchet music, and cuss and jiggle the booty. AND she can dress in angelic white and sing a touching ballad. She can do all of those things and its pretty amazing.

I'm attracted to the aspect of her that says that I CAN too.  Duality is OK. And that's nice.  I could totally throw some weave (or hell, my pressed hair has got that flow now lol), makeup, heals and fancy clothes on.  I CAN switch up too.  Watching her is not even cathartic.  It's affirming.  I could get a damn good approximation of that popular look and fashion sense.  The decisions I made then though, to cut my hair and focus on work, to volunteer, seemed to preclude being fashionable, or spending time and money just to alter my appearance. I can now because I finally have more time and money.  But the split was made.  I don't want to.

I even hear what's she's saying and I'm like get it girl. YOU get it. lol. The messaging she has, or that her writers and engine has is mostly all over the place.  Sometimes there's a song I like, sometimes I don't care if I were never to hear a song of her's again. Music to me is not just the voice, or the lyrics, or the style. Her voice is nice. But everything together is no longer compelling to me.

Like in this video I watched on leaders; I'm not a fan because I don't buy (or promote) things because of what they are, I buy things because of who I am, and who they are.  She is not able to lead me in a direction I would go.

Beyonce is a Diva.  And she makes diva things.  Sometimes I like a diva thing or two, but mostly I'm not following Diva moves or cues.  I'm not following anyone like her simply because of WHO they are.  Not even Janelle Monae has been able to keep my attention.

It's been over 10 years since I had my identity growth spurt.  My sense of self as a black woman has simultaneously developed with her public pop-stardom.  It's somehow become a relative story, a part of my story. So yeah, its that deep. And it took all these words to explain why I'm not a fan. But I don't hate her either.

Are you a fan?  Who are you a fan of?

10 comments:

choochick said...

Wow! You're brilliant.

TiaTreB said...

Well said...

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with you. While on my journey in this life I have become more spiritually aware of many things. I could write a book on why I don't listen to her & a lot of others. I just don't listen to certain things that dont feed me in a positive way. Not passing judgment on anyone who does listen to her music i just don't. It's not where I'm at anymore. This is just how I feel.

COCONUT + CREAM said...

Mmm, yeah I totally see your point of view and I agree with it!
To me, her music doesn't feed my mind or where I'm at in life. It sounds silly but, the 12 year old me totally loved her songs - Catchy seemingly feminist anthems, it was what I needed back then. But as I've grown and have become more educated, I can't listen to that kind of music without boredom striking over me.

Anonymous said...

I love this post! I'm 23 and I actually am a fan of Beyonce, but I do not worship her the way my peers do. Everyone thinks that all black women want to have the Beyonce's style or look but that's not necessarily the case. Thank you for making me feel better about my stance.

Margaux Mays said...

Agreed. Great post.

Nisus said...

*** Coming out of hiding *** They didn't come for me, yet. lol
Thanks @choochick and @TiaTreB - I'm glad I posted it, I was a little hesitant!
@anon and Coconut + Cream - right, we grow, we change, some things get left behind for things that are better for the current life we live.

At anon 2- I have actually talked to a few women now who say they are indeed fans, but that the worshipping and idolizing are a different thing. I think that's the energy the "Beyonce haters" are reacting to. It's almost as damaging to not see black women represented as it is to only see one type of black beauty and talent idolized :-/

Anonymous said...

I'm not here to blast you but, it seems as though the reason you're not a fan of Beyonce's is because of her popularity. I read you story in its entirety and you constantly touched on the fact that you weren't popular or the "most liked." You even went on to state that you prefer the music of Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Heather Headley, etc. After I read that, I realized that these are women who aren't as popular or mainstream as Beyonce, nor do they have as big a fan base as Beyonce. From that I concluded that the reason you don't like Beyonce is you can't relate to her popularity. Beyonce is popular because of her hard work and commitment to her job. She has proven time and time again that there's a reason why she's one of the best performers/business women today. YOU saying that you're not a fan is just like blaming her for her popularity. She genuinely loves what she does and at the end of the day, she wants to be happy as well as the person who listens or watches her music/videos etc. I'm from Houston born and raised (also Beyonce's birthplace), so all I hear is Beyonce. I've been a fan since her beginnings as an entertainer. Ever since the start, she's done nothing but amaze not only me but others around the world. People enjoy her music, not just because it's what's hot but, because of who she is. There's a swag to Beyonce that comes off in her music. Her music is true, honest, relatable, raw, powerful. She is the meaning of a true talent. Also, Beyonce is NOT a diva. I worked with her as one of the people that ran out onto the field during the Superbowl. Before the actual performance, we were allowed to watch her rehearse. She performed her entire set at least 15 times and everyone in the stadium was in awe. The reason behind all the rehearsing was, she wants perfection. There were technical issues (Michelle's spring door wasn't operating correctly also, there was a car that Beyonce was supposed to emerge from but it got cut), the pyrotechnics were still being perfected (the fire along the edge of the stage and, the sparks coming from BeBe's guitar), also her battery pack for her mic kept falling out of her clothes. Another problem they were havin was the huge screen that she dance on during the performance. That screen was originally supposed to stand upright for a moment during a dance sequence but, they opted to leave down. During rehearsal she must've stopped everything and thanked us about 10 times. She was so grateful and was aware that jumping and screaming for around 2 hours was pretty exhausting. All these little things are things that she has to be aware of and try to fix or improve in order to give an amazing show. And that she did. Now, if wanting whatever you do to be perfect is being a diva then, in your eyes so be it. But, I've been taught to only give your best, don't half-ass something and put it out there. I'm pretty sure thats what everybody strives for, perfection. If not, they certainly should. So, not liking Beyonce because of her social standing/popularity is not acceptable for me. It'd be totally different if it were because she doesn't sing your genre of music or if she were just a horrible person with horrible taste. But, you said you're not a fan because you cant relate. Beyonce's highly relatable. SHe's that southern, neturally beautiful, country girl next door. She sings songs based on hot topics (feminism, love, just having fun and, most recently the realities of striving for perfection or beauty). I think those are things everyone can relate to. Its not her fault she's popular and you werent, she's fashion forward and you werent or, that she's highly sought after and you werent. Your blog took your dislike/unrelatability to the hating level. I'm not saying you have to like her but, find a better rason not to.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with you, Nisus. I'm not a fan of Beyoncé and I'm 19 years old. When I was younger (early teens), I considered her an inspiration. However, as I grew mentally and spiritually, I realized that her music was not pure or beneficial to/for me... which is why I haven't, personally, listened to her music in years. It became evident that her music (and other artists) were arousing my fleshly desires, such as: pride, seduction, and even lustful thoughts. These things weren't edifying so I had to let go of them. Since then, I've noticed a change in me. I no longer have to turn to her or her music for entertainment. Instead, I can turn to things that are actually beneficial and can actually lead me to a better life. (I just hate that society seeks to condemn those who are not a part of her fan base). There are many admirable women who actually carry themselves well and are African American. Ex. Heather Lindsey and Tera Carissa Hodge and others. I just want young ladies/ women to realize that there are everyday women who are putting in work (and are going unnoticed), because so many people are looking at a "global icon" who is a lover of herself. There's more to life than this. (:

Anonymous said...

But she stated her reasons why she is not necessarily a fan already. She's no hater of Beyonce. It's just that Bey's music doesn't appeal to her. It doesn't fit where the author is in her frame and perspective of life. I totally get it.

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