Beyonce Reveals the Power of the Fake Boob
Oh Beyonce, you’ve put me in a bad position this time. I defended you when you took over multiple rooms while giving birth to Blue Ivy; I defended the lip-synching at the Inauguration, but the faux nipples … faux nipples, B? I don’t believe I’ve even heard the phrase before, “faux nipples,” let alone had to type them, or think about whether they are right or wrong.
I first saw the faux nipples on my FB newsfeed, where I get a lot of my news these days (so I don’t have to wait for Saturday Night Live).
People flew into unwarranted rage, as the Internet is wont to do, when Beyonce announced the name of her current tour, the “Mrs. Carter Show,” which apparently reduced her to her husband’s surname when she’s inarguably the bigger star. I think that’s exactly why she did it; it’s freaking funny to think of her as “just” Mrs. Carter. They didn’t see the tongue in her cheek, but I did. I did not see it as an homage to Jay-Z, or female subjugation, but as kinda adorable.
But the faux nipples have started another battle, and there’s a post on HuffPo angled as “an open letter to Michelle Obama.” And of course, myriad response both for and against Beyonce’s line of thinking. And her line of not thinking: This piece went viral and is filled with incorrect facts, like that Jay-Z is B’s manager and other smaller facts, like Beyonce’s costume encourages young girls to become prostitutes. What? Not to mention the author’s incorrect song titles and the basis of her entire letter: Beyonce is not wearing a sheer top that displays her breasts and nipples. She is wearing a bustier created for her that has faux breasts and faux nipples. And that, my friends, has made all the difference.
I do simply like Beyonce; I’ll gladly admit it. I believe in the persona we see squeezing hands of concert-goers. I can’t even think about her performance of “At Last” at Barack Obama’s first inaugural ball without tearing up. I want to believe her all-female band is more than a gimmick. I need to believe that she surprised those kids at a New York middle school for more than the good press it brought her, and that she had as good of a time as she appeared to be having. I believe in “Life Is but a Dream,” too, though I haven’t seen it.
Beyonce’s current show begins with her surrounded by females as they dance and strut and stomp and sing the infamous words, “Who runs the world? Girls!” She got attacked for that song, too, in regards to the false sense of security and propagation of a myth of equality, let alone empowerment. I hear that complaint, I really do, but I also wonder how effective the cry of the perpetual victim is? I mean, we know that if we say something or hear something about ourselves enough times it becomes true. Why not own what strength we can through an anthem?
The time has come to just ask ourselves why? Why faux nipples Beyonce? Why now? Madonna’s sexuality has always been part of her persona, and while I admire her and respect her, her voice is nowhere as powerful as Beyonce’s—she needs the kick of her schtick. I remember when Mariah Carey was at the apex of her career—and then made a video in which she rolled around on a bed covered with rose petals while she sang her heart out, like you do, dressed in bra and panties; critically acclaimed singer does light porn shoot. But Katy Perry probably needs the cupcake bra, a bit, and let’s note that Nicky Manaj could not stop at one sweet, covering her breasts with candy, ice cream cones and doughnuts.
Which brings us back to Beyonce stripping her breasts down. And this is when we must ask ourselves: By not adorning them, costuming them, or shooting fireworks out of them, what is she saying? Could we and should we accept that breasts ARE objects, fraught with meaning, able to evoke memories and illicit desire, jealousy, and all sorts of passions. And then accept that it’s only when we acknowledge that they are valuable and own that value that the breasts come back as empowered, or even, really become ours. It’s as simple as it is complicated: Subjugation only occurs if someone else is in control.
Really, one of my initial thoughts to this was, why did you go faux, B? If you’re going to shock and affirm and empower and own your femininity in all its glory, why not wear a sheer top and show your actual breasts and nipples. But the more I’ve thought about this, I’m glad she kept her breasts private; she didn’t need to share them; the idea of breasts is powerful enough.