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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 October 2018

Beyonce's body honesty smashes through the Snapchat filter 

We need our celeb idols to be more real than ever in a world where people are taking 'Snapchat filtered versions of themselves with fuller lips, bigger eyes, or a thinner nose' to the surgeons' office

Beyonce performing at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards last year while pregnant with her twins. Photo / Reuters
Beyonce performing at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards last year while pregnant with her twins. Photo / Reuters

There has been much talk this week about the September issue of American Vogue, which was edited by Beyonce. The pop star appears on the magazine’s cover, which is being described as historic because, for the first time in the magazine’s 126-year history, it was shot by a black photographer. In truth, this just highlights the fact that while the fashion industry might like to cast itself as progressive and inclusive, there is much work to be done.

There has been speculation about the level of control that Beyonce had over the issue as a whole (is this another sign that Anna Wintour is on her way out?) and the fact that instead of giving a traditional interview, Queen Bey published a first-person piece covering everything from her emergency C-section to her ancestry (she recently learnt that she is a descendant of a slave owner who fell in love with and married a slave). She also spoke at length about her post-pregnancy physique – and inadvertently managed to bring the term Fupa into the mainstream. That, incidentally, stands for fat upper pelvis area, and apparently Beyonce is totally cool with hers.

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While she was recovering from her C-section, she says she practised “self-love and self-care” and embraced her curvier frame. “I accepted what my body wanted to be … I was patient with myself and enjoyed my fuller curves. 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.

To emphasise her message of body acceptance, in the accompanying shoot and cover image, Beyonce kept things simple. “I think it’s important for women and men to see and appreciate the beauty in their natural bodies. That’s why I stripped away the wigs and hair extensions, and used little make-up for this shoot.”

This comes just a few weeks after model Candice Swanepoel hit back at trolls who criticised her post-baby body (“I carried my son for 9 months in there, I think I’ve earned the right to have a little tummy,” was her response); and Chrissy Teigen (who is fast becoming my favourite person on the planet) posted a video of her “mum bod” and stretch marks on Instagram for all to see. Of course, all of these women have made a living out of looking a particular way and have all been responsible for propagating a certain ideal of beauty, but this just makes their messages all the more resonant. It is a reminder that even the most beautiful women are human.

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Never has this kind of honesty been more necessary. Shortly after I read Beyonce’s Vogue story, I came across an article in Medical News Today about “Snapchat dysmorphia”. Researchers at the Boston Medical Centre (BMC)Massachusetts have highlighted how our obsession with selfies is affecting our self-esteem and making us all feel utterly inadequate. We are so used to seeing ourselves after we have been smoothed, polished and airbrushed that we can no longer bear to look at the real thing. According to the 2017 Annual American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery survey, 55 per cent of surgeons reported seeing patients who wanted work done purely to improve their appearance in selfies.

“Previously, patients would bring images of celebrities to their consultations to emulate their attractive features,” say the BMC researchers. “A new phenomenon, dubbed Snapchat dysmorphia, has patients seeking out cosmetic surgery to look like filtered versions of themselves instead, with fuller lips, bigger eyes, or a thinner nose. This is an alarming trend because those filtered selfies often present an unattainable look, and are blurring the line of reality and fantasy for these patients.”

Whether we are teenagers – male or female – or mothers coming to terms with our post-baby bodies, the pressure we put on ourselves and others to look a certain way is immense. “Ladies, we are all in this together, be kind to each other,” Swanepoel said as part of her anti-troll tirade.

Keep that in mind as you pose for all those holiday snaps and scroll through your Instagram feed poolside. If Beyonce can learn to love her whole self, maybe we can too.

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The eternal quest for the perfect work-life balance

Paying tribute to the extraordinary life of my dad, the ultimate expat

Why eating meat makes me feel like a hypocrite

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After a decade, Dubai feels like it has come of age

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