By Christopher Cole
Many were upset when Beyonce posed for the May 5 2014 cover of Time Magazine in her underwear, which leads me to wonder why she chose to wear that attire.
The outfit itself is less underwear than a bathing suit that a stylish woman might wear to the beach with kids in tow. If a woman wore this on the beach, it would be considered tame, but it’s the context that bothers people. She wears a halter bra and high-cut briefs both in white and a see-through chiffon shirt with slightly puffed short sleeves.
Is this appropriate for the beach? Yes. Is this appropriate for the cover of a political magazine? Not so much. But is the question of “what’s appropriate” all relative? Apparently Beyonce thought it was appropriate.
Seeing a crotch in your face on a magazine where female figures usually wear power suits, the reaction to the cover is understandable, but Beyonce’s natural body exudes a sexuality that another woman’s body would not. This is Beyonce’s cross to bear.
Deep down, I think Beyonce wants to push her media darling reputation as far as it will go. I've spoken to church-going black people who view Beyonce as if she were royalty: Beyonce is Duchess Kate for the black community, just as Jay-Z is its Prince William. (When Kate and William visited the U.S. recently, they met Beyonce and Jay-Z with headlines that read "Britain's Prince William and his wife, Duchess Kate Middleton got to meet some American royalty"). Black people forgive a lot about Beyonce and Jay-Z because they're the ideal Black nuclear family (with baby Blue Ivy included) that many black people aspire to be, and are celebrated by the world.
The shirt Beyonce wears on the cover symbolizes a transparency that has defined this “Drunk in Love” era of her career. She has the big career, the husband and the baby. She has it all. Despite her sexy image, Beyonce’s career has been free of scandals (aside from the Destiny’s Child mean girl drama of the early 2000’s) and she professes to be a God-fearing woman, albeit a scantily clad one. In all fairness, a woman’s sexy dressing doesn't mean she’s not faithful in God. When Beyonce and Jay-Z perform “Drunk in Love” simulating their bedroom activities, many shrug that off as a married couple being proud of their love.
The long blond hair that’s been a staple of Beyonce’s brand is on full display on this cover; the hair is a tool that helps her transcend race. This is hair Jennifer Aniston would wear. Beyonce has achieved a status closer to royals that most white celebrities have not achieved, which makes it so hard to turn on her. She’s not just a singer, but also a symbol of a prosperous lifestyle for all races. She’s Michael Jackson’s heir apparent in terms of being palatable to so many people and highly regarded. Michael professed his royalness by donning military jackets with military sashes; Beyonce’s blond hair is her military sash showing that she’s the Queen of Pop. Not R&B, but Pop.