When Beyoncé came out with her song “Flawless” in 2013, many people were not happy. With its less than subtle feminist message, it differed from Beyoncé's previous songs about love and yearning and seemed, to many, like a call for attention. How could someone who sings songs about being “Crazy in Love” or “Drunk in Love” all of sudden believe that she is a feminist who doesn’t need a man? What listeners did not realize was that with this song Beyoncé was actually solidifying her feminist message. Although many people view Beyoncé’s song “Flawless” as a contradiction to her other songs about love and sex, the messages in her song harness those messages of love while reinforcing the idea that women can crush societal expectations and be whatever they want to be while maintaining relationships.
If you were to listen to a random song by Beyoncé, chances are the lyrics discuss the same topic as many other female artists: being in love with someone can be difficult, there are ups and downs, it can make you crazy, but ultimately you love them. That is why her song “Flawless” became such a discussion. Beyoncé has always openly called herself a feminist and in interviews has never hesitated to whip out an inspiring message for women. When it came to her songs, however, her message, though briefly brushed over in some lyrics, was often lost among hits with the same messages of love and sex used by most female artists. When “Flawless” came out, with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Ted Talk on feminism intertwined with Beyoncé’s own thoughts and an undeniably catchy melody, the message was impossible to ignore. She had said it in interviews and now she said it extremely openly in her music: Beyoncé was a feminist. The establishment of this fact was not what bothered listeners. Most people were bothered by the fact that this song came out along with other songs still talking about being crazy and in love with men. Feminism to most had meant that you were perfectly fine without men and you should ditch any man giving you a hard time, but Beyoncé believed that you could love and have complex relationships with men and still be a strong and independent woman.
In the beginning of “Flawless” Beyoncé says, “I took some time to live my life/But don’t think I’m just his wife”. WIth these lines alone Beyoncé is beginning to open up about her ideas of strength and feminism. She is saying that a large part of her life is her family, but she still has an identity outside of her husband and daughter. All of those songs and years of lyrics about her conflicts with her husband Jay Z were a part of her finding herself. She is not weaker because she chose to keep him in her life, she is who she is today because of it. Later on in her song, Beyoncé has an excerpt from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Ted Talk on feminism. The lines featured in the song say, “We teach girls to shrink themselves/ to make themselves smaller/We say to girls ‘You should aim to be successful/but not too successful/otherwise you will threaten the man’”. This part of “Flawless” is why it got the most attention out of any of her songs about the power of women. She uses Adichie’s talk as a way to avoid sugarcoating the issues that girls face everyday. She puts the words right in her song in a way that they can’t be lost by the melody and they force people to face the reality. This is what girls grow up dealing with. Let’s not pretend it isn’t happening. Let’s face the problem, and let’s fix it. Beyoncé is one of the most truthful artists when it comes to feminism. Her song “Flawless”, though more directly focused on feminism than her usual work, did not contradict her past messages but, to those who listened closely, spread a feminist message a little more brave than most artists at the time. While many artists don’t address the issues that women face in everyday lives at all in their songs, and many spread a message of strength meaning complete separation from love and relationships, Beyoncé spreads the honest message that you can be both strong and struggle with your love life. Not only do her lyrics spread this message, but she proves it in how she lives her life. She has an extremely successful career that she uses as an outlet because her relationship isn’t perfect and her life isn’t perfect. But she isn’t less of a woman because of those things. She is Beyoncé.