Beyonce‘s ‘Formation‘ left many a Racist Rhonda stressed and under duress when its visual took aim at white supremacy and self-hatred within the African-American community.
How she feels about the backlash?
She couldn’t care less.
Her thoughts, via ‘Elle’, below…
On her ‘Topshop’ collaboration:
I’ve been shopping at Topshop for probably 10 years now. It’s one of the only places where I can actually shop by myself. It makes me feel like a teenager. Whenever I was in London, it was like a ritual for me – I’d put my hat down low and have a good time getting lost in the clothes. I think having a child and growing older made me get more into health and fitness. I realised that there wasn’t an athletic brand for women like myself, or my dancers, or my friends. Nothing aspirational for girls like my daughter. I thought of Ivy Park as an idyllic place for women like us. I reached out to Topshop and met with Sir Philip Green [Chief Executive of its parent company, Arcadia]. I think he was originally thinking I wanted to do an endorsement deal like they’d done with other celebrities, but I wanted a joint venture. I presented him with the idea, the mission statement, the purpose, the marketing strategy – all in the first meeting. I think he was pretty blown away and he agreed to the 50-50 partnership.
On what ‘Park’ represents:
It’s really the essence: to celebrate every woman and the body she’s in while always striving to be better. I called it Ivy Park because a park is our commonality. We can all go there; we’re all welcomed. It’s anywhere we create for ourselves. For me, it’s the place that my drive comes from. We all have that place we go to when we need to fight through something, set our goals and accomplish them.
On being a business woman and mother:
Having the power to make every final decision and being accountable for them is definitely a burden and a blessing. To me, power is making things happen without asking for permission. It’s affecting the way people perceive themselves and the world around them. It’s making people stand up with pride.
Like any mother, I want my child to be happy, healthy and have the opportunity to realise her dreams.
I put the definition of feminist in my song [***Flawless] and on my tour, not for propaganda or to proclaim to the world that I’m a feminist, but to give clarity to the true meaning. I’m not really sure people know or understand what a feminist is, but it’s very simple. It’s someone who believes in equal rights for men and women. I don’t understand the negative connotation of the word or why it should exclude the opposite sex. If you’re a man who believes your daughter should have the same opportunities and rights as your son, then you’re a feminist. We need men and women to understand the double standards that still exist in this world and we need to have a real conversation so we can begin to make changes. Ask anyone, man or woman, ‘Do you want your daughter to have 75 cents when she deserves $1?’ What do you think the answer should be? When we talk about equal rights, there are issues that face women disproportionately. That’s why I wanted to work with [the philanthropic organisations] Chime for Change and Global Citizen. They understand how issues related to education, health, and sanitation around the world affect a woman’s entire existence and that of her children. They’re putting programmes in place to help those young girls who literally face death because they want to learn, and to prevent women from dying during childbirth because there’s no access to health care. Working to make those inequalities go away is being a feminist, but more importantly, it makes me a humanist. I don’t like or embrace any label. I don’t want calling myself a feminist to make it feel like that’s my one priority over racism or sexism or anything else. I’m just exhausted by labels and tired of being boxed in. If you believe in equal rights, the same way society allows a man to express his darkness, to express his pain, to express his sexuality, to express his opinion – I feel that women have the same rights.
I discovered my power after the first Destiny’s Child album [Destiny’s Child released in 1998]. The label didn’t believe we were pop stars. They underestimated us, and because of that they allowed us to write our own songs and write our own video treatments. It ended up being the best thing because that’s when I became an artist and took control. It wasn’t a conscious thing. It was because we had a vision for ourselves and nobody really cared to ask us what our vision was. So we created it on our own and once it was successful, I realized that we had the power to create whatever vision we wanted for ourselves. We didn’t have to go through other writers or have the label create our launch plans – we had the power to create those things ourselves.”
On her new direction:
I hope I can create art that helps people heal. Art that makes people feel proud of their struggle. Everyone experiences pain but sometimes you need to be uncomfortable to transform. Pain is not pretty – but I wasn’t able to hold my daughter in my arms until I experienced the pain of childbirth.