The much-anticipated issue of Vogue featuring Beyoncé—as both cover model and creative director—dropped digitally this morning, bringing the world as we know it to a grinding halt. News broke early last week that Queen Bey had been given unprecedented control over the coveted September issue, down to the captions to the photographs shot by the first black photographer to have their work grace the cover of the magazine in its 126 year history, and the result does not disappoint. In the cover story essay-interview, the singer/mogul opens up about her emergency C-section, the lessons she hopes to impart on her son and daughters, that incredible Coachella show, and finding out that she’s descended from a marriage between a slave owner and his slave.
But one section of the piece, in which famously svelte Bey admits to still rocking a bit of belly after giving birth to her twins, seems to be resonating more than others:
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. I think it’s real. Whenever I’m ready to get a six-pack, I will go into beast zone and work my ass off until I have it. But right now, my little FUPA and I feel like we are meant to be.
Websites like Quartz, HuffPost and InStyle lauded her “unprecedented” use of the acronym FUPA— “fat upper pubic area” or “fat upper pussy area” for the uninitiated. Twitter denizens were aggressively here for it, vowing to cancel their gym memberships now that FUPAs are officially—and literally—in vogue.
While I’ll surely take any excuse to skip the gym, this much-touted win for body positivity feels at once inevitable and overblown in comparison to some of the other details Beyoncé shares—not least because she looks as unattainably flawless in the accompanying photos as she always does. The appearance of the mildly vulgar term in the glossy pages of Vogue is indeed unprecedented and likely wouldn’t have happened without the incredible star power that Beyoncé wields. And it always feels great for our idols to demonstrate the fact that they are indeed human and have all the pouches to prove it. But any attempt to spin this detail as making the biggest star of our time (don’t @ me, there’s no debate) relatable feels a bit contrived, especially when the preceding sentence re-affirms her ability to have a six-pack whenever she feels like hiring the trainers and putting in the work.
The real bombshell here shouldn’t be that Beyoncé used the word FUPA or that she has (an admittedly little) one; rather, it’s the enormous amounts of pressure that she continues to be under and the ways in which that pressure manifests in her life. In the past few weeks of the second On the Run tour, there’s been a ridiculous amount of speculation that the star is once again pregnant because her stomach isn’t flat a year after an emergency C-section that quite literally rearranged her internal organs. In the piece, Beyoncé reveals that she went on tour three months after giving birth to Blue Ivy and was still breastfeeding during the 2012 Revel shows in Atlantic City, that she started preparing for the Coachella show only six months after being in the NICU with her twins, and that despite her level of wealth and achievement, she was still one of thousands of black women to suffer from life-threatening pregnancy complications. These details—far wilder and more concerning than any bit of post-pregnancy fat—are what we should be freaking out about. But, perhaps due to our obsession with the shapes of our idols’ bodies rather than their actual health (and the relative ease of aggregating adulatory tweets without acknowledging the serious burdens of motherhood), it seems we’ve missed the forest for the FUPA.