Beyoncé is a force to be reckoned with. She is intensely dedicated to her craft and her brand, overriding the tabloids so she can carefully control the release of her personal information. There's a reason why Beyoncé has inspired the Pinterest-ready phrase that graces coffee mugs and t-shirts, “You have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyoncé": because she is genius at self-promotion and controlling her own image.
It makes sense, then, that Beyoncé would reveal the first photo of her twins not in a magazine, as other celebrities do, but on her own social media channels. On Friday morning, that's exactly what she did by posting the first, long-awaited photo of her twins on Instagram. In the magical image, Beyoncé is loosely draped in a floral caftan, holding her twins and confirming their much-rumored names, Sir Carter and Rumi. The images were immediately met with both praise and criticism, with the latter focused on Queen Bey's narcissism for featuring her body so prominently in her birth announcement.
But Beyoncé wasn't "making the birth announcement about herself," as people on social media have claimed. The photo was a part of her perfectly crafted brand, and by posting it, she was simply doing what men have been doing for centuries: using her children to further promote her brand. It's telling that she receives backlash for showing off her two beautiful kids, while male politicians and celebrities are rarely subject to the same critique.
Beyoncé has embraced motherhood after experiencing a very public pregnancy with her first child, Blue Ivy. From a brand-building perspective, promoting herself as a mom is as necessary as a politician kissing babies, an age-old PR photo opportunity that showcases the man as “trustworthy, likeable, and empathetic," according to a 2011 Atlantic article about the tradition. Political candidates like President Donald Trump have also pushed their family members into the spotlight as a way to humanize them and make them more appealing. Yet when Beyoncé does this, she is criticized for making it "all about her."
Of course, this is not the only double standard that women in the workplace face. While breadwinning mothers today are increasingly the norm, with 42 percent of mothers in 2015 being sole or primary breadwinners and bringing in at least half of family earnings, “employers read fathers as more stable and committed to their work; they have a family to provide for, so they’re less likely to be flaky," said Michelle Budig, a sociology professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. "That is the opposite of how parenthood by women is interpreted by employers. The conventional story is they work less and they’re more distractible when on the job.”
Instead of criticizing Beyoncé, we should be applauding her for celebrating her role in carrying and birthing two children, devoting her life to motherhood, and leading a successful career as a talented, immensely smart, powerful black woman.
As one of the most powerful women on the planet, such perceptions do not exactly apply directly to Beyoncé. Yet when she is accused of using her children as part of a cynical self-branding opportunity, she is still facing a type of scrutiny that rich and powerful men do not.
Case in point: Beyoncé's equally business-minded husband JAY-Z, who also uses parenthood to further his brand. On “Family Feud,” a song in which Beyoncé provides powerful background vocals sampled from the Clark Sisters, says “my wife in the crib feedin’ the kids liquid gold. We in a whole different mode.” JAY-Z also openly talks about the importance of commitment and putting family first while building success, even while he openly admits to infidelity. Yet when he refers to his children in his work, he is not labeled a narcissist.
You might think it's egotistical for Beyoncé to dare to bare her postpartum body in a photo of her newborn children. But instead of criticizing her, we should be applauding her for celebrating her role in carrying and birthing two children, devoting her life to motherhood, and leading a successful career as a talented, immensely smart, powerful black woman. Bring on the photos of Rumi and Sir Carter, Beyoncé. Forget the haters.