An Open Letter to Michelle Obama: BTW Beyonce No Longer A ‘Role Model’

Dear Michelle Obama,

I’m addressing this to you because I admire you. Because you’re smart and a mum to two young girls. And you’re the First Lady of the USA. And because you were recently quoted as saying that Beyonce is a great ‘role model’ to your two daughters, and because you recently tweeted, after the Superbowl, that you were ‘so proud’ of her. I’m writing because everything you do is admired and emulated by so many; but when you endorse a recording artist like Beyonce, I see the most misogynistic aspects of the music industry (that prefers girls to be no more complex than dolls) interpret your comments as a seal of approval for the thoughtless cultural currency that they flood the youth market with. I’m writing because I think it’s time to stop suggesting to very young girls that ultimate feminine success – in the music industry or anywhere else – comes with the need, or the expectation for them to undress.

When Beyonce kicked off her Mrs. Carter Show World Tour two nights ago, wearing her sheer bodysuit with nipples showing, to me she performed the final degradation of her talent; a retrogressive transformation that has taken someone stellar and otherworldly, and made them into something dreadfully familiar and sad.

Variations of Beyonce’s body suit can be found in brothels, strip clubs and red light districts across the world – where sex is for sale and it happens to be dispensed through a woman’s body. That she is a human being with feelings and dreams, perhaps a sister, a mother, a leader, a teacher, a student – ALWAYS – a daughter – all of this can be forgotten. In those surroundings a suit like Beyonce’s would look far from glamorous. Maybe just downright heartbreaking as a woman somewhere becomes an object, available for the gratification of a desire – at a price dictated by her ‘managers’.

Next time you’re presented with a shortlist of people in popular culture who you should spend time with or commend, think about how many young girls want to be just like Beyonce: Beyonce who sings ‘Bow Down Bitch’ and wears sheer bodysuits and high heels, singing about making money and being independent.

Remember that in the USA, the average age of a girl when she is trafficked for sex for the first time is 13.

Remember that she’s often brought into the ‘life’ by drug dealers who promise her a celebrity lifestyle, clothes like the ones Beyonce wears, and situations where she can live like Queen Bey: looking hot, being desired by alpha males, wielding power over others with her body and sexuality.

Understand that in an obscene act of manipulation by the young men who will pimp them, for a very short amount of time – maybe only for a half an hour in one of their early encounters – young girls who are trafficked do actually get to taste the experience that they have identified as ultimate feminine success: they get given hot pants or body suits like the one Beyonce’s dancing in, they dance for men who find them alluring, and for a very short time, these very young girls are convinced that they’ve made it – only to be assaulted, abused and sometimes murdered in the years ahead, by the men who they thought wanted them.

Beyonce, performing in sheer body suits, nipples displayed, mouth open, high heels and sheer tights, shaking her butt on stage, can no longer be held by world leaders as an icon of female success.

Because for as long as she is, we are feeding a demonic myth that women must make themselves sexually available to enjoy ultimate success. And it is demonic because the impact this myth has on those most vulnerable young girls who fall pray to, is unimaginably horrible.

It can take years of a young girl’s life away from her when she tries to escape a life of abuse at home by believing promises of money and glamor, sexual allure and power – a life just like the most successful women in the world; only to be sold for sex, beaten, and made addicted to drugs. It can take a chance of an educated, secure future away from her; and sometimes, if she can’t find an exit – it can take her very life away from her.

Beyonce is a singer and a songwriter. She doesn’t need to wear see through clothes or body suits to sing. We know that because we’ve seen her singing accapella in a hospital in a pair of jeans and a T-shirt and – and she sounded like a celestial being from a different dimension.

She doesn’t have to do this. She’s choosing to. And she’s not the first or only one woman to do it. And like the many women who have played this game the way they have, her reasons may be economic, artistic, personal or even misunderstood.
But whatever her reasons, her influence cannot be underestimated or misunderstood.

And it’s time that young girls were sent a different message. A more refined, intelligent message. A message that engaged them at the level of their intellect and potential because implicit in our message to them should be the acknowledgement that they are naturally brilliant and that we believe that they are capable of everything -without ever having to undress to achieve their success.

The work here is to re etch the self image and self worth of young girls who think that sexualizing themselves is necessary to be powerful or successful.

So please – let it be known that Beyonce is not a role model.
She may have a lot of money, and she may have enormous influence.
But she can no longer be called a role model.

(Unless you think it would be really cool for Sasha or Malia to follow her example and sing songs for people on a stage whilst wearing sheer gold glitter bodysuits detailing the contours of their body, under the management of their daddy and/or their husband).

Instead, call out those who deliberately allow their sexual identity to eclipse the genius of their spirit and sacredness of their soul. Tell young girls that they are more than that. Engage with artists who sing, dance, write, design, perform – but whose presentation centers on showcasing the brilliance of their brain, not their body.

If I had daughters I’d tell them to pass on the Beyonce show because when you’re wearing a sheer see through body suit with nipples on display, no matter how much gold thread in it – I don’t see any light coming out of it. I just see a glowing ball of soullessness.

I’d say to my girls – all that’s gold doesn’t glitter. Let’s find something genuinely luminous…and take them to a Lorna Simpson exhibition, or a C.C White concert, or hand them a Zadie Smith book.

Gotten from

15 comments on “An Open Letter to Michelle Obama: BTW Beyonce No Longer A ‘Role Model’

  1. This is rubbish really.

    The idea of a role model is subjective. To me, Beyonce is a good role model. She has risen to the top of her profession not because she dresses provocatively but because she’s a great singer and performer… One of the best in the world at that. Why can’t the message be to young girls that if you work hard at your craft, you can wield the amount of influence Beyonce wields?

    Moreover, her dressing is irrelevant to the equation. For the type of heavy activity performing she does, do you want her to start wearing a bou bou? Obviously, she has to dress minimally.

    This article is clearly written to stir.

    • I appreciate the last comment by Mayowa. As always, I strive to see sense in everything and I surely see a little sense in what he has said. That said, everyone on this blog would agree with me that for children usually those of infantile mind who look up to a person as a role model try as much as possible to copy everything about the role model. Granted that Sasha Fierce holds sway for young women seeking to be liberated, it however goes without saying that her dressing is nothing to write home about. With the increase in public obscenity above all indecent dressing amongst our youth, it would be furtive for advise our daughters to dress thus. Additionally, most of us are still following the growing rape trends globally and it goes without saying that rape flows at times but not all times from indecent dressing. The language used in most of Beyonce’s songs are not censored and hence not ideal for juvenile consumption. Finally, Beyonce is a mum n despite her job as a model n singer, I doubt her dressing is appropriate for her age plus am sure Mayowa won’t want his mum appearing in public scantly dresses or his sisters for that matter

    • After reading this blog and the reply, to it, I was compelled to look up the meaning of role model and hence my dear wikkipedia explained it as a person whose behaviour other people try to emulate. Personally I love Sasha Fierce for what she stands for and to me that’s female empowerment and emancipation. For Michelle Obama to refer to her as a role model for girls is quite fair and am sure she meant it in positive light. However, it would be unscholarly to look at issues from one side only. Admitted, Beyonce’s dressing is provocative both for an artist and a mom ( Blue Ivy is her child’s name). Her dressing in Single ladies despite how laudable the song is can be described as provocative and hence obscene. The language she uses in her songs are also not what we would like our girls to use as daily parlance. Consequent on all the above, it woukld have been more appropriate if Michelle Obama had pointed out the specific characters in Beyonce which are worth emulating. Just to mention a few: she is an entrepreneur ( co-owns House of Dereon with her mom Tina), she exhibits courage, charisma and poise not to leave out the swagger.

    • i do not disagree that she is greatly talented, that’s not the issue now, the issue now is that many people look at her and we expect that she being a public figure she can have a lot of influence most especially on the weary, worst still if that influence is negative. i do not think it is so easy for people to distinguish when emulating, we have heard the stories of people who during exams copy even some else s data, the same too applies in this case and that is our concern.
      I am not telling her to wear bou bou the guiding word is decency and modesty.
      music to the best of my knowledge deals essentially with the voice, on a second thought if she is that good, she can wear a bou bou and still be great

    • Mayowa, there is not nearly as much rubbish as you wish to think in what the author of this article is trying to say. You see young people are impressionable, i.e their minds are easily formed or deformed from what they see others do, say or wear. A young girl in her teens may believe, and rightly so, that Beyonce is successful because she exposes her breasts and buttocks to the four winds. What the young girl will not easily see is that Beyonce has burnt midnight oil for many many years to get to where she is today. That is not obvious, I am afraid. Thus, instead of helping young girls with the right advice, Beyonce’s apparel may be sending them the wrong messages, a message, if they were to follow, would lead to failure. When a girls dress like that, like a Beyeonce often does she send the message that “oh I am hot, I need to be had” and many men will use, exploit and often rape such girls ruining them sometimes for life. Obama’s wife, Ms Michelle may have innocent reasons to propose Beyonce as her daughters, but she must not forget the rule of propriety which Beyonce often breaks. It is important that, like a good mother, she advices her daughter on the importance of covering up, first so as not to catch cold; second, because men will see them as cheap sluts to be had and discarded; third, the Internet is already filled with hardcore pornography and anyone who is really interested in seeing body parts and anatomy of women know where to go, we on the other hand don’t want our minds and heart sullied by listening to song from half clad damsels that can distract us from the serious business of taking care of our jobs and our little ones.

  2. I really don’t get what your issue is? The fact that someone admires to be Beyonce or have her as a role model does not mean they wanna be all what she is, but they just admire some features she possess, remember no one says they wanna be ‘Sashe Fierce’ who happen to Beyonce’s avatar in the music world, Beyonce herself said, when I is up stage, I feels a new, like i’m been possessed. Sashe Fierce was born in her first song with Jay-Z..

    Beyonce, is a beautiful talented artices, who is endowed all round although she has some enhencement and BTW it’s cool, if you don’t like what you have, you change it.

    Adolf wasn’t a very nice man but he made some statements that is been used today;

    “And I can fight only for something that I love, love only what I respect, and respect only what I at least know.”

    “Think Thousand times before taking a decision But – After taking decison never turn back even if you thousand difficulties!!”

    Bottom line; if you can’t get to the line some person has attained don’t go making noise.

    Some priest’s has been accused and sued for different abuses of different kinds but that doesnt mean that all priests are bad.

    • sorry, but you have missed the point, nobody described beyonce as being intrinsically bad or evil, we recognize her distinct talents, but we are only saying that she should use this talent for the betterment of society most especially for the ladies who are now being sexually violated.The message she should send is that a woman can and should achieve greatness without dressing like a prostitute.
      I think it is a fallacy to assume that everyone not matter the age has the ability and capability to make decisions, it is precisely because of this known feature of man that we are cautioning beyonce -who is a public figure- to act wisely and rightly.
      you can shed more on light on the issue of priest.

  3. Why the hell are you comparing my Mum and Beyonce? My Mum isn’t a singer, she works a 9 to 5 so clearly she’s not going to dress skimpily. Moreover, her being a Mum has NOTHING to do with her being a role model. Beyonce is 30 ish, I don’t get why we would try to censor what she wears. She’s a grown woman and can do as she pleases. Free her…. And I really can’t agree with your assertion that she dresses like a Prostitute as that is inaccurate. Every time, I see her at events or on the red carpet, she looks good.. Definitely not any worse than any of her colleagues. If you mean, her stage gear, I’ve referenced that in my previous comment..

    Moreover, this role model debate is tired and lazy. It allows parents to run away from being held accountable for the way in which they bring up their children. If you bring up kids who don’t know the difference between what is socially acceptable or not, you have failed as a parent. Celebrities are human beings and they have to live their lives to please themselves first.. Everything else is secondary.

    • How are you sure she is living her life the way she pleases? aren’t you are aware that in the current world many persons now live fake lives, geared primarliy at pleasing the outer world while their desires become secondary.
      Secondly i do disagree that the issue of role model is tired and lazy, if you think so then I must suggest that you are living in utopia. When speaking lets be realsitic,we know that parents have the duty to train and bring up their children,this i do not dispute, but you and i know that in today’s world this is far from been lived, take the example of your mom going to work form 9 to 5 , within those hours, who does the parenting? what about chidren who school in other states or countries who does the parenting? in recent times this duty has been turned to the mass media and social networks. Though bad of our parents, it is precisely because of this vacuum and negligence on the part of parents that we are callling on celebreties who are now takiing that role of “parenting”, to live by very good example.

    • I forgot to add, it seems like you have a funny idea of what freedom is , i do not think freedom means the abilty to do what ever one wills, however and whenever. because if you follow this to it last consequences it could lead to the thinking that i can get up one morining and because i am free and am old enough i can kill my neighbour and who in the world can question me.
      Sorry brother, society does not work that way, society is governed by man made laws and laws governing nature, popularly reffered to as natural law and these laws stipulate but legal princples and dictates of morality. and whenever one does not abide by these laws, it is also natural and human that we recall the peerson back to the right tracks. because if the person continues on the wrong path, it brings a plethora of problems to humanity.

  4. Pingback: Thank You, That Was Terrible (or A Celebration Of Mediocrity In Culture) | Verbatim Gibberish

  5. I want to start by apologizing to Mayowa for referring to his mum. I sincerely admit that it was a cheap shot on my part and I believe taht is why I posted the second unbiased comment. that said. I again want to disagree with several rejoinder replies after mine and especially (unfortunately) with Mayowa’s reply. In an increasingly globalized world like ours, the family system seems to be breaking down to the point of losing its very social essence. in its place has come the capitalistic welfare of the individual (nkem nkem- an Igbo addage). Most parents are no longer around to look into the upbringing of their children and hence these children are left to the mercy of their nannies and to whatever they pick up on tv. fellow bloggers would agree with me that most Nigerian parents do not make use of the parental control of their decoders and hence our kids are exposed to watching things we dont even want to think about in our abscence. consequent on this, when a child sits in front of the television and sees beyonce perform a song on stage or in a music video and sees how scantly dressed she is, the average female child may view the dressing (though absurd) as stylish ans in vogue as a popular female artist is spotting the wear. I remember when I was much younger and I watch the tele with my parents, they are times they change the channel and they still do though am 19years and at other times, they begin to explain to you the reason behind certain actions and they also condemn certain things they see and tell you never to imitate such. when a child whose parents do not do all these (although it is conceeded that ,most parents still do) see certain things on the tele, and then see the First Lady (the ideal woman) encouraging them to be more like Beyonce (because that is what role modellship entails), this child begins to believe that vertything about Beyonce is right. You would reply and say that most parents regulate what their children wear but the plain truth is thatb when your child leaves the house for school in the morning, you dont know what he would do in school. whether she has a spare dress in the bag. truthfully speaking, how many of us did our parents know the first time we shaped our dresses and how many approved of it when they discovered despite the hide and seek game. today in our secondary and tetiary institutions, we see a lot of scantly clad girls and if you dont thin k they get all these nonsense from the television, tehn why dom ladies have hair styles like Anita Berker and Rihanna, amongst a few. the end of my argument would be to ask you my fellow bloggers, how many of you would not feel comfortable watching an Onyeka Onwuenu video with your parentys or a guardian but how many of you can comfortably watch a beyonce video ( Single Ladies,Ring the alarm, Beautiful girls ft Shakira) with their parents or priests and you would agreee with me that Onyeka Onwuenu’s attire does not make her rendition less fantastic or less interesting. The truth is that Beyonc needs not wear a bou bou to perform as that would be asburd and ridiculous. she can always wear a pair of decent shorts and a nice shirt or polo to come on stage while she uses a nice designer flowing gown for the red carpet. let us not let our sex appeal rule us, because today, sex sells in the music and movie industry. I rest my case…..

    • Orabueze Chukwunedum Ndukife Mark, wow what a long name you have. You are correct in your analysis of the movie and video industry of today. Yes, sex, sex and sex is all that sells. Their strategy is simple. The baser nature of human beings, i.e their attraction is a market winner. The movie and video industry in America, Europe and everywhere else including here in Nigeria, want to make money exploiting the obsession they create in minds of millions. An obsessed person is a person you can sell things to. Sex is cheap and easy to market so the movie or the music doesn’t have to be very good, all it needs is sex , sex , sex in it, and people buy. You are also correct that parents have to be very careful what their children watch on the tv unless they want their children to grownup dressing and behaving like sluts, prostitutes and downright pigs. Thank your parents for having protected your young mind from the polluting influence of sleazy, lurid and downright filth we call entertainment nowadays. Perhaps you would have ended up worse off than you are now. Many young men have been ruined by exposure to pornography. I once saw a video of a serial killer who confessed that his obsession for killing young girls came from his regular watching of hard core pornography. Medical research has also linked exposure to hardcore pornography to mental illness, psychotic depression and murder. Even in the bible, King David killed Uriah his friend after watching Uriah wife bathing naked, he then slept with her and when she conceived a son, he killed Uriah to cover up his crimes.

  6. lool! I think Beyonce advocates can like to take a minute to breathe and THINK. clearly no one here is accusing Beyonce of being evil and all what not. The issue is ‘whether she’s an appropriate role model’? Someone worthy of emulation.
    To me there’s every bit of sense in this article. Beyonce’s a very talented woman. Sadly, most people don’t watch her videos to appreciate this talent because she has clouded this good part of her by her dressing all in a bid to market her music.
    But because we all admire her for being so dedicated and hardworking doesn’t mean we should all dress and talk like her or want our children to. Nobody really knows Bey beyond the music videos; how virtuous she is or not. Children want to be her only to the extent of how she portrays herself in her videos.
    I’m sure Michelle expressed her admiration in a positive light but on the other side of it lies the fact that no one is calling indecency by it true name. People would rather be indifferent to it when it’s eating away at the soul of our society.

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