'9. 4. 8. 1.'
To most people this will just seem like random series of numbers: a pin code to unlock an iPhone perhaps, or access a bank account. Others might realise it’s a (US-formatted) date: September 4, 1981. But for the BeyHive, these digits are everything. Because it’s a birthdate and the opening line of the first track on an album aptly titled B’Day. For those in the know, it's the day Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter came into this world, 40 years ago, and changed the playing field forever.
To celebrate Beyoncé’s birthday, I could write endless love notes to her voice, face, hairstyles, clothes, the sweet Texan drawl, that VMAs pregnancy reveal, those multi-picture Instagram posts, the floor-length trench coat she wore in Ring The Alarm, the fact she brought back Kitty Kat at Coachella, how she practically redefined modern dance with the Single Ladies video, the Black voices creators she's shone a light on, the launching of her charity initiative BeyGOOD… The list, like a perfectly-pitched Beyoncé vibrato, goes on and on.
But you don’t need me to tell you that the mother-of-three is the eighth 'wonder of the world'.
Personally, what I'd like to celebrate, is that Beyoncé is the quintessential agony aunt – a confidante and cheerleader who is as much there for her fans in times of heartbreak and sorrow as she is in times of jubilation.
Whether she’s telling you to go into the back of your closet and pull out that freakum dress for an instant confidence boost, or posing the question many of us ask ourselves when trying to seem ‘chill’ over text (‘What’s worse, looking jealous or crazy?’ Honestly, I still don’t know), listening to Beyoncé's lyrical wisdom is like having a constant companion, in musical form – 24 hours a day, on demand, whenever you need her. Find me a friend who’s more consistent than that. I'll wait.
Don’t believe me? The answer is right there, on your music app of choice. Any question you’d WhatsApp the girls with at midnight? Answered. A sudden identity crisis? Solved, in under three minutes. Wondering how to get someone to just listen? Simply press play and ask yourself, What Would Beyoncé Do? And you might hear something a bit like this…
Q: Things with my boyfriend are quickly going downhill. Over the past few weeks, he’s grown distant. When we do talk, we argue, and then I heard he’d been driving another woman around town in the car I bought him. He moved into my flat a year ago, but I know I can’t keep living like this. What do I do?*
What you'll get from this song… An instant reality check.
The answer is simple – tell him to pack everything he owns in the box to the left and get out of your life. If you’re not his everything, then surely you’re better off being nothing. You’ll find another him in a minute. Don’t shed a tear for him – or lose a wink of sleep. The truth of the matter is, replacing him will be easy.
Q: I’ve been in my job for three years, and every time I bring up the idea of a pay rise to my boss, they shut the conversation down. I’ve worked so hard and I know I deserve to be compensated for it. How do I ask for a promotion?
What you'll get from this song… A reminder of your worth.
Who runs this office? You, by the sounds of it. You work your 9 to 5, you cut your check. It’s not like you’re asking for something you haven’t worked for. Your persuasion could build a nation, so charming your boss will be a walk in the park. It’s time to stand up for yourself and tell it like it is. Something along the lines of ‘F U pay me’ should do it. Though the swearing might not help – maybe play that bit by ear…
Q: My friends and I can’t stand our friend’s partner. He’s rude, shouts at her in public and is basically putting her through hell. We have never seen her like this. She says she doesn’t need us to help, but we know each other too well – how do we get her to realise her worth?
What you'll get from this song… Instant relatability.
Consider Destiny's Child your own personal girl gang – like them, you can see that your friend is in a toxic situation, but you don’t want to be too firm and push her away. Like DC, you need to take her out for a girls’ lunch and say that you can tell she’s been crying and is needing somebody to talk to. You’ve come too far as a group for her to feel alone – she can’t let him walk over her heart. And no matter what happens, you’re her girl.
Q: I know my parents love me, and they only want the best for me, but I’m finding them overbearing. They have such strong opinions on my work, friends, relationships, politics…everything, and I fear I’m going to end up regretting some of the life choices I’ve made because they weren’t actually my choices. How do I stand up to them without causing a fight?
What you'll get from this song… A lesson in communication.
Yes, you’ve tried and tried to say what’s on your mind – but you need to tell your parents how they’re making you feel. You’ve followed the voice they gave to you for too long, and now the time has come for your dreams to be heard. You are so much more than what they’ve made of you.
Q: All my life, I’ve had people comment on my body: its shape, its size, the fact it looks different to my friends’. I used to be so comfortable in my curves; I never used to care what other people thought. But recent snide remarks from those around me, coupled with messages on social media have made my self-esteem hit rock bottom. How can I get back to the confident person I used to be?
What you'll get from this song… A well-deserved confidence boost.
These haters just aren't ready for your 'jelly'. And that’s not your problem – it’s theirs. Look up ‘bootylicious’ (it’s an official word now, thanks to our Bey) and you’ll see, your body is, as the Cambridge Dictionary puts it, ‘sexually attractive’. Collins Dictionary actually takes it a step further, adding: ‘Sexually attractive, esp with curvaceous buttocks’. So take that sexually attractive body with the curvaceous derrière over to a mirror and remind yourself that you are the baddest chick, looking fly – you can handle anything.
Q: My other half is feeling insecure because I earn more money than him. I know he’s happy for me, and he does support my career, but I can tell he’s embarrassed that people know he’s not the ‘breadwinner’. How can I shake him out of his outdated mindset?
What you'll get from this song… A fresh perspective.
You’re excelling in your career, let’s take a moment to applaud that. And, instead of apologising for your success, you need to look at it from a different angle: make him realise what an asset it is to have a powerful woman like you by his side. This won’t be easy, but don’t doubt yourself – as Bey says to her man, 'Trust me, you need me.' Remind him how lucky he is to have a real woman in his life, who can take care of the home (if you wish), look fly, build up his account and even split the bills. Let him rise up to your level.
Q: I’m getting married next month, and I really want to write meaningful vows for my partner, but I’m just not good at talking about my feelings. I like to think of myself as the life of the party – always laughing and joking, and never overly serious. How can I express my emotions without cringing inside?
What you'll get from this song… A new kind of poetry.
Now, most people wouldn’t channel an upbeat song for the most poignant moment of their wedding, but then again, you’re not most people. Keep the energy high, but be genuine with your words. Maybe even borrow some from the song: ‘Take my hand, I won’t let you go. I’ll be your friend, I will love you so deeply. I will be the one to kiss you goodnight. I will love you until the end of time.’ Open. Emotive. To the point. Just like you. And then, you can break up all that serious emotional energy on the dance floor.
* All questions are fictitious
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