Lucy Nicholson/Reuters/SplashBeyonce was many things at the 2017 Grammys, where she sang a medley of "Love Drought" and "Sandcastles" (and accepted the award for Best Urban Contemporary Album): A goddess. A lioness. A fierce and flawless performer. But above all, Queen Bey channeled the one archetype women the world over can relate to more than anything: A mother.
There was never any question that the theme of motherhood would loom large in Beyonce's appearance, considering the star is currently expecting twins with husband Jay Z. But her obvious bump was only the beginning. Beyonce's performance was an ode to mothers all the way through, from an introduction by her own mother, Tina Knowles, to the family portrait (Tina, Beyonce, and daughter Blue Ivy) that appeared on screen ... and, of course, there was the way she repeatedly (perhaps subconsciously) put her hand to her belly.
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Expectations among Beyonce's fans were, of course, ridiculously high for the evening. And while there was some disappointment that Lemonade lost most of its nominations to Adele (even from Adele herself, who basically turned her acceptance speech into a Beyonce fan letter), there's no question that Beyonce shut down any skeptics who wondered if her pregnancy would somehow diminish her capacity to slay. The picture of serenity beneath her glittering golden halo, Beyonce made her message clear: "I'm a goddess. I got this."
So powerful, for so many reasons -- but particularly this one: Beyonce's calm and grace under fire was something all mothers desperately need to see right now. Strong and centered but still rendered vulnerable by the life she is carrying in her body (as evidenced by that harrowing chair-tipping moment), the image of Beyonce leading young female dancers in "formation" felt symbolic of the weight we all feel as moms to make this world a place where our daughters can dream and grow and thrive. The words she sang were emotional, turbulent. But her voice was clear. Isn't that the kind of resolve and grace we're all struggling to find right now?
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Her willingness to embody these qualities is why Beyonce is the icon so many women need at this moment in time. She serves as an almost primal reminder of the divine feminine we once revered, the sacred side of womanhood that's so lacking in pop culture. Her performance last night was certainly a deliberate nod to that fact (as were her costumes): At times she invoked the Hindu goddess Kali; at others the Virgin Mary. She was the African water spirit Mami Wata (also known as "Mother Water"). She was Oshun, the Yoruba water goddess of love and fertility, often depicted wearing yellow. She shone like the sun itself.
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Beyonce's performance was about more than mothers, though. It was about daughters, too. It was about her role as a daughter, and it was about her own daughter. It was about the passion that gets passed down through generations of women. It was about the experience of being a black woman, and all that signifies, in every phase of life (as was the entire Lemonade album). It was about moments like this:
Beyonce pretty much summed it up in her acceptance speech when she said:
It's important to me to show images to my children that reflect their beauty, so they can grow up in a world where they look in the mirror, first through their own families -- as well as the news, the Super Bowl, the Olympics, the White House, and the Grammys -- and see themselves, and have no doubt that they're beautiful, intelligent, and capable. This is something I want for every child of every race. And I feel it's vital that we learn from the past and recognize our tendencies to repeat our mistakes. Thank you again for honoring Lemonade. Have a beautiful evening. Thank you for tonight. This is incredible.
It was pretty incredible, really. Beyonce is incredible. Mothers everywhere are incredible.