26/08/2014 13:21 BST | Updated 06/12/2017 22:20 GMT

Beyoncé Taught Me How To Be A Feminist

Jason LaVeris via Getty Images

By now you'll probably have heard about Beyoncé's 15-minute performance at Sunday's Video Music Awards.

Dressed in a glittery leotard with red lips and her signature honey-coloured waves, the superstar stood tall as the word 'FEMINIST' shone behind her and the words of Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche's recent TED Talk on feminism blared from the speakers.

And, like clockwork the show's 20 million viewers exploded onto social media for (yet another) heated and widespread debate about the worthiness of Beyoncé's feminist credentials.

Why? Because Beyoncé's identity is feminist minefield, as I highlighted when her semi-nude cover of Time Magazine was released.


But while we struggle to fit her into rigid feminist pigeonholes, we're forgetting that Beyoncé was instrumental in raising the generation of fourth wave feminists long before they became part of the zeitgeist. And I'd know, because I'm one of them.

At 26, I grew up with Beyoncé and Destiny's Child. I was 12 when Independent Women and Survivor were released, her music shaped my formative years and instilled values that I've taken on into womanhood.

Beyoncé is six years older than me. In many ways she is like the big sister I never had, trying things out before me, making mistakes and having huge successes - offering both as life lessons for others.

She taught me about everything from self-love to independence, long before I'd even started my GCSEs.

Even now, when I often think I have all the answers, Bey continues to offer important lessons - as a successful entrepreneur, an equal partner in her relationship with Jay-Z and a working mother.


Beyoncé's feminism (and actions) may not sit well with me all the time - trust me it doesn't - but then I don't look to her to speak on my behalf.

It's impossible for her to represent every woman, but much of what she stands for - confidence, fearlessness, self-awareness - can still translate and provide the building blocks essential for growing a new generation of independent, free-thinking women.

Chimamanda's voiceover during the VMA's described a feminist as "the person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes".

And, as a woman who has lent her name to the fight for equal pay, to Sheryl Sandberg's Ban Bossy campaign, and who reportedly earned £10 million more than her husband in 2013, there is little doubt that she eats, sleeps and breathes Chimamanda's words.

Beyoncé's feminism may not be perfect. But having the most famous woman in the world shouting loud and proud about female empowerment can only be a good thing for future generations.

It certainly didn't do me any harm.