Never has Beyonce, as a person and even her music, been so universal as she is on her beautiful single “Pretty Hurts”, a somber ballad that tackles the issue of insecurity when its attacking us at our lowest level. While on her dynamic new self-titled 5th album, “Superpower”, “Heaven”, and “Blue” come close to being the saddest or disarming songs of all, it was “Pretty Hurts” that hardcore Bey fans really let it be known had touched them to the core. For the aforementioned tracks, its glory and its pain are evident, but are of the kind of initiation that only an older adult or at least a parent can understand. So while younger listeners could still identify with the issue of hearts at a troublesome or endearing point, “Pretty Hurts” touches on the impending rash of believing our physical inadequacies rather than celebrating our distinctive attributes, which doesn’t discriminate any which way or wait until one is of a certain age. For example, there are memoirs on memoirs of authors detailing the silent horror of the days when they felt or were even labelled as too fat, awkward, gawky…you name it. They were it and was too much for their peers and even usually well-intended elders to accept. The last statement is not because of how smart, bad (ass), or even creative is why they felt like they didn’t belong; but because of how they looked that made them feel further from perfect than you could imagined. Normalcy was a right not given, and perfection was nothing but a dream. “Pretty Hurts” is a manifesting alert to stop the self-hate.
Lyrically, the song is non-didactic in discussing the condition of insecurity. For some fans, undoubtedly such sad words sung from a woman that seemingly has it all: success; boatloads of money; fame; beauty, and hell, even a family of her own, sharing her experiences with self-doubt and all the tortures she’s gone through for an gone is for the hope she is not alone, and her fans in return don’t feel the same again. And on a side note, Beyonce was a young pageant queen (or princess) herself in Houston, Texas. So while she never came in competitions less than No. 1 according to her father, having always feeling the need, not just desire, but necessity to be the only factor is a special kind of pressure that might possibly be worse than just trying to keep up with general expectations of greatness in the first place.
And even throughout her career, it seemed obtaining perfection was Beyonce’s ultimate downfall in coming across as a real person. She even admitted to ELLE magazine in 2008. that everything from the eyeshadow is planned ahead in her camp. In her GQ cover story of this year, she let the journalist briefly visit and mention her personal video library of every interview and clip caught on camera of herself for reflection purposes. Pretty intense.
The song “Pretty Hurts” is so swollen with emotion and forgiveness, the video packs even more impact with its epic visualizations. As a woman engaging in pageants, Beyonce plays a character that is a bit unlikable as she creates an obvious rivalry with the other girls, but also a sympathetic side is allowed to surface because we see that she ultimately unhappy in having to continue to please everyone but herself.
When the chorus kicks in, it takes the morose subject and instead soars in a sweeping revelation that acknowledges the pain and uses it towards deliverance. To hear it alone is inspiring. To watch the video, you will feel and remember all those times you allowed demons to get the best of you even deeper. In a day and age where young girls in 2013 uploaded home videos of themselves to YouTube asking curious viewers if they thought to were pretty or not (to basically leave their answer in the comment section), “Thinspiration” blogs were still receiving traffic, and Lululemon’s founder’s terrible comments about women who were a bit rounder wearing his once worthy yoga pants, “Pretty Hurts” couldn’t be any more profound.
Pretty hurts. We shine the light on whatever’s worst. Perfection is a disease of a nation. Pretty hurts. Pretty hurts.
Pretty hurts. Shine the light on whatever’s worst. Trying to fix something but you can’t fix what you can’t see. It’s the soul that needs the surgery.
Furthermore the video features two Albino models, Shaun Ross and Diandra Forrest (and check out Harvey Keital as the pageant host) in Beyonce’s mini movie against assimilation.
Since hearing this song, applying makeup as a part of your usual morning or leaving the house routine will feel less pitiful and more empowering. Instead of trying to hide everything away, after “Pretty Hurts” you’ll want the various paints and colors and tricks to highlight the face that the powers that be have given you. Body-wise, you may even feel the urge to give your body a break. It may not be “perfect” but its yours. By the time you’ve flicked the edge of your eyeliner and hair-sprayed one last time or even left it stylishly unkempt, just because you want to look put-together doesn’t make you narcissistic or a bad person. Even after the outfit you wanted has been picked and you’ve finally found that one pink lipstick that works, it’s okay that in a perfect world you would take the chance to change a thing or two about yourself. Yet notice the key word in there. PERFECT. Does it exist? Hmmmm. Occasionally we get the picture of what it can and could be, but nothing that is perfect last forever, and true beauty is a work in progress and full of individuality. And we understand how hard it can be to keep a brave face when in the media’s manipulation, features switch popularity rates (having a ample bottom today is the large chest of the ’90s), and certain battles rage on (light skin vs. dark skin), buy why be perfect when you can be different?
Some detractors could state that while the message is great, is she being contradictory as when every time we see Beyonce, she flossed to the masses for her adoring audience. What’s funny however that is when hearing the song for the very first time, likely a few couldn’t help but ask: “What the fuck does she (aka Beyonce) know about pretty hurts?” Apparently more than we could ever imagined.