“She looks like Solange!” (which I personally think is a compliment, but the speaker didn’t seem to mean it as such)
“She looks like Carrie on the episode of [Sex and the City] where Carrie was on the cover hungover.”
And, my favorite criticism masked as concern: “Um, where are her pants?” which is actually a legitimate question.
In all fairness, would a man ever appear (or be asked to or allowed to appear) on the cover of the Most Influential issue in his underpants? And even if he did and it wasn’t the most flattering picture, would he be ripped this way? Would we notice? Or would be all be too busy discussing the merits of his influence (fair game for a cover about, well, influence)?
Beyoncé’s continued reign as the queen of pop culture and a woman of great influence (evidently) means the critiques are fair game. But part of me wonders if there’s ever a time just to lay off and acknowledge when someone is doing the damn thing—despite what they look like.
I remember many years ago when Lauryn Hill landed the cover of Time—and not for the Most Influential issue. It was a really big deal because black girls just didn’t—and don’t—get Time covers all willy-nilly. So while I have my occasional concerns about brand Beyoncé—and for clarity, I agree this isn’t her best picture, but it’s also far from her worst, and who cares because she’s on the cover of Time, people!—sometimes it’s just, well, time to put all that other stuff aside to celebrate a black (and female) face in a high place, knowing how hard she’s worked to get there.
Because you have the right to complain about everything doesn’t mean you should. And knowing when to lay off complaining and just think, “Congratulations. Good for her” is the difference between sounding like a critic and sounding like a hater.
Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life and the upcoming Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love. Follow her on Twitter.