Beyoncé Gets Shockingly Real About Her Career, Body, and Legacy

After much speculation, the cover of Vogue‘s September issue is finally here, featuring Beyoncé in all her glory. The set of two covers and accompanying spread was shot by 23-year-old photographer Tyler Mitchell, a purposeful statement made by the both Beyoncé and the magazine. “Not only is an African American on the cover of the most important month for Vogue,” the singer told Clover Hope. “This is the first ever Vogue cover shot by an African American photographer.”

Inside the issue, Beyoncé shares in an essay-format piece her thoughts on everything from her pregnancies and her changing body, to her personal journey, sharing intimacies rarely revealed by the usually-private star. Beyoncé also discusses the fact that as she finds confidence and power in her success, she finds it important to open the doors for those that follow her. She says, “if people in powerful positions continue to hire and cast only people who look like them, sound like them, come from the same neighborhoods they grew up in, they will never have a greater understanding of experiences different from their own.

Read on now for a look at the shoot from the September issue of Vogue, and read more of what Beyoncé had to say about her career, body image, and her family. 

On Beyoncé: Alexander McQueen dress and corset; Lynn Ban earrings. On Pregnancy and body image:  “After the birth of my first child, I believed in the things society said about how my body should look. I put pressure on myself to lose all the baby weight in three months and scheduled a small tour to assure I would do it. Looking back, that was crazy. I was still breastfeeding when I performed the Revel shows in Atlantic City in 2012. After the twins, I approached things very differently.”
On Beyoncé: Gucci dress; Lynn Ban headpiece; Rebel Rebel floral headdress. On getting real about her body:  “I think it’s important for women and men to see and appreciate the beauty in their natural bodies. That’s why I stripped away the wigs and hair extensions and used little makeup for this shoot.  To this day my arms, shoulders, breasts, and thighs are fuller. I have a little mommy pouch, and I’m in no rush to get rid of it. I think it’s real. Whenever I’m ready to get a six-pack, I will go into beast zone and work my ass off until I have it. But right now, my little FUPA and I feel like we are meant to be.”
On Beyoncé: Phil John Perry for Rebel Rebel floral headdress; Erickson Beamon earrings; Lynn Ban necklaces. On working with Tyler Mitchell:  “It’s important to me that I help open doors for younger artists. There are so many cultural and societal barriers to entry that I like to do what I can to level the playing field, to present a different point of view for people who may feel like their voices don’t matter. Imagine if someone hadn’t given a chance to the brilliant women who came before me: Josephine Baker, Nina Simone, Eartha Kitt, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Diana Ross, Whitney Houston, and the list goes on. They opened the doors for me, and I pray that I’m doing all I can to open doors for the next generation of talents.”
On Beyoncé: Gucci dress; Bvlgari earrings. On her personal journey:  “I’ve been through hell and back, and I’m grateful for every scar. I have experienced betrayals and heartbreaks in many forms. I have had disappointments in business partnerships as well as personal ones, and they all left me feeling neglected, lost, and vulnerable. Through it all I have learned to laugh and cry and grow. I look at the woman I was in my 20s and I see a young lady growing into confidence but intent on pleasing everyone around her. I now feel so much more beautiful, so much sexier, so much more interesting. And so much more powerful.”
On Beyoncé: Gucci dress; Lynn Ban headpiece; Rebel Rebel floral headdress. On performing at Coachella:  “I know that most of the young people on the stage and in the audience did not know the history of the black national anthem before Coachella. But they understood the feeling it gave them. It was a celebration of all the people who sacrificed more than we could ever imagine, who moved the world forward so that it could welcome a woman of color to headline such a festival.”
On Beyoncé: Philip Treacy London hat; Valentino Dress. On her hopes for her children:  “As the mother of two girls, it’s important to me that they see themselves too—in books, films, and on runways. It’s important to me that they see themselves as CEOs, as bosses, and that they know they can write the script for their own lives—that they can speak their minds and they have no ceiling.  I want the same things for my son. I want him to know that he can be strong and brave but that he can also be sensitive and kind.”

This revealing look at Beyoncé is a major inspiration.