Queen Bey rules Vogue.
The superstar singer graces the magazine’s September issue, shot by 23-year-old Atlanta photographer Tyler Mitchell, who was hand selected by Beyoncé. The groundbreaking cover, her fourth for Vogue, marks the first time in the magazine’s 126-year history that a black photographer has shot the cover of the fashion bible.
“When I first started, 21 years ago, I was told that it was hard for me to get onto covers of magazines because black people did not sell,” writes Bey. “Clearly that has been proven a myth. Not only is an African American on the cover of the most important month for Vogue, this is the first ever Vogue cover shot by an African American photographer.”
In the stunning shoot, the “Flawless” Mrs. Carter dons a floral headdress and designer creations by Louis Vuitton, Valentino, Dior, and Gucci, while speaking about her pregnancy and delivery, ancestry, historic Coachella performance, and the legacy she hopes to leave her three children, Blue, Rumi, and Sir.
After going “through hell and back,” life is good for the 36-year-old. “I’m in a place of gratitude right now,” says Beyoncé. “I am accepting of who I am. I will continue to explore every inch of my soul and every part of my artistry. I want to learn more, teach more, and live in full. I’ve worked long and hard to be able to get to a place where I can choose to surround myself with what fulfills and inspires me.”
See photos and read highlights from the September issue below.
On her pregnancy with Blue: “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 the birth of twins Rumi and Sir: “I was 218 pounds the day I gave birth to Rumi and Sir. I was swollen from toxemia and had been on bed rest for over a month. My health and my babies’ health were in danger, so I had an emergency C-section. We spent many weeks in the NICU. My husband was a soldier and such a strong support system for me. I am proud to have been a witness to his strength and evolution as a man, a best friend, and a father. I was in survival mode and did not grasp it all until months later.”
On her body acceptance: “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 her heritage: “I researched my ancestry recently and learned that I come from a slave owner who fell in love with and married a slave. I had to process that revelation over time. I questioned what it meant and tried to put it into perspective. I now believe it’s why God blessed me with my twins. Male and female energy was able to coexist and grow in my blood for the first time. I pray that I am able to break the generational curses in my family and that my children will have less complicated lives.”
On her growth: “There are many shades on every journey. Nothing is black or white. 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.”
On 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 empowering her daughters: “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. They don’t have to be a certain type or fit into a specific category. They don’t have to be politically correct, as long as they’re authentic, respectful, compassionate, and empathetic. They can explore any religion, fall in love with any race, and love who they want to love.”
On her son Sir: “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. I want my son to have a high emotional IQ where he is free to be caring, truthful, and honest. It’s everything a woman wants in a man, and yet we don’t teach it to our boys.”