Pretty Hurts: The Plight of the Female Sex Symbol

beyonce pretty hurts

“WHENEVER YOU see a hot woman, there’s some guy out there tired of f*cking her.” – Anonymous

Beyoncé’s 2013 “Pretty Hurts” was a little on the nose in terms of music videos, and lyrics. That is, if we take it at face value. But if we look at Bae’s video and lyrics in the context of the rumors that have been swirling around her and Jay-Z and their on the run, will-they-won’t-they divorce, lately, there’s a little more going on.

“Just another stage, pageant the pain away.” 

“Trying to fix something that you can’t fix.” 

Particularly the part in the video when the pageant director asks B, as “Miss 3rd Ward,” what her aspiration in life is.

Answering in character, Beyoncé says, “to be happy,” after which the video quickly cuts to a shot of her without the weave and a single tear.

It makes you wonder just how closely Beyoncé’s art imitates her life. Are we watching Miss 3rd Ward, staring at herself in the mirror with tears streaking her cheeks, asking herself how her life turned out this way, or are we watching Beyoncé break down over a marriage that might be breaking up?

If you happened to find yourself at Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s On The Run tour earlier this month, you might have experienced an epiphany, like I did, when Bey stepped out on stage in one of her pants-less costumes, strutting her stuff and shaking her jelly: what a mindf*ck her life must be if those rumors are true. Here she is: arguably the biggest and most desirable pop star in the world. Her name has become synonymous with sex appeal and attractiveness — actually, forget synonymous, more like the definition. If we can take tweets and Tumblr posts seriously, there are millions of people on this planet that would literally give anything to have the chance to be intimate with her. Yet, if the rumors turn out to be true and Jay-Z has been entertaining dalliances on the side, everything Beyoncé brings to the table just isn’t enough for her husband. Not only does he stray, but he strays far. How, then, is it possible that, seemingly, the entire world wants to be with her, and her husband wants to get it in other places? What’s better than Beyoncé?

It makes your run-of-the-mill person out there think: “Man, if Beyoncé can be cheated on, what hope is there for the rest of us?”

As if she doesn’t have enough to deal with, Beyoncé also has to contend with the fact that she is a famous sex symbol — that whatever problems, real or rumored, she and her family are experiencing will necessarily be played out in the public’s eye. Fame is considered to be a drug uniquely its own — there’s no shortage of people that will tell you the rush they get stepping out on to a red carpet to throngs of adoring fans is a feeling like none other in this world. Sweet and addictive. But, like all drugs, the fallout from fame can be brutal: sex symbol or not, (alleged) cheating scandal or not, there’s also no shortage of celebrities that have succumbed to fame’s dark side, even if just for a bit. Britney Spears went bonkers. Marilyn Monroe overdosed on drugs and died — whether it was suicide, foul play, or a plain old accident. And authorities are still searching for the real Amanda Bynes, not the crazy look-alike who’s masquerading as her.

We realize that Beyoncé isn’t the first beautiful woman to be cheated on (if she has, in fact, been cheated on), and that she won’t be the last. And the situation might not have anything to do with her looks or a lack of sexual attraction for B on Jay’s part. There could be a number of reasons (though none justifiable — cheating isn’t cool, in our opinion) that account for Jay-Z cheating, if he truly did decide to dip his toes in someone else’s pond. Maybe he wanted to exert some power in what he saw as a relationship with unbalanced power dynamics. Maybe he was feeling insecure about how desirable Beyoncé is and decided he needed to feel like women desired him outside of his relationship, the way men desire his wife. Or maybe he’s just an ass. Most women who have unfaithful partners never find out the true reason behind the infidelity. But, unlike most everyone who experiences their fair share of problems, marital or otherwise, Beyoncé has to resolve the perception and expectations the public has of her with her own private truths.

Despite the money and power and rush that come with fame, there’s no doubt that being a sex symbol brings with it a staggering price. It’s easy to be sarcastic and take out our violins, playing a sad-string version of “Pretty Hurts,” but we can’t judge any woman and her relationship, even a public sex symbol the likes of Bae, unless we’ve walked in her shoes — or, in this case, her thigh-high boots.

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