As I type this, one of my friends is having a Beyonce-themed birthday party. There’s a Beyonce cake, Beyonce masks and even a party guest dressed as Jay-Z, aka Mr. Beyonce. The cake is an impressive edifice; a card Beyonce dances on a totally edible stage with a totally edible backdrop. It’s pretty darn cool.
I’m not typing this at the party, by that way. That would be a bit weird. I’m in a totally different part of the country, thinking a bit about hero worship and trying to get rid of the mental image of several grown women, all dressed like Beyonce – one from the ‘Videophone’ video, another from ‘Single Ladies’ and so on – dancing around the place in cardboard Beyonce masks. I’m not trying to get rid of that mental image because I hate to think of my friends having fun (which I don’t, I swear a bit unconvincingly), it’s just the identical masks, the repetition, the anonymity that gets me. In my head it’s a bit like an Aphex Twin video, albeit a very glamorous and cake-filled one.*
There are many things to like about Beyonce. She’s one of the thankfully ever-growing list of female musicians that women look up to for more than just their singing abilities. People love Beyonce because she seems perfect even in her imperfections. Adele is her mirror twin, with fans finding a refuge in the many emotional false turns she takes in her songs. Lady Gaga is much-loved for her envelope-pushing outfit choices, as well as her bravery in risking a serious case of toxoplasmosis from wearing that meat dress.
Oh, and they sing good.
At some stage in our lives, we want to become our idols. It’s a bit odd, really. We admire their interior qualities, like their eloquence or political ideology or total lack of shame, but somehow this translates to dressing just like them, seriously or for fun. Many women want to act like Kesha at festivals (including that whole ‘I can’t find a loo so I’ll just pee on the side of the road’ thing), so they dress up in ripped short shorts and put feathers in their hair and roll around in dirt and glitter, or at least I – sorry, they – thought that was mud. And glitter.
I’m rewinding back in time to 1996, when I was adamant that I was the Posh Spice in our small group of neighbourhood friends. I was a brunette with a sharp bob, my dad had a nice car back then and I was a habitual frowner. The evidence was irrefutable. However, I got shouted down by the others, who were all brunettes of a certain hue, and I had to be Baby Spice.
It’s almost twenty years later, and I have got over not being Victoria Beckham. Unlike other pop icons, I can now buy her clothes and, unlike other pop icons with clothing lines, her creations don’t make my eyeballs want to melt right out of their sockets.
Kill your idols? Don’t bother. Dress like them instead.
* I don’t really think your birthday party was like an Aphex Twin video, Friend.