“the original queen of derrieres”: a daily mail deep reading of beyoncé’s selfies

so this first caught my eye because of the horrible HTML error.

(via the daily mail)

which i briefly believed to be an accurate portrayal of a company’s brand name.

which, in turn, led me to try to figure out how one would pronounce “Bar62328562dot” and what kind of corporate committee thought that was a hip way to do business.

then i was like, oh yeah, that’s an html error.

and THEN, i was like, oh yeah, this is a great way to start a blog post. which i maybe should’ve thought further about being it’s not been particularly gripping in practice…?

anyhoo… SURPRISE! this article is GROSS.

i know. i know. you are like, but oline! this is the daily mail! this is an article about a pregnant, black woman, and casual misogyny, racism and objectification are what the daily mail does best! 

well, yes, that would be true. this is a typical daily mail piece of celeb reportage, and it succeeds in being gross in all the ways one would imagine. so, since the mail has fixed their html flub…let’s talk about language!!

and then everyone’s eyes rolled… but no really, the daily mail has an amazing history of using antiquated language no one ever uses in real life.

on 8 september 2016 (gosh, what another world that was), i took a screenshot of a celebitchy comment strand which succinctly mocked the daily mail‘s rhetoric and which now comes in handy:

such phrases recur with such regularity in the daily mail’s reporting that i imagine daily mail reporters, on reporting to work their first day, are handed a laminated sheet with these words printed upon it.

so above, when we were parsing”Bar62328562dot,” did you catch this?

which seems a contestable historical point (uhhhhummmmm… J.LO.) but one probably not worth making as it’s more than a little sexist in itself, but really, were we aware that this was an official post? Queen of the Derrieres.

and does anyone, outside of the daily mail and the lyrics of britney’s “piece of me” (probably directly quoting the daily mail) and actual french people talking about their bottoms say derriére anymore?

i warn you up front that my point here is very small, in that i want us to consider words.

but my point is also enormo in that those words are connected to broader discourses: about women- especially black women- and women’s bodies, and the way media outlets talk and write about women and women’s bodies. and they way they often do that through talking about what women wear.

translation: a pregnant woman, who is married and has a child, wore a form-fitting dress and uploaded some selfies.

translation: in these selfies, you could see this pregnant woman was pregnant and that she has a butt.

translation: this woman wore clothes pretty much like the clothes we all wear now. she has hair and put beads in it.

translation: this woman has a daughter who also knows how to stand in front of a camera.

translation: this woman’s daughter also wears clothes.

am i being shrill? strident? SASSY? i do wonder, because tone seems so important, always. and perhaps this seems silly. and, i will acknowledge, it’s more complicated than the words. because the mail is looking at pictures here, providing a narration. and, when we look at images of people, the narrative route we take is typically via what they’re wearing rather than what they’ve done in the past.

the thing you have to know though is that this occurs more often with women, because men’s clothing is typically less diverse and also because clothing has historically been the mode through which women have been able to express identity. (a recent, GLARING exception being tom hiddleston’s “I ❤ T.S.” shirt.)

so, on the one hand, this article may appear benign. LOOK AT THE PRETTY PICTURES!!! it tells us.


it’s the intensity of the looking that is troubling (much as it was in 2015 when the mail wrote fan-fic about taking teresa may’s dress off). if the principle way that we write about women has to do with what they wear, then the way we write about what they wear matters a whole hell of a lot.

it is standard in gossip journalism to be constantly reminded of everyone’s ages. (this is why i’ve a startlingly encyclopedic knowledge of obscure celebrity ages- every time i read about jessica beale, i am reminded she is now 35.) already this article informed us that beyoncé is 35, jay z is 47, blue ivy is 5 and the twins are a few months away from being born. so it’s not odd that we would be reminded tina knowles is 63.

what’s odd here is the message conveyed collectively: tina is 63. she is still stunning. through her clothing, she appears ageless.

i was about to say, SEE!!! every woman introduced in this article is introduced in relation to her clothing, except wait. that is an untruth.

kelly rowland is introduced through her marriage and her son.

the biographer part of me appreciates the inclusion of the- within the context of this article- seemingly totally irrelevant detail that they dated for three years.

the human being part of me resents that, in the context of this article, kelly rowland is the only one given a speaking part and it is three paragraphs on motherhood, whether she wants to have more children, and whether her two-year-old son and five-year-old blue ivy should date.


predictably, the article ends in classic daily mail style, with a series of “meanwhile” pivots:

a link through which we can buy £500+ shoes and BE LIKE BEYONCÉ:

and a reminder of events we already lived through:

(via the daily mail)

the thing is this: in all that writing about “her blossoming bump and bodacious booty,” “her enviable figure,” her “hot selfies” and “smoking hot” look, “her naturally plump derriere,” “her burgeoning baby bump,” her “adorable” daughter and “stunning mum,” did you get any sense that we were talking about human beings here?

or was it just a collection of body parts and clothes to which names, ages and light love dramas were attached?

One thought on ““the original queen of derrieres”: a daily mail deep reading of beyoncé’s selfies

  1. Pingback: caroline kennedy at the met ball | finding jackie

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