By Tracy G. Cassels

I have to admit something.  Contrary to many, many, many people on this planet, I have spent most of the last ten years or so really being annoyed by Beyoncé.  I don’t find she’s that fantastic of a singer (especially compared to women like Whitney Houston, Adele, or Christina Aguilera) and listening to her in interviews just makes me cringe.  In fact, my dislike was strong enough that when I heard about the hospital fiasco, I had that smug feeling associated with knowing someone was no good all along, even though I knew at the time whatever was coming from it was largely the hospital’s fault.

I could have left it at that too.  Never written anything on her and just let it lie.  But I’m a sucker for acknowledging my shortcomings and there are times when you need to shelve your pride and give credit where credit is due.  So I’m sure you can imagine how it felt to sit back and watch someone I really didn’t want to like be someone I have to give props to as being a role model in the mom department.  It’s a big-ass pill to swallow, but it’s one I’ll gladly take.

Since the birth of her first daughter, Blue Ivy, Mrs. Carter has been around town (and boats) with her daughter strapped to her in a baby carrier instead of being pushed around in a stroller.  While I’m not a huge fan of the Bjorn which Beyoncé has been seen wearing (it’s a baby dangler), I’m thrilled she’s consistently seen out wearing her baby.  In fact, I did a search for images and couldn’t find a single one in which Blue Ivy was being pushed around in a stroller instead of being attached to her mom.  That’s awesome.

But perhaps even more importantly, given the celebrity Beyoncé has, she breastfed Blue Ivy and breastfed in public.  Many people will rightly note that their breastfeeding relationship was a rather short one (reportedly only 10 weeks in length), and as much as I prefer hearing stories of celebrity moms going for years (à la Mayim Bialik or Salma Hayek), 10 weeks is still better than nothing.  As someone with such a huge following and who is a large influence in the African American community, Beyoncé also may have helped many other African American women who would not have considered breastfeeding before (I say this based on the known low, low rates of breastfeeding by African American women).  She also provided young girls of all races an idol who breastfed.  Because, let’s face it, most of the celebrities who have breastfed for extended periods of time are not the ones that our younger generation of girls have plastered to their walls (sadly).  That kind of publicity can go a long way towards normalizing breastfeeding for our future moms.

And let’s not forget about the public breastfeeding.  At a time when women are harassed and asked to leave places or go to the bathroom to feed their baby, it’s refreshing to have another celebrity willing to feed in public.  It helps shut some people up, and again because of Beyoncé’s role as an idol to many young girls, may help normalize public breastfeeding for them, which in turn may make them more likely to consider it when they are older and have children of their own.  At a time when we have idiots like Kim Kardashian tweeting about how “gross” public breastfeeding is, it’s always refreshing and wonderful to see someone who so many people admire and look up to do something so natural and normal.

So… while I may not be a fan of Beyoncé the musician, I have to admit that she definitely has my respect as a mother.  And really, which one is more important?


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