by Harriet May
We’re on the Jubilee line heading towards Wembley when two teenage girls step onto the train, both in bright red lipstick, leggings and Ivy Park tshirts. “Wow,” says Ayesha, “they’re really fans.” But even though they’re the only two sporting pieces from Beyoncé’s new activewear line, it’s clear to see who else is on their way to see the Queen herself (“Bad Bitch B”, a jumbo screen mid-stage would later flash up during the show, to the beat of a YouTube fan’s jubilant staccato); there are a few women in gold headdresses and LBDs, and a gaggle standing by the door in heels, their hair gently curled, each with a can of Archers and lemonade in hand.
Ayesha takes a quick glance at our feet. “I’m glad none of us wear heels,” she’s saying, and Hannah and I shrug. “I don’t even own heels,” Hannah replies nonchalantly, and while I do they have noticeably shrunk since my illicit clubbing days in the sixth form.
We don’t rely on articles of clothing to feel womanly, and then, it’s just not practical in London, all cobbled streets and gaps to mind. Our lives are non-stop fast-paced busy and if we can’t move we’re stifled. (Beyoncé will open the show with Formation: “I dream it, I work hard, I grind ‘til I own it.”) There’s too much to do and too few hours in the day already to opt-in to such an obvious handicap.
Once we’re outside the stadium we wonder whether Blue Ivy is backstage. “Why not?” I’m saying, “I’m sure there’s an army of nannies back there with her.” Having female role models gets more complicated as you get older. Men have always had an array of choices; it has never been assumed that fatherhood is an obstacle to professional success, or that men can’t be more than one thing at any given time. (Later, home videos of Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s wedding, of their vacations, of their moments with Blue Ivy will be stretched three storeys high and punctuate the concert.) Sure there’s marketing and manufacturing, but still Beyoncé is all-encompassing.
Beyoncé isn’t like us, but she isn’t like anything else we’ve ever seen before, either.