Beyonce made her first public outing this week since giving birth to her first child, Blue, in January. The 30-year-old pop queen was photographed wearing a form-fitting orange dress as she attended an after party for her husband Jay-Z’s Carnegie Hall benefit concert.
Considering the extremely high anticipation surrounding the baby’s birth, it’s not surprising that entertainment outlets (including this one) reported on Bey’s reappearance. (What can we say? We missed her!)
Most of the commentary centered around how good the singer looks such a short time after giving birth. People magazine declared, “Beyonce flaunted an enviable-as-ever figure late Monday night in New York.” The Examiner, L.A. Times and TooFab.com also used that f-verb.
But was Beyonce really flaunting her body? I don’t think so.
The word “flaunt” gets thrown around a lot by tabloids and entertainment sites to describe, primarily, a female celebrity’s body.
According to Merriam-Webster, flaunt means “to display or obtrude oneself to public notice” or “to display ostentatiously or impudently.” The word implies the person is “shamelessly” putting themselves out there to be looked at and talked about. It has a negative connotation.
So it is accurate to say, for example, that teen bride Courtney Stodden is flaunting her body in these photos taken at the beach. She clearly knows she’s being photographed and is putting herself on display. But to suggest that Beyonce was “flaunting” her post-pregnancy physique, or that Jennifer Garner was flaunting her baby bump while being unknowingly photographed? That’s ridiculous.
In case you were wondering, yes, a media outlet can also decide when a woman is purposefully not flaunting. The Daily Mail published a picture of Jessica Simpson wearing a flowing skirt and top back in August and declared she “was in no mood to flaunt her figure.” (Two months later, she revealed her pregnancy. Since then she’s been flaunting her baby body left and right.)
Males celebrities, on the other hand, mostly flaunt their abs. Take this photo of Mario Lopez in his underpants on national television. Dude is flaunting his bod. George Clooney also did some flaunting recently — of his “cartooning skills.”
For the record, there’s nothing wrong with some uber-confidence. If men or women are proud of something — be it their body, brain, wealth or anything in between — they should be able to show it off. And to be fair to the writers singled out above, I’m sure the word was not meant as a negative.
But in the name of proper word usage, was there really something ostentatious about the way Beyonce was dressed this week? Are the Jagger sisters really flaunting their mouths in this picture by wearing red lipstick? Is Dame Helen Mirren really shamelessly displaying her figure in this gown? No, no and no, I say.
Here’s my plea: Let’s use flaunt sparingly. Instead of Beyonce flaunting her so-called post-baby body, let’s say she is celebrating it by wearing a dress that conforms to her curves? That way, we reserve the word for the actual flaunters. (You know, like Kim Kardashian.)