January 15, 2014

No, I Actually Don’t Have As Many Hours In The Day As Beyonce

Shutterstock
Ain’t nobody got time to look like that. Shutterstock

I like that Beyoncé has become a role model for “having it all”, and I don’t think there’s a lot to be lost by having talented, accomplished, powerful women held up as emblems of strength and an unwillingness to be slowed down. But I am officially calling off this whole “You have as many hours in the day as Beyoncé” thing that has suddenly become the rallying cry of motivated, caffeinated women all over the internet. Because not only is it entirely untrue, but even though it appears to be a message of encouragement, it actually only serves to make us feel shitty about ourselves.

The problem with the new motivational mantra is that the notion of comparing ourselves, our lives, and our potential for getting things done with Beyoncé is – what’s the word? – total horse shit. Most of us do not, in fact, have nearly as many hours in the day as Beyoncé. The implication is that if we are not accomplishing “enough” (whether by our own standards or someone else’s), that we really have no one to blame but ourselves because, hellooo, look at all Beyoncé is doing. If she can do all of that, what is your excuse for not even making it to the gym once in the past month?

Here is a non-exhaustive list of tasks and time-eating activities that I have to do that I’m all but certain Beyoncé has someone else doing for her, thus freeing up many additional hours for making 100,000 music videos and writing brief essays with the most basic, surface analysis of gender equality ever:

Work

The lame truth is that, for the majority of people, going to work does not mean spending a long day working on whatever you’re passionate about. Yes, it’s likely that Beyoncé regularly spends whole days doing relatively tedious, un-creative tasks tangent to her actual music- and video-making, but for the most part, her job is to create amazing shit. She has those hours blocked out and gets paid well for it. For a lot of people, their current job has nothing to do with their creative or professional goals, so instead of those hours contributing to their growth and productivity, they are actually detracting from it. But, like, we all gotta get paid. But for some of us, that means losing potentially productive hours, not gaining them.

Laundry

Maybe Beyoncé does her own laundry, but I fucking doubt it. There are two hours right there that she has that I do not.

Waiting on standby at the airport

Baby no, Beyoncé is not doing that ever. I’m not saying celebs don’t ever fly commercial because they do, but I doubt the Carters are among them, and even if they were, you know they’re gonna be like, “Fuck this” and charter a private jet if there are hold-ups. A million more hours for her that I’ll spend sleeping on the terminal floor waiting to go home.

Doing dishes

If Beyoncé ever does dishes, it’s in some cute, ironic way, like “Oh, look at me, I’m doing dishes like a normal person, how adorable and average am I?!” Other that that, I’m pretty sure soaking a casserole dish never ate into her day.

In fact, all housework

Getting her car’s oil changed

First of all, which car? Second of all, she is definitely not the person who does that.

Waiting in line at Trader Joes for 45 minutes at 6pm on the way home from work

This is literally a thing Beyonce has likely never done.

Raising a child

We should always remember that the U.S. is the only industrialized country without mandatory paid maternity leave because it’s a terribly important social issue when you think about it. Childcare is expensive as fuck. Most mothers are constantly risking stressing themselves into an early grave trying to juggle the equally prevalent pressures to be a hyper-involved parent and an upwardly mobile working woman, all in a society that gives almost no institutionalized support to mothers. It’s a completely insane, no-win situation that is really one of the biggest remaining ways in which women are set up to fail and then taught to hate themselves for it.

This is a big one because I feel like since Beyoncé popped out little B.I.C., she has been used to shame moms who can’t seem to find time for things; “Beyoncé has a kid and look at all she gets done!” She has become an embodiment of all the horrible mixed messages being drilled into the heads of modern mothers – if you don’t have a bangin’ career, you’re a bad feminist, but if you take even a moment away from your kid, you’re a terrible mother, and oh yeah, none of this applies to men, kbye! – because she appears to pull off both being a great mom and a super powerful career woman (and a devoted wife with a healthy marriage, and she keeps herself lookin’ right on top of all that.)

You get the idea. This list could go on forever. The point, obviously, is that when you have money, you have the privilege of delegating a million less-important tasks to other people who you are paying to do that stuff for you. This protects your time to accomplish things that will then – what? – be held up as an example to make the rest of the non-rich, non-assistant-having population feel like their productivity is woefully inadequate? Yeah, that’s not right. And honestly, I feel like Beyoncé wouldn’t be okay with it. I’m just putting that out there. Judging by what I know about her personality via what she’s told me to believe about her personality, I don’t think she would want anything she does to make anyone feel about what they aren’t doing. Except maybe Lady Gaga.

Speaking of Brand Beyoncé, let’s not forget that what we perceive as Beyoncé being the perfect do-it-all lady is the result of some incredibly well-crafted image management; We see her that way because she and her team work their asses off to make sure we do. And, like, respect. But before we use her as a tool to shame each other for our lack of gracefully, easily balancing the many demands of life, let’s take a step back and realize that we don’t really know anything about her life. Just because she posts a few Instagrams of sweet moments with her child doesn’t mean that kid isn’t spending 18 hours a day with a nanny, something a regular mom would be shamed as fuck for. I’m not, for the record, claiming that to be true – the point is, we do not know. We do not know how Beyoncé does what she does, and how she makes all the pieces fit, and what the reality of her work/life balance is, but we do know that she has exponentially greater resources with which to figure it out.

We’ve always heard that “time equals money”. It’s equally true that “money equals time”. It’s entirely unfair to say that any of us has as many hours in the day as Beyoncé, because the reality is, she has the resources to pay other people to do the things that clutter up the schedules of regular people, giving her the extra hours that mean radically increased productivity. I do not begrudge her that – I love what she’s doing with those hours, a lot of which is creating things and crafting messages that empower and inspire and that’s a genuinely positive thing.

To be clear, I’m not criticizing Beyoncé right now. This is a criticism of the mindset that we should compare our productivity, or success, or overall degree of accomplishment to her or anyone else; We’re all working with wildly different constraints and obligations, and resources to help us juggle them. The implication that what one person – one very rich person, with a whole team of people whose entire jobs are to make her life more streamlined so she can focus on being awesome – is capable of should make us feel comparatively good or bad about what we’re doing is not helpful. TC Mark