On Saturday February 6th, 2016 Beyoncé broke the internet and dominated mainstream news.
The Forbes list most powerful female musician of 2015 and global entertainment powerhouse stunned last week’s Super bowl half-time show with her so called shit-stirring, ‘Formation’ song.
Frankly, I haven’t been into any of Bey’s music for the longest time, or any mainstream songs played on the radio for that matter. But because her so called controversial Formation song and half-time performance at the Super Bowl dominated national news for the entire past week, I just had to check out what all the fuss was about.
Searching for her Formation song on YouTube was nothing short of interesting. Her music video was unlisted so seeking it is not for the faint-hearted. One has to have perseverance on a curious finger to click randomly at any or every Reaction video on YouTube. I was bored with nothing to do that afternoon, so I ended up managing to get the link to both dirty and clean versions of Bey’s Formation song.
I clicked on the provided link and pressed play.
Above is the still shot of Beyonce in her beautiful Afro taken from her Formation music video as photographed by Robin Harper.
During the 4 minutes and 53 second Formation music video, I swear someone must have been sitting right next to me peeling from a 2 kg bag filled right to the top with raw and freshly chopped onions. And I’m pretty sure it was raining too, although the sun was high up in the sky, shining ever so brightly. It was such a weird observation to experience while watching Beyoncé’s Formation song. If you also experienced something similar, you can trust me when I say, that I won’t tell anybody you cried so much, the heavens opening its floodgates got nothing on you. Don’t worry, it will be our little secret.
Mockery and tissues aside, Bey’s message here was evidently loud and clear: SELF-LOVE. And it was a special message directed only to a specific group of people in America. Her video was layered with rich heritage and uncovered dark history as well as mountaintop victories of her people.
But what had impacted me the most as a Fijian woman graced with the buiniga like most Fijian women, was the powerful statement she made on wholly embracing and celebrating your identity.
Strong Sisterhood Solidarity
Bey performed with a group of naturals in what appeared to be an empty indoor swimming pool. Arm in arm and linked to each other, the choreography appears to present some sort of a chain domino effect that can never be broken or made to feel inferior.
Again, the message from Bey was quite loud and clear in this particular setting: Ladies, let’s build each other up! And lets do this most importantly, for our younger generations who are watching us lead the way.
What I Loved Most About Beyonce’s Formation? BEING REPRESENTED
When I got into Class 1 at an amazing and very small primary school in Fiji, there was an hour after recess dedicated to story time. We would all crash on the wooden floor enthusiastically waiting for the smooth talking voice of the narrator coming from the portable radio to feed our little minds with whimsical tales of magical Agrabah. We would take turns volunteering to hold the Disney storybook up and dutifully turn the page after the narrator was done reading it out loud to us.
As much as I tried as a 6 year old, I never could relate to any of these Disney Princesses. Put quite simply, I couldn’t see myself in any of them at all.
Fast forward to a few years later when Pocahontas joined the Disney Princesses club. I could relate to the whole family values thing but something just wasn’t right. Why is it that the first dark-skinned Disney Princess, daughter of the village Chief, feel uneasy around the guy her father chose for her to marry? Why did she choose John Smith instead? Oh? Because the other guy was “too serious”? Hmm…it does come across to a 9 year old kid as odd, that someone who encompasses all the merits, being the bravest and strongest young warrior in the village, hand-picked by a very wise and intelligent village Chief would still not be considered good enough?
At such a young age, I began to question whether or not I should even have my natural hair neatly trimmed and conscientiously combed into a beautiful Fijian buiniga once every two months or so, by my beautiful mother or one of her amazing sisters or my gracefully stoic Bu – all of whom proudly wear their beautiful buiniga to this day.
Soon after, my parents introduced me to watching a Sunday afternoon program with them, on Fiji One called The Pacific Way and for good reason: to empower me to embrace the natural essence of a beautiful Fijian woman. It was the first time I saw Ms. Lenora Qereqeretabua.
She was the host for The Pacific Way, a popular national and regional TV personality who also frequently graced family homes to market products and services from companies and supermarkets.
Lenora came in like a breath of freshness. She was the quintessential Fijian Princess every little Fijian girl with a buiniga at that time, like yours truly, were silently looking for to grace the small screen. There were so many similarities I could easily identify myself with right away. And it’s such a damn good feeling to finally be represented to the rest of the world!
Her genuinely vibrant Fijian smile, neat presentation of self-confidence lit up something that was, little by little, deprived from 9 year old me. But most importantly, it was how she gracefully wore her Buiniga on national television, proudly representing the natural essence of beauty found in the iTaukei people. It was something that I knew subconsciously as a kid that it was very important to be validated and represented.
Since then, globalization introduced a wave of Westernized popular culture that became deeply entrenched with visual and virtual messages dishing out beauty standard after beauty standard to the young and old who particularly inhibit body image insecurities. Yes, we do hide these insecurities well.
If you’re not strongly grounded with who you are, you could get swept away easily with the tide and drown in even more self-doubt and thoughts of inadequacy.
Message To My Twenty-Something Self from Beyonce’s Formation Song
As a Fijian woman, Formation was personally interpreted as a celebration of my natural physical features like my Buiniga or ‘Afro hair’, as generally referenced by acquaintances.
Beyonce’s Formation song strongly reminded me to never, ever forget where I came from and the struggle my ancestors went through in their time for me to get here. Their struggle must not be in vain.
So it’s time to stop insulting God’s grandest masterpiece: YOU! YOUR NATURALLY BEAUTIFUL SELF!
Much Love and Peace xo
~Marama Vaka Buiniga~