Beyoncé was honored with the Fashion Icon Award at the star-studded CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) Awards, and took the opportunity to make a beautiful, personal acceptance speech. Discussing her early journey to stardom, Beyoncé thanks her mother, grandmother, and uncle for hand-sewing her costumes when they were too poor to buy them.
"When I wore these clothes I felt like Khaleesi," she says, "I had an extra suit of armor. It was so much deeper than any brand name." It was a moving moment of vulnerability, a different sort of slay.
Here's the whole speech. Hope you've got Kleenex in your bag (swag).
Or, if you're not ready to hear the emotion in the queen's voice, read it below. Beyonce begins with a gracious tone, thanking her presenter for the introduction and hearkening back to the day's when her grandmother worked as a seamstress.
Thank you so much, Diane, for the things you just said about me. I feel so much love and I feel so proud. As long as I can remember, fashion has been part of my life. Its effect on me actually started before I was born. Many of you guys don’t know this, but my grandmother was a seamstress. My grandparents did not have enough money, they could not afford my mother’s Catholic school tuition. So my grandmother sewed clothes for the priests and the nuns and made uniforms for the students in exchange for my mother’s education. She then passed this gift onto my mother and taught her how to sew.
She talks about how difficult it was to find clothing to suit her body type, but how she still insisted on not conforming to that standard:
Starting out in Destiny’s Child, high-end labels didn’t really want to dress four black country curvy girls, and we couldn’t afford designer dresses and couture.
Wow. Certainly, if Beyonce holds a grudge, those particular labels are suffering now. Of course, even though Beyonce doesn't have issues with brands not wanting her to represent them anymore, she still has to defend herself against body shamers from time to time. Like the one time her "thigh gap" became an issue. But clearly, Bey doesn't let it bother her much.
My mother was rejected from every showroom in New York. But like my grandmother, she used her talent and her creativity to give her children their dreams. My mother and my uncle, God rest his soul, made all of our first costumes, individually sewing hundreds of crystals and pearls, putting so much passion and love into every small detail.
While many associate fashion with body image and anxiety, Beyoncé expresses how clothes can actually empower.
When I wore these clothes I felt like Khaleesi. I had an extra suit of armor. It was so much deeper than any brand name.
Before moving on to, again, give all the credit to her family:
My mother is fabulous and beautiful and she’s here tonight. My mother, my grandmother, and my uncle are always with me so I cannot fail. My mother actually designed my wedding dress, my prom dress, my first CFDA Award dress, my first Grammy dress, and the list goes on and on. And this to me is the true power and potential of fashion. It’s a tool for finding your own identity. It transcends style, and it’s a time capsule of all of our greatest milestones. So to my mother, my grandmother, my uncle, thank y’all. Thank you for showing me that having presence is about far more than the clothes you wear and your physical beauty. Thank you for showing me how to take risks, work hard, and live life on my own terms.
She thanks designers for making clothes that lets people be themselves, and give opportunities for self-expression.
I want to say thank you to every designer who works tirelessly to make people think they can write their own story. Y’all are fairy godmothers, magicians, sculptors, and sometimes even our therapists. I encourage you to not forget this power you have or to take it lightly. We have the opportunity to contribute to a society where any girl can look at a billboard or magazine cover and see her own reflection. Soul has no color, no shape, no form. Just like all of your work, it goes far beyond what the eye can see. You have the power to change perception, to inspire and empower, and to show people how to embrace their complications, and see the flaws, and the true beauty and strength that’s inside all of us. Thank you so much for this incredible award, I’ll never forget this night. God bless you all. Thank you.