I often comment on the presence of my FUPA after dressing myself in whatever pair of high-waisted jeans or wide-leg culottes I’ve chosen that day. When I do, friends try to convince me that I’m wrong, that the FUPA is not, in fact, present — or that it is present but not to worry, I’ve concealed it quite well. For me, though, FUPA acknowledgment isn’t about self-loathing, nor is it some form of positive affirmation — in general, I prefer to keep my body parts completely detached from moral judgment.
In other words, my FUPA just is.
Beyoncé referenced her own FUPA in the September 2018 issue of Vogue, the publication’s largest and most influential of the year. It’s the latest in a long line of Beyoncé-breaks-the-internet moments: In February 2017, her pregnancy announcement inspired a thousand floral photo shoots. Later than month, her very pregnant Grammys performance destroyed our mortal souls. In summer 2018, Coachella was unofficially rebranded as Beychella after she gave the live performance of the year to tens of thousands of sweaty influencers.
And, in August 2018, Beyoncé freed the FUPA.
She did so without the usual apologetic exposition that celebrities often make when discussing any part of their body that has grown larger for any reason at all, even if that reason is a child developing inside.
“To this day, my arms, shoulders, breasts, and thighs are fuller,” Beyoncé says in the Vogue article, which is essentially a collection of miniature essays on various subjects, including, for the first time, her twin pregnancy and childbirth, and her body thereafter. “I have a little mommy pouch, and I’m in no rush to get rid of it,” she writes. “I think it’s real. Whenever I’m ready to get a six-pack, I will go into beast zone and work my ass off until I have it. But right now, my little FUPA and I feel like we are meant to be.”
For those who are unfamiliar, FUPA stands for Fat Upper Pussy Area — and I’m almost certain the acronym has never been printed in the hallowed pages of Vogue before this day. Technically, it refers to the part of the body just above the vulva and just below the belly that can hold weight, particularly after a woman has been pregnant. In Vogue, Beyoncé shared a lot of details of her pregnancy with twins Rumi and Sir — the toxemia, the bed rest, the emergency C-section, and, of course, the FUPA. She acknowledged her FUPA as a statement of fact, a physical reality that she’s embraced instead of a problem she’s got to Master Cleanse herself of with a quickness.
It was refreshing to read a story like that from Beyoncé, who is typically private with the details of her personal and family life, and has historically been silent on the state of the area above her pussy. Perhaps more refreshing, though, was to see her speak so candidly about having a body part that, when referred to in such terms, tends to either scandalize people or leave them nervously looking for a way to tell you you’re just imagining things.
Women are frequently told to “embrace their curves” and “love their shape” and “celebrate their stretch marks” — but when it comes to the less glamorous aspects of weight gain, particularly in areas of the body that don’t have traditional sex appeal, it’s a different story. For example, the September issue of Vogue UK, Rihanna addressed the public’s fascination with her own weight gain. Her comfort with her changing body was refreshing, but she also posited the fat around her midsection as the cost of doing business with a big butt.
“[Having a butt] comes with a price,” she said in the interview. “You want to have a butt, then you have a gut.”
In other words, having big boobs and a big ass is acceptable, and having a belly (however small that belly might be) is a drawback. The FUPA certainly fits under the belly-fat umbrella, but Beyoncé didn’t treat it as a drawback. She took Rihanna’s “cost of doing business” and raised it to “the natural order of things.” Like mine, Beyonce’s FUPA just is.
I have to admit: by its most rigid definition, I don’t actually have a FUPA: Mine is just your standard, run of the mill belly. I also don’t have children, so the weight I carry around my midsection can’t be explained away by adorable future Forbes list babies (but probably has something to do with my adorable genetics and that adorable pizza I like to eat from time to time). Still, for Beyoncé, whose public image is about as close to perfection as one can get, to insert herself squarely into the heart of FUPA culture feels like an unexpected win, the kind I never knew I always wanted.