What I Learned About Style From Destiny's Child's "Bootylicious"
The year is 2001, the pants are sitting far too low, Destiny's Child are still matchy-matchy, and yet Bey still crushed it with her foreshadowing of trends to come. Happy #FBF
If I ever feel like I need inspiration, I go straight to 2001. It was a time when Gwen Stefani and Eve were blowin’ minds, Blu Cantrell was on the rebound from Jay-Z, Jagged Edge called their album Jagged Little Thrill and Mary J. Blige was busy being life itself. But most importantly, the original momager (Kris Jenner’s got nothing on her), Tina Knowles, was busy dressing Destiny’s Child in matching costumes more fabulous than anything you could ever imagine. 2001 was the year of “Bootylicious”—when Beyoncé and the Destiny’s Children Band (which should have been their name, if we’re being real) took what was once used pejoratively by Snoop Dogg in “Fuck Wit Dre Day” to demean women, and made it something truly worthy of celebration for women and the LGBTQ community.
Thanks to this track, the term “bootylicious” was inducted into the Oxford English dictionary in 2004 with the definition “(Of a woman) sexually attractive,” which should only further serve as proof that Beyoncé really is very important. It was, after all, “Bootylicious” the song that brought the word into such mainstream use that justified making it official. Looking back, it’s not just the word that’s of such ongoing importance—the video can teach us a lot about style. Especially matching style. Here’s everything I learned about style from Destiny’s Child’s “Bootylicious.”
IF YOU’RE AS COOL AS STEVIE NICKS YOU CAN CRIMP LITTLE BITS OF YOUR HAIR AND STILL HAVE 80S BANGS IN 2001 AND IT WILL PLAY
If I had to guess, if you were as cool as Stevie Nicks, you could probably pull off this look in 2016 as easily as you pull off ripped jeans and a white t-shirt. Unfortunately, you’re not as cool as Stevie Nicks. Go get changed. (Also if you’re new, that “Bootylicious” riff is actually from “Edge of Seventeen,” hence the Nicks cameo).
BEYONCE WAS THE QUEEN OF EVERYTHING EVEN BEFORE YOU HAD THE SLIGHTEST NOTION THAT SHE WAS THE QUEEN OF EVERYTHING
Beyoncé knew she was the Queen of Everything long before she was actually the Queen of Everything. As it turns out, most of her solo career since Destiny’s Child has just been a way to pass the time while the rest of us dumbies figured out what she already knew. You can literally see it in her eyes, the way her mouth curls and how she holds herself next to the other women in “Bootylicious.” It’s like her precognition of things to come—her impending rule—is such a surety that she’s able to calmly, patiently, and ever so naturally play the part of an un-coronated Queen without any forced bravado. It’s breathtaking and terrifying to behold, and a testament to Beyoncé being a glorious personification of the sheer force of will.
BEYONCE WAS OMBRE BEFORE KYLIE JENNER WAS EATING SOLID FOODS
We can all ombre our hair in various shades of pink and think we’re being sah Kylie Jenner about it, but Beyoncé was dip dying her tresses when Kylie was just a tiny toddler, toddling around, not doing much of anything at all really. So if you’re looking for a picture to take to your hairdresser to point to and say “This, this is what I want,” here’s a screenshot, and you can throw away all those embarrassing images of a girl who’s probably a decade younger than you and makes her fortune selling overpriced poo-brown lipstick to hysterical teenagers. You’re welcome.
YOU’RE NOT AALIYAH. YOU WILL NEVER BE AALIYAH.
I don’t know what Tina was thinking when she dressed Michelle Williams almost exactly like Aaliyah in the “Try Again” video. Maybe she was trying to sabotage poor old Michelle, dressing her that way so people would immediately make the Aaliyah comparison, and find her to be lacking (I would not put it past Tina). It’s not Michelle’s fault though—everyone is lacking next to Aaliyah. The moral of the story is, never try to dress like Aaliyah. Especially if you’re already the weakest link in a girl band that includes Beyoncé.
TEAM DRESSING IS A LOST ART FORM
The lost art of same-same-but-different dressing is one of the greatest tragedies of modern pop. Destiny’s Child wrote the book on the matching-but-not-quite outfits that made every group of 15-year-old girlfriends co-ordinate their high school formal outfit color scheme in the early 2000s. “Bootylicious” goes hard on the matching outfits (rivaled only by “Survivor”), from the yellow disco-fab getups of the montage scenes to the hot pink Vegas-residency numbers in the dance scenes and the rodeo-glam blue tassled ensembles that really reinforce the “one of these things is not like the other” attitude to Michelle. If we could only find a way to bring this back to music videos, then we’d be cooking with gas.
GET YOUR MAN TO WEAR YOUR NAME ON HIS BUTT
Rappers are always talking about women “wearing their chain” (looking at you, Hov), but “Bootylicious” in a brilliant game of one upmanship, has the boys wearing the girls’ name on their panties. EMPOWERMENT, am I right?
I don’t know what the exact lesson is here, because he has such a complicated legacy, but I think that it’s that the cultural influence of Michael Jackson on modern pop is something so profoundly pervasive it doesn’t matter what he did or what you think he did, for better or worse he is intrinsically part of an incalculable measure of music sound and visual. Even at her Superbowl performance this year, Beyoncé paid homage to the King of Pop in her costuming. Meanwhile, “Bootylicious” has choreography taken from Jackson’s “Billie Jean” on Motown 25, moves from the “Thriller,” “Beat It,” “Bad,” and “The Way You Make Me Feel” videos. And of course, Jackson style hats and gloves in their matching outfits, just to make sure you didn’t miss the reference.
EVERYONE IS BOOTYLICIOUS
Despite Beyoncé radiating perfection and Kelly Rowland and Michelle reflecting her perfection, “Bootylicious” is one of those hyper-inclusive anthems that was taken up as a warcry, an early precursor to “I woke up like this.” The video includes women of all shapes, sizes and colors, as well as men that don’t fit traditionally masculine video roles (lanky, short and otherwise “effeminate”) without any disclaimer except that these non-conformist body types and bold personalities are to be loved, celebrated and revered. If there’s anything you can take away from the “Bootylicious” video it’s that everyone is beautiful, and if you can rock it, no matter what “it” is, you can be bootylicious too.
Kat George is bootylicious and so are you. She’s on Twitter. Just like. Probably.