Beyoncé does not take her influence lightly. As one of the most influential people in the world, she understands the impact her work can have on fans and is using this power for good. “Pretty Hurts,” the opening track from her 2013 album, is not just a ballad perfect for an emotional night of karaoke, but commentary on our obsession with perfection. The official video places Bey in a beauty pageant, where she and other contestants struggle to reach the unattainable goals pageant bosses, Harvey Keitel and society have set for them. VH1 has an exclusive look at the making of the video, including thoughts from Miss 3rd Ward herself. “I wanted to tap into the world of competition,” Beyoncé says. “Some of the things young women go through are just really heartbreaking for me.”
At the surface “Pretty Hurts” is a video about the machinations behind a traditional beauty contest, but director Melina Matsoukas — responsible for Rihanna‘s “We Found Love,” “Losing You” by Solange and many more — took a documentary-style approach in order to portray the struggle to find self-love. “I didn’t want to plan too many of the shots,” Matsoukas said. “We’d create new little vignettes to happen within each set-up, like the fight that happens and [Beyoncé] crying.” The director also reveals she was inspired by the throwback photo of a little B standing in front of a mantle filled with trophies, which is recreated in the video (with some liberties). Check out the full video below.
In addition to sharing these behind the scenes nuggets, Beyoncé is launching What Is Pretty, a social campaign asking fans to share what the word means to them. To join the Queen in her quest, upload photos and/or videos that capture what “pretty” means to you to Instagram and tag them with #whatispretty.
And for everything you need to know about Beyoncé’s latest album, check out our helpful guide below.