To celebrate pop star Beyoncé's 36th birthday, former first lady Michelle Obama dressed up in what the singer donned in her "Formation" video — a Beyoncé song notoriously perceived as anti-police.
The photo shoot
Obama wasn't the only participant in the dress-up shoot: friends and colleagues of Beyoncé also donned the same outfit.
Some of those in the shoot included Beyoncé's 5-year-old daughter, Blue Ivy, former Destiny's Child members Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams, and tennis star Serena Williams.
Michelle Obama as Beyoncé in Formation extended my life expectancy and paid off my credit card bills 😍😍😍 pic.twitter.com/cKjVy7TwIw
— Alp Ozcelik (@alplicable) September 4, 2017
The controversy behind the song
Many conservative pundits believed Beyoncé's 2016 award-winning song and video for "Formation" to be controversial, as the underlying theme is black pride.
The pop star performed the song during the 2016 Super Bowl halftime show, where many of her backup dancers donned what appeared to be Black Panther-like costumes, and gave several nods to the Black Lives Matter movement and Malcolm X.
The video for "Formation" features a young black boy standing in front of a line of police with his hands raised up in the air and contains footage that many considered controversial as a result of its Hurricane Katrina-related theme.
Toward the end of the video, a New Orleans police car can be seen drowning in Katrina waters, which Vox called a "callback to Hurricane Katrina and systemic neglect and abuse of the black community in New Orleans."
In a 2016 interview with Fox News' "Fox & Friends," former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani expressed his displeasure at the song and video.
He said, "I thought it was really outrageous that she used it as a platform to attack police officers who are the people who protect her and protect us, and keep us alive."
"What we should be doing in the African-American community, and all communities," he continued, "is build up respect for police officers. And focus on the fact that when something does go wrong, OK. We'll work on that. But the vast majority of police officers risk their lives to keep us safe."
After the initial backlash, Beyoncé issued the following statement about "Formation":
I’m an artist, and I think the most powerful art is usually misunderstood. But anyone who perceives my message as anti-police is completely mistaken. I have so much admiration and respect for officers and the families of the officers who sacrifice themselves to keeps us safe.
She did, however, clarify that she is "against police brutality and injustice."