Prior to the release of Vogue‘s 2018 September issue, HuffPost reported that the magazine had handed creative control to its cover star, Beyoncé — an “unprecedented” move in the publication’s history. While editor-in-chief Anna Wintour usually controls every page of the magazine, Beyoncé had creative freedom — which she used to hire up-and-coming 23-year-old photographer Tyler Mitchell, the first Black photographer to shoot the cover — and penned a number of essays shedding light on her life in a way the usually private star keeps to herself.

Discussing everything from her relationship to her pregnancies, the singer wrote that learning to let go of society’s beauty ideals helped redefine the love she has for her body. In the essay “Pregnancy & Body Acceptance,” she revealed that not only was her pregnancy with twins Rumi and Sir physically and emotionally taxing, but the effect it had on her body has been lasting — and life-changing.

“I was 218 pounds the day I gave birth to Rumi and Sir,” she wrote. “I was swollen from toxemia and had been on bed rest for over a month. My health and my babies’ health were in danger, so I had an emergency C-section. We spent many weeks in the NICU.” The medical issues she faced changed the way she saw her postpartum body.

“To this day my arms, shoulders, breasts, and thighs are fuller. I have a little mommy pouch, and I’m in no rush to get rid of it,” she shared. “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.”

The star didn’t go into the specifics of her relationship with husband JAY-Z, but she did say that digging into her own family history made her want to break the negative cycles that previous generations faced with their own relationships.

“I come from a lineage of broken male-female relationships, abuse of power, and mistrust. Only when I saw that clearly was I able to resolve those conflicts in my own relationship. Connecting to the past and knowing our history makes us both bruised and beautiful,” she wrote in the essay “Ancestry.” In the same piece, she also talked about recently learning that her family history includes a slave owner falling in love with and subsequently marrying a slave, and processing that revelation in her current life.

With stories about her now-historic Coachella performance, her current tour with her husband, and the legacy she hopes to leave behind, the star’s candid essays are filled with empowering messages. Her goal, she said, is to allow her daughters to see themselves reflected in popular culture and to ensure that her son has the emotional intelligence to help him become a gentler, more open man.

“I am accepting of who I am,” she wrote. “I want to learn more, teach more, and live in full.”

Will you pick up a copy of Vogue’s September Issue? Let us know @BritandCo!

(photo via Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NARAS)