The more immediate impact is individuals controlling what they can—like leaving their jobs. Portia, 42, has been considering resigning from her corporate job for a while now. Like the lyrics in the song, she’s newly in love and her partner has encouraged her to explore what work she could do outside of her job. The song, she says, moved her “to really look at what’s holding me back, and how I can keep my soul happy.” Before, quitting was a bit of a daydream. But after hearing the song, she thought, “I might actually quit and invest in me.”
This is what experts call “The Beyoncé Effect.” Literally—Professor Adrienne Trier-Bieniek, editor of the 2016 book The Beyoncé Effect: Essays on Sexuality, Race and Feminism weighed in on why messaging from Beyoncé hits harder than messaging from any other famous person. Beyoncé is super smart and savvy, and she’s tapping into the reality that people are rethinking their lives after living through years of Covid, Trier-Bieniek argues. “She’s saying, ‘It’s okay if you feel this way, you’re entitled to these feelings.’ That’s what makes her a powerful performer—she really does tell people, especially Black women, ‘You are wonderful the way you are, you don’t need to change that.’” Trier-Bieniek cites Toi Derricotte, a Black woman poet who is often associated with Beyoncé through a line in Derricotte’s work: “Joy is an act of resistance.”
That’s exactly what Jahelis, a 28-year-old who quit her job one day before “Break My Soul” came out: validation. She felt underpaid and poorly treated, but after quitting she started panicking. Then she heard the song.
“Do you understand how insane it feels to have Beyoncé herself affirming your life decisions?” she tells Glamour. “Adulthood is terrifying, and I thought by this age I would have more answers to life, that I would know what I was doing by now. And I don’t. Every moment of every day is just spent questioning myself and my choices and asking if I’m doing the right thing with no response. Well: not this time.”
Jenny Singer is a staff writer for Glamour. You can follow her on Twitter.