For Beyoncé, navigating the music industry has meant setting clear boundaries.

The Lemonade singer is on the new cover of Harper’s Bazaar, and in the issue she opens up about how she protects her inner self from the world of celebrity culture.

“Throughout my career, I’ve been intentional about setting boundaries between my stage persona and my personal life,” she says. “My family and friends often forget the side of me that is the beast in stilettos until they are watching me perform. It can be easy to lose yourself very quickly in this industry. It takes your spirit and light, then spits you out. I’ve seen it countless times, not only with celebrities but also producers, directors, executives, etc. It’s not for everyone.”

Beyoncé continues, “Before I started, I decided that I’d only pursue this career if my self-worth was dependent on more than celebrity success. I’ve surrounded myself with honest people who I admire, who have their own lives and dreams and are not dependent on me. People I can grow and learn from and vice versa.”

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Beyoncé – Photo: Campbell Addy for Harper’s Bazaar
Beyoncé – Photo: Campbell Addy for Harper’s Bazaar

The 39-year-old superstar also talks about the women who have inspired her over the years.

“My closest friends are brilliant women who run companies, are entrepreneurs, mothers, wives, and close family. Kelly [Rowland] and Michelle [Williams] are still my best friends. I gravitate toward strong, grounded women like my incredible sister, Solange. She is full of wisdom, and she is the dopest person I know,” she says.

“I watched my mother nurture and heal those women in her salon, not just by making them look and feel beautiful but by talking with them, listening to them, and connecting with them. I’ve seen how much Black women’s emotions are attached to our hair and beauty.”

Beyoncé – Photo: Campbell Addy for Harper’s Bazaar
Beyoncé – Photo: Campbell Addy for Harper’s Bazaar

On taking care of herself, the singer admits, “I think, like many women, I have felt the pressure of being the backbone of my family and my company and didn’t realize how much that takes a toll on my mental and physical well-being. I have not always made myself a priority. I’ve personally struggled with insomnia from touring for more than half of my life.

“In the past, I spent too much time on diets, with the misconception that self-care meant exercising and being overly conscious of my body,” she says. “My health, the way I feel when I wake up in the morning, my peace of mind, the number of times I smile, what I’m feeding my mind and my body—those are the things that I’ve been focusing on. Mental health is self-care too. I’m learning to break the cycle of poor health and neglect, focusing my energy on my body and taking note of the subtle signs that it gives me. Your body tells you everything you need to know, but I’ve had to learn to listen.”

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Beyoncé – Photo: Campbell Addy for Harper’s Bazaar
Beyoncé – Photo: Campbell Addy for Harper’s Bazaar

Beyoncé is also looking ahead to the next decade of her life and career.

“My wish is for my 40s to be fun and full of freedom,” she says. “I want to feel the same freedom I feel on stage every day of my life. I want to explore aspects of myself I haven’t had time to discover and to enjoy my husband and my children. I want to travel without working. I want this next decade to be about celebration, joy, and giving and receiving love. I want to give all the love I have to the people who love me back.”

Finally, Beyoncé adds, “I want to show that you can have fun and have purpose, be respectful and speak your mind. You can be both elegant and a provocateur. You can be curvy and still be a fashion icon. I wish this freedom for every person. I have paid my dues and followed every rule for decades, so now I can break the rules that need to be broken. My wish for the future is to continue to do everything everyone thinks I can’t do.”

The September “Icons” issue of Harper’s Bazaar hits newsstands August 31.