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FROM THE ARCHIVE: Beyoncè on Giving Birth to Blue Ivy and Her Post-Pregnancy Body

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In May 2012, PEOPLE named Beyoncè the World’s Most Beautiful Woman and put her on the cover of the magazine. Following her surprise announcement on Wednesday that she is pregnant with twins, here is the entire interview from that issue. 

Want to know where Beyoncé‘s heart lies?

Look no further than her fingers. As she’s curled up on a couch at an upstate New York estate on a recent Friday, the “Crazy in Love” singer’s nails – a funky, fierce shade of azure — are a not-so-subtle nod to what she’s really crazy about these days.

“I am obsessed with blue!” she says with a laugh, waving her fresh manicure to reveal a tiny gold “IV” on her right ring finger. “And I mean that in many ways.”

At 30, the 16-time Grammy winner and patron saint of single ladies everywhere is as focused — and busy — as ever: churning out No. 1 hits, building an impressive film résumé, directing her concert films and managing her own career. But she is totally, unapologetically smitten with her most important production to date: Blue Ivy Carter, born Jan. 7 to the superstar and her husband of four years, hip-hop mogul Jay-Z, 42.

“I just stare at her all day,” says Beyoncé, who has left her daughter at home today but checks in frequently via remote monitor. “She is my favorite thing in the world, and my No. 1 job is to protect her.”

Beyoncé — who has already dropped almost all of the 50 lbs. she gained while pregnant (and is seriously craving some pepperoni pizza) — took a break from prepping for her first post-baby concerts, Memorial Day weekend at the Revel Atlantic City, to get real with People’s Alexis Chiu about beauty, body and Blue Ivy.

How does it feel being named World’s Most Beautiful Woman?

It’s overwhelming! But it is such an honor. I feel more beautiful than I’ve ever felt, because I’ve given birth. I have never felt so connected and never felt like I had such a purpose on this earth.

How has your beauty routine changed since you had a baby?

My toes and my feet are a lot rougher since I’ve become a mom! Other than that, I try to take care of myself, drinking at least a gallon of water with lemon a day and making sure to take my vitamins.

How do you feel about yourself compared to when you were in your 20s?

I feel more confident. I have embraced my flaws. I’m like everyone else — I have days when I look in the mirror and I’m like, “Oh my God, I wish I could change this or that.” The more you mature, you realize that those imperfections make you more beautiful.

What’s one body part you’re loving right now?

I’m proud that my waist came back so fast.

What part of your body still drives you crazy?

I always have a hard time toning the backs of my shoulders — that’s what I have to work the hardest on.

When do you feel most beautiful?

When I’ve just gotten out of the shower. I’m clean and I have on nice lingerie and I’m getting in the bed — I feel really beautiful then. When [my makeup] is off and I can feel my skin.

Did you feel beautiful during your labor and delivery?

I didn’t feel that I looked beautiful during birth — but who does? After being pumped with all those fluids and gaining so much weight, with my swollen lips and cheeks, I barely recognized myself. I tried my best to roller-set my hair, and I wore my gloss when I arrived at the hospital. I committed to the end and wore my kitten heels. It makes me laugh thinking about it. But after many hours of labor, I didn’t care how I looked. It was all about the miracle that God gave me — the opportunity to deliver a human being.

How has your body changed since you gave birth?

I had to get my tone back. I’m definitely softer. But I feel my body bouncing back. Whatever was tight and muscular, like my legs, I’m seeing it come back. You just have to work at it.

Do you have makeup that’s so old you probably should have thrown it out?

I’m pretty good at throwing out the expired stuff, but I hold on to my mascara for a long time. I actually prefer old mascara. It makes your lashes thicker and longer.

Do you remember the first time you wore makeup?

I was playing in my mother’s makeup when I was about 6. I had blue eye shadow and red lips, and I put crazy blush on. I looked like a clown, but I thought I was so beautiful.

Are you more comfortable dressed down or glammed up?

I enjoy being a woman. I never thought there would be a day when I wouldn’t wear heels, but now that I have a child and I walk around holding her all day, I’m buying loafers and oxfords. I love them because they’re comfortable. And shorter heels too. I’d always thought, “The higher the heel, the sexier.” But now I’m like, “These are really sexy!”

How does your husband prefer you?

He loves when I wear flat shoes, which is surprising—he never saw me in flats [before]! He likes me more natural—just the relaxed, natural me.

Describe a perfect Sunday.

Spending time with my family. No work, not even a discussion about work; lunch at my favorite pizzeria; having a glass of red wine; and watching Game of Thrones.

If you look tired, what’s your go-to beauty trick?

Lip gloss — I love L’Oréal’s Infallible 8 HR Le Gloss in Coral Sands [she’s a brand spokeswoman] — and a little bit of blush.

What did you learn about hair from your mom owning a salon?

Everything. I like to experiment. I love playing around with highlights or bleaching the tips. I can cut and style my own hair. I recently cut two inches myself—I just parted it in the middle and chh-chh-chh.

You often do your own makeup for big events. Why?

I love to do my own makeup. I can’t do anyone else’s—I’ve never tried, actually. I know my face because I’ve sat in that makeup chair so many hours, like for 15 years—half of my life! I’m happy I have a daughter, because hopefully she’ll like makeup, though she probably won’t, right?

How do you feel about leaving the house without makeup?

Every day in my life is a part of my history, and I’ve worked really hard on my career and my life. So I make sure I wouldn’t be upset if somebody saw me. I’ve been mostly wearing my hair slicked back in a ponytail and no makeup, just sunglasses and lip gloss.

How did you deal with the rumors you wore a prosthetic belly and had a surrogate carry your baby?

That was crazy. It wasn’t hurtful. [I thought] “Where did they come up with this?”

There were also reports that your security and entourage disrupted the N.Y.C. hospital where you gave birth.

Oh, God, so crazy. Ridiculous.

Any other crazy rumors?

That I work out twice a day. Absolutely not: I’m a new mother; I don’t have time for that. And no, I don’t have a trainer living with me.

You’re a busy woman. What kind of role model do you want to be?

I want to show women that when you become a mother, it doesn’t mean you put everything away. You can be a mother and a seductress to your husband. You can be strong and nurturing to your child. You can be driven and emotionally generous. You can love yourself and your family. I want to continue to push myself, and I’m so excited to share all the things I’ve learned this past year with my fans on the stage again.

After your Memorial Day concerts, what’s next?

We start shooting [the Clint Eastwood-directed] A Star Is Born later this year. I always get nervous before I do a film. That feeling in my gut pushes me.

What’s always in your bag nowadays?

A pair of sunglasses, lip gloss, my fragrance. And a pacifier!

  • Interview and story by Alexis Chiu