Taking to the stage at the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 in Johannesburg, South Africa earlier this week, Queen Bey belted out the ballad while swathed in a huge ruffly fuchsia couture gown, next to the gingernut crooner, clad in an ultra casual tee-jeans-n-sneakers combo.
The social media reaction has unsurprisingly been swift and fierce, with many having a big ol’ LOL at the pair’s comically contrasting gettups:
every heterosexual couple’s level of effort pic.twitter.com/wvbbWthNXb
— Anthony Oliveira (@meakoopa) December 4, 2018
— Dave Hannan (@DrSausageThumb) December 4, 2018
Ed Sheeran is actually wearing a 3-piece custom tuxedo. That’s just what white people always look like standing next to Beyoncé. pic.twitter.com/YO2nyuNOSw
— Solomon Georgio (@solomongeorgio) December 4, 2018
However, it’s also sparked plenty of legitimate outrage about the standards society expects from men vs women when it comes to their appearance:
a pitch-perfect representation of a male vs female employee’s expected level of work for the same position pic.twitter.com/50kKmzx8vH
— Aparna Nancherla (@aparnapkin) December 4, 2018
This photo is v v v v representative of what we expect from men and women at the top of their game, isn't it? https://t.co/cfeLw8n1aI
— Daniel (@sillyolddaniel) December 4, 2018
Ed Sheeran is a 27 year old man the fact we’ve enabled him to feel it’s ok to dress like this at all, let alone next to Beyoncé really boils my piss pic.twitter.com/Q6XqgTFuvQ
— shon faye. (@shonfaye) December 4, 2018
Addressing the backlash, Sheerio has since reposted an article on his Instagram story entitled, “People Are Angry Ed Sheeran Wore a Shirt while Beyoncé Wore Couture During their Global Citizen Performance”.
“Swipe up to ‘get the look,” Ed wrote, adding the cheeky hashtag, #dresstoimpress.
While the number of cultural think-pieces on this topic continues to multiply, you can watch footage of the pair’s actual performance below.
When you're as talented as Ed or Bey, you can get away with any dresscode. Oh and you set the trend, you don't follow it. Ed Sheeran is comfortable dressing like a 40 year old virgin from 2003 and Beyonce is comfortable dressing like a 16 year old going for Prom. Deal with it! https://t.co/bNI5C9v1x3
— Talkative Rocker (@beewol) December 4, 2018
— Warner Music Canada (@WarnerCanada) December 4, 2018