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Beyoncé, Ed Sheeran’s outfits fuel debate on standards for women—and memes

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It’s hard to stand next to Beyoncé and look anything less than inferior. But Ed Sheeran didn’t even try, and the internet is not pleased.

This week during the Global Citizens Festival in South Africa, the two pop stars staged a rendition of their duet “Perfect.” Beyoncé donned a glorious pink frock, and Ed Sheeran wore the T-shirt combo every high school boy bought from Target at some point in the 2000s.

Twitter quickly to pointed out the double standard of how men and women should look on stage, and, by extension, how that pressure determines what people wear in everyday life. While Beyoncé’s performance involved six outfit changes, Sheeran was allowed to walk on stage like … that.

The larger narrative on gender norms evaporated, though, as people realized that anyone standing next to the Beyoncé will likely pale in comparison—regardless of what they’re wearing. “That’s just what white people always look like standing next to Beyoncé,” one user wrote.

Meanwhile, the image took on a life of its own and became—of course—a meme. One Twitter user “fixed” the image, editing it so that Sheeran looked one iota as fabulous as Queen Bey.

Some related the image to other popular memes from this year, like the hot duck in Central Park and “me on Twitter vs. me on Instagram.”

Of course, the jokes only temporarily alleviate the pain of Sheeran’s ultimate sin: committing a fashion crime next to Beyoncé herself.

H/T Mashable

Alyse Stanley

Alyse Stanley

Alyse Stanley is a video game and culture reporter based in Virginia with words at Polygon and USGamer. When she’s not writing about memes, she edits Unwinnable’s monthly magazine. You can follow her on Twitter @pithyalyse.