Beyoncé has opened up about body image in a rare intimate interview, telling of the pressure she felt to lose the baby weight after the birth of her first child.

The superstar appears on the front cover of Vogue magazine's September issue, where she addresses a wide range of topics, including her pregnancies with Blue Ivy and twins Sir and Rumi; body acceptance; race;  ancestry; creativity and her legacy.

The singer, who is famously reticent about giving interviews, spoke to Clover Hope for the magazine, where she revealed the lengths she went to in order to lose weight after the birth of her and husband Jay-Z's first child Blue Ivy in 2012.

She said: "After the birth of my first child, I believed in the things society said about how my body should look.

"I put pressure on myself to lose all the baby weight in three months, and scheduled a small tour to assure I would do it.

"Looking back, that was crazy. I was still breastfeeding when I performed the Revel shows in Atlantic City in 2012."

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The artist said she "approached things very differently" following the birth of her twins last year and revealed that they were delivered by emergency C-section.

"I was 218 pounds the day I gave birth to Rumi and Sir," she said. "I was swollen from toxemia and had been on bed rest for over a month. My health and my babies' health were in danger, so I had an emergency C-section. We spent many weeks in the NICU.

"My husband was a soldier and such a strong support system for me. I am proud to have been a witness to his strength and evolution as a man, a best friend, and a father."

Beyoncé said of her newfound body acceptance: "During my recovery, I gave myself self-love and self-care, and I embraced being curvier. I accepted what my body wanted to be. After six months, I started preparing for Coachella [music festival]. I became vegan temporarily, gave up coffee, alcohol, and all fruit drinks. But I was patient with myself and enjoyed my fuller curves. My kids and husband did, too.

"To this day my arms, shoulders, breasts, and thighs are fuller. I have a little mommy pouch, and I'm in no rush to get rid of it. I think it's real. Whenever I'm ready to get a six-pack, I will go into beast zone and work my ass off until I have it."

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The 36-year-old also revealed that she recently researched her lineage and discovered that she is descended from a slave owner, which she said informed her understanding of her relationship with Jay-Z.

She said: "I come from a lineage of broken male-female relationships, abuse of power, and mistrust. Only when I saw that clearly was I able to resolve those conflicts in my own relationship. 

"I researched my ancestry recently and learned that I come from a slave owner who fell in love with and married a slave. I had to process that revelation over time. I questioned what it meant and tried to put it into perspective.

"I pray that I am able to break the generational curses in my family and that my children will have less complicated lives."

The accompanying images are by 23-year-old photographer Tyler Mitchell - the first African-American to shoot a Vogue cover.