It’s easy to catch a glimpse of someone like Lizzo and see what you want to see.
For some, she’s a reflection of today’s #BodyPositivity movement with self-love and widespread acceptance, but only because they’ve failed to see her for what she really is: a tried and true artist with talent, determination, a thicker skin than most pop artists could even dream of, and over a decade of putting in the often isolating and back-breaking work to become an “overnight success.”
Casting Lizzo as merely the curvy black queen who will bring body positivity to the masses does her dirty because that has never been, and should never be, her defining characteristic.
Yes, for many, it’s revolutionary to see a thick black woman embrace her curves and declare that she loves herself, not in spite of her curves, but because of them. But in the same way that we harshly criticize the objectification of thin female celebrities when they are asked about their latest diet, fitness routine, or which designer they’re wearing, we should feel the same outrage when the focus of yet another Lizzo interview is on her body rather than her talent.
Lizzo’s latest Rolling Stone cover and accompanying interview is a sight to behold. A woman at the top of her game who has fought hard to reach the top of the charts and refuses to be neatly labeled as the #BodyPositive one because she knows she is so much more than that.
She plays the flute better than you ever knew was possible, thanks to her decades-long commitment to the instrument. She grew up in a self-proclaimed broken home, yet made her way to college. She lost her dad not long after dropping out of college and lived out of her car. She wrote song after song, including “Truth Hurts,” which originally flopped, and yet, here we are years later screaming her name, scrambling to get tickets to her shows in mere seconds before they sell out.
She doesn’t just speak to body dysmorphia and the damage it has caused her, she brings out full dance crews of curvy black women at her shows to prove anything skinny white girls can do, they can do better. She is openly sexual despite living in a society that has made a habit of shaming women into believing their pleasure should come secondary, if at all. She suffers from anxiety and still finds herself suffering from anxiety attacks mid-performance. And yet, she perseveres.
So stop identifying her as “brave” for embracing self-love at her size and start focusing on the timelessness of her songs, the sheer implausibility in today’s streaming music world of having a number one hit from a two-year-old track, her ability to twerk while simultaneously playing a flute, and her talent at writing pop songs with choruses and verses you actually enjoy getting stuck in your head.
Maybe if we started focusing on those things, you might understand the plethora of reasons she has to love herself that go so far beyond her appearance, a luxury so thoughtlessly afforded to men that Lizzo is now rightfully claiming for herself.
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Shannon Vize is a freelance writer and content strategist living in Brooklyn, NY. Her writing has been published by Elite Daily, Taylor Magazine, CIO, and Forbes. When she’s not hate-binging the latest episode of The Bachelor franchise, she’s busy trying to dismantle the patriarchy by dissecting the latest anti-feminist theme in pop culture to anyone who will listen.