by N. Renee Brown
What is so cool about Lizzo?
Honestly? She’s as sweet as she is talented. She is as smart as she is kind. She is as driven as anyone I have ever seen. Let’s come to terms with the fact Lizzo might be closer to goddess than human, here people.
When she walked on-stage at SXSW in an amazing outfit, reminiscent of a Pantone Color Chart, with all the funk and style of a Fashion Week main stage, I knew we were in for an experience. I didn’t know we were getting an EXXXXXXPERIENCE. She was there repping her new show Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls (Amazon Prime), a reality TV show where we follow 10 big girls as they spend 20 days auditioning to become one of Lizzo’s dancers, known as Big Grrrls—but more than that Lizzo showed us just how deeply amazing she really is. How? Well, for me, it was all wrapped up in one factor: It was about the word fat…
“I got called fatass on the bus every morning.”
She went on to say, after the 500th time it had lost its sting and she began responding with, “Yeah? So?” Which, honestly, speaks more to her strength than any other story I can think of. She took that pain and, instead of internalizing it, she rejected it. That doesn’t mean she got over it, the end, happily ever after. No, far from it. Still, even TODAY when she is at the top of her game, people can say things that derail and hurt her and even make her doubt herself. She mentioned breaking down during filming her show because of something that was posted online about her. YET, she stood back up, got back to work, AND included that moment of weakness in an episode…because, as she says, “If you don’t see my tears, you’re not going to respect my joy.”
Lizzo has decided to reclaim the word fat. It holds no power over her and she hopes it can be the same for every fat person out there. Still, it isn’t that easy. She knows “fat” can be a trigger, but in her perfect world she hopes to create “a safe space where the sting from that word can be removed.” What would that space look like? Well, it starts with representation, which she’s already doing through both her music and now her reality series, but it doesn’t end there.
Even while she’s reclaimed the word fat, the people around her struggle. When she calls herself fat, people around her respond with “no, you’re beautiful”…as if you can’t be both. What a sly way of undermining acceptance, and reinforcing the fatphobia rampant in the world. And while some of us might smile and accept that correction (me included), the goddess in Lizzo makes her respond, “Fat AND beautiful!”
As a big grrrl myself, Lizzo’s story hits harder with me, she’s the kind of woman I wanted as a role model when I was growing up. She wears string bikinis. She posts photos of herself nude. She’s praising a body that most people hate. To see her strive to spread acceptance wide, instead of conforming like so many others have, is a breath of fresh air. To see her bringing others who look like her on this wild and successful ride is not only admirable but downright revolutionary.
I’m so thankful I live in a time where a big grrrl can find a way to be the glorious woman she is…without the word big always having to come first.