Lizzo has openly shared her life with her fans on social media over the years. Now she’s opening up even further to discuss what she believes is “part of the revolution” for Black women: twerking.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Lizzo knows her stuff when it comes to subject. The singer routinely posts twerking videos on her Instagram and Twitter, to high acclaim, but as she says in a new TED Talk about the history of the dance move, finding the confidence in herself wasn’t always easy.
"I used to hate my ass, believe it or not," she said. "I have my father's shape and my mother's thighs, so it's big, and long. I used to think that only asses like J.Lo's or Beyoncé's could be famous. I never thought that could happen to me."
In fact, Lizzo said that Beyoncé’s “Crazy In Love” video was “the first time” she’d ever seen a pop star give her “permission to be myself, to be bootylicious. [Beyoncé] can shake ass and still be seen as classy in the eyes of America. And that is hard to do.”
"I always felt like my body type wasn't the right one, or the desirable one growing up, because I grew up in an era where having a big ass wasn't mainstream,” she continued. “I grew up watching movies where women were like ‘Does my ass look fat in this?’ like it was a bad thing. I felt like the ass odds were against me. But baby, this bedonkedonk was going places.”
"My ass has been the topic of conversations, my ass has been in magazines, Rihanna gave my ass a standing ovation. Yes, my booty! My least favorite part of my body," she added. "How did this happen? Twerking. Through the movement of twerking, I realized that my ass is my greatest asset.”
“The better I got the more I fell in love with what I had because damn, my ass can do magic,” Lizzo, who first learned to twerk at a teen club in Houston, Texas, said. But after doing research into the dance’s origins, she says that now she wants to “add to the classical etymology of this dance, because it matters.”
“From TikTok trends to songs and humor, we see so much erasure of what Black people created so I want to do everything my power to prevent the erasure of Blackness from twerking,” which she explains is a “Black American communal collaboration born of Black Southern culture.”
More specifically, modern-day twerking “has a direct parallel to West African dances like Mapouka," she explained. "Black people carried the origins of this dance through our DNA, through our blood, through our bones. We made twerking the global cultural phenomenon it became today."
"Everything that Black people create, from fashion to music to the way we talk, is co-opted and appropriated by pop culture," said Lizzo, referencing Miley Cyrus’s 2013 VMAs twerk performance, a moment she said twerking “was misunderstood and [taken] out of context."
"For me, twerking ain't a trend. My body ain't a trend," she said. “I twerk because of my ancestors, for sexual liberation, for my bitches, hey girls. Because I can. Because I know I look good. I twerk because it's unique to the Black experience, it's unique to my culture, and it means something real to me."
"Black women invented twerking, and twerking is part of the revolution. We been doing it, we going to keep doing it, because we have and always will be the blueprint,” she continued. "I twerk because I'm talented. Because I'm sexual, but not to be sexualized. I twerk to own my power, to reclaim my Blackness, my culture. I twerk for fat, Black women because being fat and Black is a beautiful thing."