Lizzo says ‘commercialized’ body-positive movement doesn’t serve ‘girls with back fat, girls with bellies that hang’

Kerry Justich
·5 mins read

Lizzo is known for using her voice, not just for her powerful singing, but also for speaking out about causes that she feels passionate about — whether the recent conversations about the Black Lives Matter movement or ongoing dialogue about body positivity. When it comes to the latter, however, the 32-year-old feels like the movement has taken a turn away from serving the people who need it most.

“It’s commercialized. Now, you look at the hashtag ‘body positive,’ and you see smaller-framed girls, curvier girls. Lotta white girls. And I feel no ways about that, because inclusivity is what my message is always about,” she told Vogue as the publication’s October cover star. “I’m glad that this conversation is being included in the mainstream narrative. What I don’t like is how the people that this term was created for are not benefiting from it. Girls with back fat, girls with bellies that hang, girls with thighs that aren’t separated, that overlap. Girls with stretch marks. You know, girls who are in the 18-plus club. They need to be benefiting from ... the mainstream effect of body positivity now. But with everything that goes mainstream, it gets changed. It gets — you know, it gets made acceptable.”

Evidence of the movement going mainstream can be seen on social media platforms like TikTok, where Lizzo herself posts videos about her workout routines and her health to combat the images of thin women who can make it seem like thinness somehow equates health. She explained that she’d like to consider her efforts as separate from what the body-positivity movement has become.

“I think it’s lazy for me to just say ‘I’m body positive’ at this point,” she said. “It’s easy. I would like to be body-normative. I want to normalize my body. And not just be like, ‘Ooh, look at this cool movement. Being fat is body-positive.’ No, being fat is normal. I think now, I owe it to the people who started this to not just stop here. We have to make people uncomfortable again, so that we can continue to change. Change is always uncomfortable, right?”

The Detroit native, who often sings about women’s and Black empowerment, is also looking for change in the country’s highest office. “Having a Black woman as vice president would be great,” she said of Democratic vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris, “because I’m just always rooting for Black people. But I want actual change to happen … in the laws. And not just on the outside, you know? Not a temporary fix to a deep-rooted, systemic issue. A lot of times I feel like we get distracted by the veneer of things. If things appear to be better, but they’re not actually better, we lose our sense of protest.”

When it comes to the deaths of Black women like Breonna Taylor and Sandra Bland, Lizzo also doesn’t fail to mention that there needs to be more conversation surrounding them. “We need to talk about the women.” And although the singer spoke to current protests as hope for the future, she explained that the fate of the country ultimately lies in the hands of voters.

“I just want to encourage people to register to vote. That is the most important thing to me,” she said. “Because there’s a lot of upset people, and there’s a lot of people who have power. There’s a lot of voter suppression in Black communities. But there’s a lot of angry white kids now. And I’m like, ‘Yo, register to vote. Go out. You won’t get suppressed if you try to go to your ballot box.’ You know? I think it’s important to remind people of what they can do. My job isn’t to tell you how to vote. But my job is hopefully to inspire you to vote … to activate you, so that you can take your protest to the ballot box.”

Ultimately, the way that Lizzo chooses to use her voice is directly tied to the impact she hopes to make.

“I think it’s important that I take full responsibility for the way the world perceives me because that is the way they’re gonna perceive someone who looks like me in the future. Maybe, hopefully, that would give some young girl someone to look up to and take away the opportunity for someone to weaponize her uniqueness against her,” she said. “I had to travel the world and I had to meet people and read DMs and look into their eyes and really hear their stories to believe that I was making an impact in a positive way. And now that I believe in myself in that way, I’m gonna continue to just push that conversation by being a better me every single day.”

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