The trailblazing body-positive singer is full of wisdom on the subjects that matter the most.
Let’s just dub 2019 the year of Lizzo and be done with it.
The singer, rapper, flautist (and twerker extraordinaire) has released her third album Cuz I Love You to rapturous critical acclaim, stormed the Coachella stage with a rousing set featuring a guest appearance by Janelle Monae and become one of the most important people to follow on Instagram.
It’s there that Lizzo does what Lizzo does best: remind everyone that loving yourself should never be a radical act, but a decision born out of necessity. We are only in this world for one life. Why do you want to spend your time here hating yourself?
Lizzo on “coming to terms with body dysmorphia”
Gracing the cover of Rolling Stone, Lizzo radiates confidence.
However, she hasn’t always felt so comfortable in her own skin, the singer revealed in an interview with the magazine.
Her late teens and early twenties were marred by low self-esteem, she explained, worsened by a toxic lover’s desire for a thin girlfriend when she was just 19. “I remember he was like, ‘I’m a little guy. I need a little girl’,” she said. She even found herself trying to emulate Zooey Deschanel. Now, saying: “I can’t just wake up and be a white girl”. When that relationship ended, she started to ask herself: “How can you be in love with someone when you’re not even you?”
This is what her track My Skin is about, reflecting on years of work she has done to unlearn the ways society told her to hate herself. “I’ve come to terms with body dysmorphia and evolved,” she explains. “The body-positive movement is doing the same thing. We’re growing together, and it’s growing pains, but I’m just glad that I’m attached to something so organic and alive”.
Understandably though, Lizzo is adamant she doesn’t want to be seen as “brave” for her body. Rather, she wants to be celebrated for her music. “I’m so much more than that. Because I actually present that, I have a whole career. It’s not a trend.”
Lizzo on standing up for yourself and backing your own success
While it’s not the first time a man has tried to downplay – and yes, mansplain – a woman’s remarkable success, Lizzo proved, once again, this doesn’t mean we need to take it.
The singer responded by retweeting his comments, while clarifying, in no uncertain terms, the real reasons for her viral popularity: hard bloody work.
“I’m popular because I write good songs and I’m talented and perform high energy hour and a half shows filled with love. The only person who needs to do better is you,” the singer wrote.
“Keep my name out ya mouth & look in the mirror before you come for me. Here’s the attention you ordered.”
The singer and body positivity activist has previously spoken out about the “psychological toll” of growing up and not seeing women and girls who looked like her in the media.
We all know how hard it can be to stand up to bullies but seeing Lizzo continue to do so is nothing short of inspiring. No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
Lizzo on body confidence and self-love – even in the face of adversity
The singer revealed a barrage of hate and criticism after she attended a Lakers game wearing a thong-dress – but she wasn’t having any of it.
Taking to Instagram stories after the comments about her outfit had circulated the internet, she reminded her fans that she’s happy as she is – and that hard situations can always be worked around.
“Who I am, and the essence of me, and the things that I choose to do as a grown-ass woman, can inspire you to do the same. They don’t have to be like me – you need to be like you, and never ever let somebody stop you or shame you from being yourself,” she said. “This is who I’ve always been – now everyone’s looking at it, and your criticism can just remain your criticism.”
She continued: “Your criticism has no effect on me, negative criticism has no stake in my life, no control over my life, over my emotions – I’m the happiest I’ve been, I’m surrounded by love and I just want to spread that love, and also spread these cheeks! And you know what? If you really, really don’t like my ass, you can kiss it. ‘Cause kissing it makes it go away, I promise.”
Posting on her Instagram later on in the day, she added: “I’m blessed, and I want you to know that you’re blessed,” she explained. “I want you to know that you woke up this morning, and that’s a blessing, I want you to know the sun is shining somewhere, that’s a blessing, and even if it’s raining, it’s cleansing you – it’s a blessing. I want you to know that whatever you’re going through, if it doesn’t feel good, that you will feel good again, and you have whatever it takes to feel good again.
“You are capable. You deserve to feel good as hell, and you deserve to find that. And as proud as you are of me, I’m proud of you. I’m really proud of you – because life comes at you fast, and sometimes it can be so hard, but if I can make it, I know you can make it. We can make it together.”
Lizzo on never giving up – and why it matters
The singer was one of the most-nominated artists at the 2019 American Music Awards this year – but, as she reminded her 1.2 million Twitter followers, she wasn’t always riding this wave of success.
She tweeted: “Eight years of touring, giving out free tickets to my undersold shows, sleepless nights in my car, losing my dad and giving up on music, playing shows for free beer and food w/ -32$ in my bank account, constantly writing songs, hearing ‘no’ but always saying ‘yes’.
She added: “Glad I never gave up.”
Lizzo on how to clapback to fat-shamers in the most inspiring way
The singer appeared on Jimmy Kimmel this week as one of the celebrities drafted in for the talk show host’s regular ‘Mean Tweets’ segment. It’s Lizzo’s ‘Mean Tweets’ debut, and she didn’t disappoint. Check out the video below:
“Bus passes and Happy Meals,” the mean tweet about Lizzo read. “Two things that I imagine Lizzo has seen a lot of.”
Lizzo paused, looked directly down the lens of the camera, and quipped: “Yeah I’m a big bitch and I ride a bus.”
“A tour bus,” she clarified. “Where’s yours?”
Lizzo, we are not worthy.
Lizzo on why loving yourself is always going to be a work in progress
Speaking to CBS, Lizzo revealed that her ‘overnight success’ has actually been “the slowest build of all time”. “It’s the slowest burn,” she said. “I’ve done so many tours, but nobody knows who I am until this year. But would I have been able to maintain this type of mainstream success 10 years ago? Hell to the nah! I needed this 10 years. I feel like a master.”
In those 10 years, Lizzo has also been working on her self-esteem and on loving herself. It’s why, before every show she does, she guides the audience through a positive mantra. “You are beautiful,” Lizzo tells her crowds. “You can do anything.”
“It works,” she explained to CBS. “It works. Because talking bad to yourself works. It’s the antidote to, ‘So stupid’. It’s like, ‘No, you deserve this. You’re intelligent’. Words are so powerful.”
She continued: “It’s like a little mosquito bite. Somebody’s like, ‘Well, you know, you a big girl, so you can never have short hair. You always have to have a big hair, ‘cause you’re a big girl.’ And they say that lovingly, but I’m like, that’s a little mosquito bite. You don’t even know it’s there. But soon, you look up, you’re covered in mosquito bites. And you’re like, ‘Oh my God, I have all of these things’. But they were so normalised to me because they were so innocent.”
The process of learning to love herself, then, was a process that took a long period of time. “They meant well,” Lizzo said. “But I had to, like, peel back a lot of layers.”
Lizzo on why everyone deserves to feel “good as hell”
“Let me talk to y’all for a second,” Lizzo said during her rousing performance at the 2019 MTV VMAs. “I’m tired of the bullshit. And I don’t have to know your story to know that you’re tired of the bullshit too. It’s so hard trying to love yourself in a world that doesn’t love you back, am I right?”
“So I want to take this opportunity right now to just feel good as hell. Because you deserve to feel good as hell. So tell me how you’re feeling?” - 2019 MTV VMAs
Lizzo on making 2019 the year you accept yourself
At the end of July, Lizzo went into the NPR offices to perform a short set as part of their ‘Tiny Desk Concert’ franchise. The concept is simple: artists come into the NPR building and, surrounded by office paraphernalia, sing acoustic versions of a few of their most beloved hits. Unsurprisingly, Lizzo killed it, and after belting out Cuz I Love You, Truth Hurts and Juice, she ended with an empowering message for everyone who had packed into the small office to watch her perform.
“This is really really special. I want to thank the band for killing it. I want to thank the team for making me look so cute. I want to thank all of you here at NPR for coming out, I heard this is one of the biggest crowds they’ve ever had. And you came out for big ass old me. I just want everyone to remember if you can love me. You can love yourself. Every single day. If you can love my big black ass at this tiny, tiny little desk, you can love yourself.” – NPR
Lizzo on why she takes naked pictures
“I’m doing this for myself. I love creating shapes with my body, and I love normalizing the dimples in my butt or the lumps in my thighs or my back fat or my stretch marks. I love normalising my black-ass elbows. I think it’s beautiful.” – Essence
Lizzo on being a sex symbol
“I didn’t have enough women to look up to and they weren’t given enough space in the industry to carve out a lane for big girls that are brown and black and want to sing and dance without getting shit talked and body shamed. I’m out here and I set my mind to it. I want to be a sex symbol and music goddess and I’m out here trying to make that happen for myself. I’m here for the fantasy but I want to be a part of that fantasy. I’m just as fine as those girls.” – Vogue
Lizzo on loving yourself
“I don’t think that loving yourself is a choice. I think that it’s a decision that has to be made for survival; it was in my case. Loving myself was the result of answering two things: Do you want to live? ‘Cause this is who you’re gonna be for the rest of your life. Or are you gonna just have a life of emptiness, self-hatred and self-loathing? And I chose to live, so I had to accept myself.” – NBC News
Lizzo on body positivity
“It’s not a label I wanted to put on myself. It’s just my existence. All these fucking hashtags to convince people that the way you look is fine. Isn’t that fucking crazy? I say I love myself, and they’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, she’s so brave. She’s so political.’ For what? All I said is ‘I love myself, bitch!’ Even when body positivity is over, it’s not like I’m going to be a thin white woman. I’m going to be black and fat. That’s just hopping on a trend and expecting people to blindly love themselves. That’s fake love. I’m trying to figure out how to actually live it.” – The Cut
Lizzo on being a trailblazer
“The body-positive movement is the body-positive movement, and we high five. We’re parallel. But my movement is my movement. When all the dust has settled on the groundbreaking-ness, I’m going to still be doing this. I’m not going to suddenly change. I’m going to still be telling my life story through music. And if that’s body-positive to you, amen. That’s feminist to you, amen. If that’s pro-black to you, amen. Because ma’am, I’m all of those things.” – Allure
Lizzo on accepting yourself
“I think I was, like 21, because that was the worst year of my life thus far: My father passed away, I was homeless, I didn’t have any money, my band was doing really badly and I was by myself. I hadn’t been eating because I didn’t have money, and I was honestly the smallest physically I’d ever been — and still, that was the worst I’d ever felt about myself. And I remember one day being like, ‘This is it.’ Twenty-some-odd years of me believing that one day I can wake up and be some other girl. It’s like, you’re not gonna wake up and be bigger or smaller or lighter or darker; your hair’s not gonna suddenly grow down past your knees. You’re going to look this way for the rest of your life. And you have to be OK with that.” – NPR
Lizzo on self care
“Self care is in the little moments — bathing, sweating, washing your hair.. it’s in laughing so hard you can barely catch a breath, your lungs expanding on a morning jog… now more than ever we need to enjoy the quiet within ourselves.” – Instagram
Lizzo on vulnerabilities
“But I finally realised that owning up to your vulnerabilities is a form of strength, and making the choice to go to therapy is a form of strength. It took years for me to get to that point, but I did it last year for my friends and my family. I didn’t really do it for myself at first, but because I realised what my emotional condition was doing to my relationships. And I wanted to be a better sister and a better daughter, a better boss and a better friend.” – NBC
Lizzo on how to love yourself
“It’s unfair for us to assume that people know how to love themselves … [corporations have] spent decades telling people they weren’t good enough and selling them an ideal of beauty. All of a sudden you’re selling them self-love? People don’t know how to love themselves, because they were trying to look like the motherfucker you were selling them!” – Guardian
Lizzo on who she wants to speak for
“My movement is for everybody. My movement celebrates diversity. It’s all about inclusion. It’s all about getting our flowers and giving each person their own space to be an individual and speak up for that individuality.” – Junkee
Lizzo on how health isn’t about a specific dress size
“I want people to realise that fitness doesn’t have a look or an aesthetic or a weight. Fitness is a very personal thing that’s between you and your doctor. To have a big black girl singing about how she’s working on the calisthenics – because mind you, I be in the gym everyday, but people don’t believe that because I got extra fat and rolls and a big butt – I think that it’s empowering for young girls, to see that it’s okay to work out and not have a six-pack.” – Billboard
Lizzo on staying true to herself
“When I have to make decisions, I always choose honesty and I always stay true to myself, because I know at the end of the day that is what’s going to remain. That is what’s going to be the legend: That I was true to myself and that I honored every person by staying truthful to them.” – Rolling Stone
Images: Luke Gilford, Getty
philosophy is the wellbeing beauty brand inspiring you to look, live and feel your best, and is the official partner of Stylist’s Remarkable Women Awards 2020.
Hannah-Rose Yee is a writer based in London. You can find her on the internet talking about movies, television and Chris Pine.
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