I first heard Lizzo in 2013—I kept hearing her song “Let ‘Em Say” on the radio—but it wasn’t until the 2016 release of her EP Coconut Oil that I fell in love with her music, with its lyrics like “I remember back, back in school when I wasn’t cool/Shit, I still ain’t cool, but you better make some room for me.” I was a big, tall girl and I remember being laughed out of the classroom for daring to wear a shirt with the word “ROCKSTAR” across the front. Today, I proudly rock crop tops that say “Big Belly Energy.” I’m still the same girl, but I’ve found my place, like Lizzo.
Fast-forward to 2018 and my girl had a year—she released two songs (“Fitness” and “Boys”), toured with both Haim and Florence and the Machine, and showed off her impressive flute skills. (There has been no better social media challenge to date than the #fluteandshoot. Don’t @ me.)
Her social media bid to play Ursula the Sea Witch in the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid went a little bit viral (for good reason; watch her Instagram post and try to tell me there could be any better version of Ursula in 2019). She was a guest judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Though she’s long celebrated the queer community, this year she let it be known that she doesn’t “ascribe to just one thing” when it comes to gender and sexuality. And did I mention “Boys” was recently named the #10 best song of the year by Time?
But she doesn’t just serve up amazing vocals, empowering lyrics and joyful melodies—the accompanying visuals are just as mood-boosting and self-affirming. Lizzo’s unabashed celebration of her body and, more importantly, sexuality is something I only saw from supermodels and petite pop stars growing up—us big girls weren’t considered sexual beings, much less sexy.
But she’s not just the body-positive icon I need rn. She’s also a much-needed voice in the community itself. I’ve been able to see myself in the growing bo-po scene, but that’s not the case for everyone. There’s a serious lack of representation of BIPOC folks in this movement, which makes Lizzo’s presence all the more powerful. As Sirin Kale wrote in The Guardian, “As a plus-size woman of colour, Lizzo’s success is a respite in an often grimly misogynistic music industry.” In May, she played Radio City Music Hall and posted on Instagram: “… showing my back fat and rolls on stage is another moment I thought I’d never see. My biggest insecurities are becoming my biggest triumphs.”
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Wow. I never would’ve in a million years imagined that I’d be playing radio city music hall. But also, showing my back fat and rolls on stage is another moment I thought I’d never see. My biggest insecurities are becoming my biggest triumphs. Night 2… let’s go!
That’s another thing about Lizzo: She’s honest about the work she’s had to put into unlearning society’s conditioning to feel less-than. “I can’t wake up one day and not be Black. I can’t wake up one day and not be a woman. I can’t wake up one day and not be fat,” she told Teen Vogue. “I always had those three things against me in this world, and because I fight for myself, I have to fight for everyone else.” She’s upfront about her emotions on the bad days, too. “I have to fake it until I make it. You just have to gas yourself up. It takes a lot of work… I had to show my belly a lot of attention, a lot of love,” she said in an interview with the New York Times.
If you ever need lessons on self-love, head to her Insta feed and read every caption and watch every video you can find. Whether she’s singing a queer-friendly version of “The Boy Is Mine” live with Haim or playing the flute in a Sailor Moon costume, she glows with confidence and exudes ferocity. And seeing her dance around in lingerie and fiercely pose nude in her videos makes a plus-size girl like me feel inspired AF. My only real new year’s resolution is to finally see her live.
Lizzo’s next album is coming in early 2019 and if this year was any indicator, she is about to take over the world. (Her current Twitter bio sums it up: “America’s Next Top Bop Star.”) You better make some room for her.