Big GRRRL Small World – Artist Lizzo Preaching Body Positivity & Reclaiming Sexuality

By Chelsy Ranard

The first time I saw Lizzo was at Treefort Music Fest in Boise, Idaho. I hadn’t ever heard of her; and once I saw her live I knew I had been missing out. Everything about Lizzo is larger than life. Her music, her style, her voice, her message, her aura. That girl is a powerhouse, and on a rainy day in Boise while I watched her singing and dancing next to the other dynamic women on stage, I felt like a powerhouse too.

The second time I saw her was a few months ago in November of 2017 on her “Hot as Hell” tour. She came back to Boise and tore The Knitting Factory to the ground. I stared at her and her dancers in disbelief while screaming her songs as loud as I could. I felt her message, I felt her passion, and I felt a change in myself after seeing her. Lizzo is not only an amazing artist, she’s a voice for body positivity, self-love, and women reclaiming their own sexuality. If you don’t know Lizzo, you need to.

A Look at the Music

Lizzo, or Melissa Jefferson, was born in Detroit, Michigan; grew up in Houston, Texas and moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2011. Her debut album titled ‘Lizzobangers’ was released in 2013 followed by ‘Big Grrrl Small World’ in 2015, and ‘Coconut Oil’ in 2016. ‘Coconut Oil’ was her first major-label EP produced by Ricky Reed. Before going solo she was a part of a few groups including Lizzo & the Larva Ink, The Chalice, Grrrl Prty, The Clerb, Ellypseas, and Absynthe.

At age 29, she’s seen a lot of regional success in hip hop for years. She can rap, she can sing, and she has hit some amazing successes in her career. She’s recorded with Prince, had her first album produced by Lazerbeak, and recently sang her hit song “Good as Hell” on the back of a jetski with Ashley Graham in a video for Swimsuits for All, just to name a few aspects of her success. In 2013, TIME magazine named her as one of 14 artists to watch for the next year. Lizzo has never been afraid to explore many different sides of the music she loves from dance music to beautiful ballads to soulful rap singles. Her music exemplifies who she is and what she believes in.

A Voice for Body Positivity

“Good as Hell” is a song all about understanding your worth, even if a man doesn’t. “Scuse Me” is about loving what you see in the mirror. As a woman who has felt bad about her body, her skin color, and her worth as a result, Lizzo focuses on making music that will speak to all women via her own experiences. Other than having human moments of doubt like all of us, Lizzo has transformed into a beacon of confidence, loving her body and recognizing her status as a queen. While she performs next to her DJ Sophia Eris and her dancers, the Big Girls, in an array of amazing outfits showing off her curves, her own confidence emanates to her crowd.

Body image issues are rampant in today’s society where we have set an unrealistic expectation for what people should look like. In a world where there aren’t many plus sized, black, confident women able to sing about feeling beautiful to the masses, Lizzo is making a statement just by being herself. Her social media is just as unapologetically confident as she showcases her flawless self. Lizzo leads by example and urges her listeners to feel as beautiful about themselves as she does about herself. For a woman who didn’t find herself in many other artists growing up, she took it upon herself to be that for others.

The Importance of Self-Love

In the middle of her show, while I was feelin’ myself, Lizzo took a break to give her crowd a lesson about self-love. She told us that she’s had issues relating her happiness to how others thought about her. She explained how important it was to love yourself, to accept who you are and own it, and that your happiness is so important. She told us that we needed to practice self-care and take time for it.

She told us we were enough, and that we were survivors. She then played the song that named her EP: “Coconut Oil.” This song is a metaphor for her feelings on self-love. “I thought I needed to run and find somebody to love, but all I needed was some coconut oil.” According to Lizzo, coconut oil represented self-care and in her song, she expresses feeling like she needed someone, but she really needed to practice self-care.

A branch from Lizzo’s body positive message is her message of self-love in her music and to her listeners. In the U.S., about 40 million adults live with anxiety which is commonly diagnosed alongside other mental health disorders like bipolar or depression. At least 30 million people suffer from an eating disorder in the United States. One of the common reasons for drug and alcohol abuse is to cope with mental health issues like depression.

Suicide is still the leading cause of death for those aged 15 to 24. This self-love and self-care message from Lizzo is not insignificant, it is positive messages like hers that make a difference where it’s needed. For marginalized groups in need of more positivity and empowering influences, Lizzo steps in and tells her crowd to love themselves for exactly who they are.

Reclaiming Sexuality

Lizzo performs in form fitting spandex outfits that make her look fierce. The Big Girls wear thong bodysuits. Lizzo and the Big Girls twerk on stage, her Instagram showcases her partially nude body, and she preaches being sexual, but not to be sexualized. Lizzo’s sex-positive feminist brand comes out in her music, her message, and her personality as a whole.

It’s a message better shown than told and Lizzo does an amazing job of showing that women are allowed to take control of their bodies and their sexuality and do with it what they please — yes, even big girls. Her mixture of admitted vulnerability on stage while being her confident self is the duality that many of us see in ourselves.

Body positivity, self-love, and celebrating your sexiness are all pieces of thread from the same cloth intended to make all women feel empowered in who they are — Lizzo is the seamstress. The idea that you can still be sexual while respecting your body is something that she exemplifies in her performances. Lizzo’s openness with her body is a celebration of that body and what it means for others who relate to her, whether by race, size, or both.

As someone who battles her own self-love and body positive mindset, Lizzo has made a huge impact on the way I look at myself. Her body positivity, self-love, and sexual reclamation is contagious and I’m proud to say I’ve found myself in her wake of empowerment. Just by being herself, Lizzo is the positive example we all need, no matter what you look like. Thank you, Lizzo, for teaching me that I don’t need a crown to know that I’m a queen.


 

 

 

Chelsy is a writer from Montana who is now living in Boise, Idaho. She graduated with her journalism degree from the University of Montana in 2012. She is passionate about feminism, is a shark enthusiast, and can be found playing Frisbee with her dog, Titan. Follow her on Twitter.

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