By Krystal Lambert
“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.” -Lizzo
To be fair, Lizzo pretty much wrote this article for me because she is so damn quotable. She describes self-love in such an honest, vulnerable and real way she makes it feel accessible to even a peasant such as myself. The first time I heard the song ‘Good As Hell’ it blew my wig off. I listened to it every single day for about…well actually I still listen to it every single day. Her single ‘Truth Hurts’ is just as empowering and it’s currently THE NUMBER ONE SONG IN AMERICA, SIS. Think about that for a second. A fat black woman singing about loving herself and what a bad bitch she is, is topping the charts. The fact that her message of body positivity, self-esteem, and telling fuvkboys where to go has become not only mainstream, but the anthem of the summer, is mind-blowing. What a time to be alive.
Some may not quite understand what all the hype is about, but for big women, and especially big women of color, Lizzo is a beacon of hope and joy in a cruel and degrading world. She is normalizing fat bodies, brown and black bodies, and providing visibility for marginalized folks everywhere.
“This music is medicine and I’m trying to get it to my sisters. It’s so exciting to me to finally be at a level where I have exposure to my Black sisters, my big sisters, my Black trans sisters. It’s not about being poppin’. It’s not about being famous or fashion. It’s about being better and making sure that this world can hear us and respect us.” -Lizzo
She also pushes back against the concept that a big woman celebrating her body is “brave.”
“When people look at my body and be like, ‘Oh my God, she’s so brave,’ it’s like, ‘No I’m not,” “I’m just fine. I’m just me. I’m just sexy. If you saw Anne Hathaway in a bikini on a billboard, you wouldn’t call her brave. I just think there’s a double standard when it comes to women.”
Not only is Lizzo a role-model for women everywhere, but with her powerhouse vocals, witty rhymes, and exuberant beats she is impossible not to dance to. She is also a classically trained flutist, and her flute has its own instagram @sashabefluting. I was blessed enough to see her in concert a few months ago and it was truly a spiritual experience. I was on the verge of tears the entire time, mostly tears of joy. I was right up front and I remember watching the security guards at the front of the stage. They were (presumably) white cis males, and they looked pretty confused for the first half off the show. Their eyes would float from the screaming, enthusiastic crowd back to Lizzo on stage, a fat black woman dancing around in lingerie, singing about how sexy her body is. I remember watching them go from bewildered, to smiling and dancing in spite of themselves by the end of the show. It was a thoroughly satisfying thing to witness.
At one point in her performance Lizzo sort of broke down and got emotional about her mental health. She spoke about being really depressed lately, and how hard it is to be open about those things as a “strong black woman”. Here is yet another poignant quote about this very stigma:
“I also know that there’s a stigma around therapy in the black community, and there had been for a long time, especially for black women. We’re so strong, because of all that we have been put through, and how little we’re sought after and looked out for. So, black women end up like, ‘I got it. I don’t need help. I’m handling this. That’s why I tried to be strong for so long.'”
As a white woman, I haven’t experienced this exact struggle and I won’t claim to fully understand what that stigma feels like. I do understand hiding my mental health issues and depressive episodes, though. I usually prefer to go through the darkness alone because I don’t want to be weak. The other night I was at a real low point, so much so that I took some sleeping pills and laid down to go to sleep at 7 pm which is very uncharacteristic of me. I was struggling with self-loathing and just wanted to sleep through it all. I kid you not, as I closed my eyes I had a vision of Lizzo standing over my bed in the dark saying “Not on my watch, bitch.” I immediately burst out laughing and thought, wow this woman has truly changed my life. I can’t even disappear into the void in peace anymore!
In closing, I implore you all to watch Lizzo’s NPR Tiny Desk Concert. It was best 15 minutes of my recent life, and I’ve watched it probably ten times now.