Lizzo recently went to a basketball game donned in a thong outfit exposing her butt cheeks. She literally went viral overnight, with people comparing her to wrestler Rikishi. Fat jokes are a sad, unavoidable part of plus size fame. For a very blatant reason, she is always dismissed for not being demure and miserable. The idea of a plus-size person’s life not revolving around diet culture and insecurity is unfathomable for a lot of people.
I originally started this post as a response to a video I saw that insinuated that she somehow lacked self-respect and self-esteem. However, I think it would be more beneficial to applaud Lizzo for what she is doing. Being a fat, Black woman often means being forced into one of two categories. We are either the sassy best friend whose only purpose is comedic timing or we are the matriarch that takes care of the friend group at the expense of her own happiness. We are hardly ever the star and never the object of affection. We are somehow disregarded while simultaneously expected to be appreciative to be allowed in whatever minimal space that we’re given.
That is, until Lizzo. She is a Black woman dominating both urban and contemporary spaces. Someone that is not dimming or dumbing down who she is to fit in one space. She makes mainstream America uncomfortable and pushes the boundaries that were previously placed on women that look like her. Lizzo references Beyonce and Rihanna while still embracing her love of being a band nerd. Playing Back That Azz Up on a classical flute! It is admirable that Lizzo is not begging to be seen and accepting second fiddle. She is demanding respect and the spotlight. A prime example of what we mean when we constantly express that Black people are a multitude of things and have a myriad of experiences, even if we still all relate to our Blackness similarly. While there will always be a critique of her somehow doing “too much”, I believe that she’s doing the perfect amount of extra to blaze a trail for other Black women to follow.
In conclusion, we need more women like Lizzo. Welcome the influx of apple-shaped, racially unambiguous, Black plus size women, that embrace their bodies unapologetically. People fearlessly pushing the boundaries and shattering the idea of respectability politics. It is not your responsibility to prove to others that you have self-esteem. It also is not possible to discern someone else’s self-worth solely based on how they look. How someone feels about themselves and their own body is not quantifiable. Believe it or not, there are women who dress modestly that hate their bodies and women that post lingerie pictures on the internet that are proud and confident in who they are. One does not deserve more respect than the other. Also, respect is not optional. Especially if the basis his how people are dressed. Shoutout to all the fat, Black women who, in the words of Drake, started wearing less and going out more.