When reflecting on what defined the summer of 2019, the first image that came to mind was the overnight success of the unapologetic and refreshingly inclusive singer Lizzo. If you have been living under a rock and have not yet been blessed with knowing all that is Lizzo, she is the breath of fresh air the music industry has been so desperately longing for. Most notably, her universally relatable and empowering song, “Truth Hurts,” which was actually released over two years ago, skyrocketed on all platforms and just landed her the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for the second week in a row. This highly sought-after accomplishment placed Lizzo alongside singers Beyoncé, Rihanna, Janelle Monáe and Cardi B as the only black women to reach number one on the Billboard charts during this decade.
This past spring, I was fortunate enough to first discover Lizzo on Instagram through her body-positive anthem “Juice” and immediately fell in love with her just by reading her username, “lizzobeeating.”
In April 2019, she released her first major label LP entitled “Cuz I Love You,” which debuted at number six on the Billboard 200 chart. The album consists of 11 songs that range from catchy feminist anthems, to slower ballads and high-tempo dance tracks, featuring rappers such as Missy Elliot. The wide array of genres within a single album shows what a versatile and adaptable artist Lizzo is. Some highlights on the album include the title track “Cuz I Love You,” “Soulmate,” “Like a Girl,” “Better in Color,” “Tempo” and of course, “Juice.”
PHOTO COURTESY OF PEOPLE
In the song “Soulmate,” Lizzo declares a statement of self-love in the chorus with the line, “Cause I’m my own soulmate, I know how to love me. I know that I’m always gonna hold me down.” Another inspiring track is the girl power anthem “Like a Girl” where she proclaims, “So if you fight like a girl, cry like a girl, do your thing, run the whole damn world. If you feel like a girl then you real like a girl, do your thing, run the whole damn world.”
As a plus size black woman taking the music industry by storm, it is safe to assume that Lizzo receives more criticism than the average up-and-coming entertainer; however, she does not let that hinder her artistry or prevent her from spreading critical messages of representation and self-love. As a plus size woman myself, I have struggled with the ridicule and fatphobia that plagues society for as long as I can remember. I have always dreamed of having a role model that resembles my body type who is not a side character or the punchline of an offensive joke. When plus size women are portrayed in the media, specifically in television and film, they are rarely the lead, are obsessed with becoming thin, are presented as the “pathetic friend” and their weight often serves as comic relief. With such terrible representation, it is easy to internalize these dangerous messages and start believing them. Thanks to women like Lizzo, who serves as representation and an outspoken advocate for all women of color and those of us who are plus size, I am beginning to unlearn the damaging messages that have been forced into my psyche. Thankfully, I can confidently say that I am farther along in my self-love journey than I was before the phenomenal rise of Lizzo.
Victoria is a sophomore Political Science and Italian double major with a minor in Law, Justice and Society.