The world’s leading twerking flautist is here to teach you how to feel good as hell
BY ROXY BOURDILLON, IMAGE VIA INSTAGRAM
At the 2019 MTV VMAs, Lizzo shared the stage with a crew of gorgeous, curvaceous Black backing dancers, and an enormous, inflatable, bouncing booty. In the middle of her medley of self-love anthems, she took a moment to speak directly to the audience: “I’m tired of the bullshit and I don’t have to know your story to know that you’re tired of the bullshit too. It’s so hard trying to love yourself in a world that doesn’t try to love you back. So I want to take this opportunity right now to just feel good as hell, because you deserve to feel good as hell. We deserve to feel good as hell!” The crowd roared in agreement. Queen Latifah was up on her feet, grinning ear-to-ear. Afterwards, Rihanna DM’d Lizzo and told her, “You fucked the stage like it was your side bitch.”
In a word: iconic. But then, every Lizzo moment is iconic. She’s naked, glistening and glorious on the cover for her smash hit album, Cuz I Love You: iconic. She’s preaching radical self-love to her 4.7 million Instagram followers: iconic. She’s rocking Jay-Z’s Made In America festival as Beyoncé watches spellbound from the side of the stage: iconic doesn’t even come close.
As Lizzo would say, she’s “100% that bitch”, she’s the pop star the world needs right now and she’s here to start a revolution, both in the music industry and inside your head. Lizzo wants you to love yourself as much as you love her. And who in their right mind doesn’t love Lizzo? The world is gripped by Lizzo fever. She’s wowed audiences everywhere from Glastonbury to the Black Entertainment Television Awards. In the past few months alone, she’s graced the covers of Essence, Allure, The Cut and Love.
But while 2019 may be the year of Lizzo, her life hasn’t always been sunshine, RiRi DMs and belfies (that’s butt-selfies for the uninitiated). The rapper and classically trained flautist – real name Melissa Jefferson – has been hustling and doing her darnedest to get noticed for over a decade. In high school she was a self-confessed nerd, and at the age of 21, she spent a year living in her car following the death of her father. She was struggling to break into the music business, dieting and overexercising obsessively to try and look like the pop stars she saw on TV. It was only when she had the epiphany that she was going to be in her body for the rest of her life so she’d better start accepting it, that her career took off. She recently told Entertainment Tonight, “I need this music to be my therapy, because I have been so low and I refuse to live life like that anymore.”
Look at her now – the poster girl for body positivity, magnificent and magnetic, showing just how irresistible a confident, voluptuous, Black woman is. Her authenticity is intoxicating. She never hides the fact that it takes a lot of work to feel good as hell. She is intentional about self-love. Through her epic performances and no-holds-barred social media presence, Lizzo urges us all to love ourselves just as hard as she does and to embrace, rather than feel ashamed, of the things that make us different.
And just when we thought we couldn’t love Lizzo more, she only went and called herself a “Lizzbean” on Twitter. Her queer credentials don’t stop there. She’s opened for Sleater-Kinney on tour, been invited to perform at the 2020 GLAAD Media Awards, and at her NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert she gave a shoutout to “non-conforming genders” and declared herself “fuckboy-free, fuckgirl-free, fuck-them, fuck-they free”. She spoke to Teen Vogue about her own sexuality, revealing, “I personally don’t ascribe to just one thing… That’s why the colours for LGBTQI+ are a rainbow!”
We all have such a lot to learn from Lizzo. Luckily for us, she’s more than happy to share her hard-won wisdom in her own inimitable style.
Life lessons from Lizzo
1. Surround yourself with strong women
Proud feminist Lizzo never feels more confident, special or sexy than when she’s in a group of powerful women. While you’re lapping up all that magical, feminine energy, make sure you lift others up too. As Lizzo sings on Juice, “If I’m shinin’, everybody gonna shine”.
2. Use social media to make you feel better, not worse
Seeing fashion blogger Gabi Fresh’s bikini selfies on Instagram was a breakthrough moment for Lizzo. Appreciating how gorge Gabi looked, and realising they shared a similar body type and skin tone, she felt emboldened to rock a two-piece herself. Curate your own feed by only following accounts that inspire and uplift you – queer creators, body positive activists, and of course, Lizzo’s flute @shashabefluting.
3. Be a better ally
In an interview for Jameela Jamil’s iWeigh community, Lizzo addresses the issue of allyship within feminist spaces. She talks about how white women can, and should, use their privilege to amplify the voices of Black women, emphasising that division within marginalised groups is the greatest enemy: “You’d have the power to make guacamole free at Chipotle, if you guys truly banded together.”
4. Communicate, especially on your bad days
Even superstars get depressed. In an emotional Instagram post Lizzo writes, “I self-love so hard because everything feels like rejection… it feel like the whole world be ghostin me sometimes. Sad af today.” When she finds herself back in that dark place, Lizzo makes a conscious effort to reach out to people and let them know what she’s going through, even if it’s the last thing she feels like doing.
5. Don’t give up on your dreams
When Lizzo dropped Truth Hurts in 2017, she was so devastated by the lack of response that she seriously considered quitting music altogether. Thank god she changed her mind. Lizzo is the living, twerking proof that graft can lead to glory. Oh, and that little song that almost ended her career? This year it reached number one in the US Billboard Top 100.
6. Love yourself… No, really. Love yourself.
Lizzo’s not shy about her fondness for masturbation. In ‘Scuse Me, an ode to self-pleasure, she croons, “I don’t need nobody else, ‘Scuse me while I feel myself”. The music video features fantasy scenes of Lizzo undulating by a waterfall alongside three other stunning Rubenesque goddesses, all draped in diaphanous togas and jewels. Welcome to sapphic self-care nirvana.
This article first appeared in the October 2019 issue of DIVA – grab your digital copy right here!