The Lizzo Effect: Big, Black, and Unashamed

Lizzo performed at this year’s VMAs, and the conversations about her performance were centered around how brave she was. I asked myself, why was she considered to be brave? Was it because she exist in the public eye in a fat body? Is it because she dares to love herself and her body as it is? Or could it be that she has the audacity to go out and not shrink herself  for the praise of mainstream society? I think it’s all the above and then some. 

As we all know, in our society to be fat AND a black woman is something of a curse. Big (or plus size for the politically correct folks) black women like myself are the living embodiment of disgust. We are seen to be lazy, unhealthy, and unworthy of love; even self-love. We are taught from a young age, by being bullied at school for being fat and put on diets at a young age, that we are not okay as we are. We needed to either change or shrink ourselves just to go about our day. It was a way of protecting ourselves. Well, not anymore!

The body positivity movement has been on a roll these last few year and I don’t see it slowing down anytime soon. Many critics of this “movement” claim that it encourages people to live unhealthy lifestyles. Can we pause for a second? Let’s stop camouflaging our learned hatred of bigger bodies as concern for one’s health. Because let’s be honest, society could care less about the health of it all. If it was really about one’s health, we would all be fierce advocates for healthcare for all policies, and lower prescription drugs. We would fiercely advocate for equitable healthcare for black women. We would demand access to affordable mental health services. But we don’t.

There are people out here really upset that big black women aren’t ashamed of being big anymore. They’re upset that we have the audacity to love something that is perceived as disgusting. They’re upset that we aren’t constantly making every effort towards a smaller body. But, what they are really upset about is that they no longer have anyone to look down on to boost their fragile self-esteem. See, having always been the “fat friend,” as long as I was around, my friends always knew, that at least they were prettier than one girl in the room, me!

Myself and other big black women aren’t going for it anymore! We are becoming more and more unapologetically ourselves! And I have to say, I love it! I’ve never loved myself more. Not because my body has changed, but because my perspective about my body has evolved.

Seeing Lizzo on stage makes my 12 year old, overweight young black girl heart leap for joy. I’m thankful other young black girls will have her to look up to. That they can love themselves, no matter how big or small!


DaiJhah Owens is a Contributing Writer for the Pedestal Project, LLC. DaiJhah is passionate about shifting political power to oppressed groups through education. She believes there is nothing more powerful than an educated black woman who can smell political BS a mile away! Connect with her on Instagram at @d_nakhole!

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