I Needed Lizzo As A Child
When Lizzo first appeared on the scene, I will admit that I wasn't her biggest fan. To me, all of her music sounded like it belonged on the soundtrack of some romantic comedy movie involving a purely white cast, and honestly, I think that's where I first heard her songs. After having a deep discussion with some music friends of mine, I came to the conclusion that the reason I wasn't clicking with her music was because she's a pop artist, and it’s not my genre. And there’s nothing wrong with that because I don't have to vibe with an artist to admit that they're talented. And Lizzo is TALENTED. The fact that she can play the flute while simultaneously twerking in a Sailor Moon costume was just icing on the cake!
It wasn't until I saw her artistically nude and splayed across the cover of Rolling Stone that I fell in love with her as a person. How was she so confident in her body? When she posed for Playboy, I stared at the pictures in fascination. She made "fat" look sexy! What the hell? When I saw her last weekend on stage at the BET Awards dancing in a lace white bodysuit, I wanted to weep. The little girl inside of me who has still never fully recovered from being told by a teacher that I ate too many honey buns to dance cried. This is what I needed to see growing up.
If you look at me, my mother, grandmother, and women on both sides of my family, you would understand that skinny isn't in my gene pool. After growing up with what I realize now is body dysmorphia, there are times that I still struggle to love what I see in the mirror. I’m a work in progress, but God, I think what it would have been to grow up with women like Lizzo on the front cover of magazines. Would I have considered being "big" as normal rather than seeing it as the "curse" or "something to disguise”?
Being "fat", "big", "plus-size", "curvy", "thick", "voluptious", etc. is still not widely accepted in our society, but I must admit that we have come a long way. Growing up, all of the celebrities in my generation were waif thin. Brandy, Monica, Beyonce, Rihanna, Raven Symone, TLC, Tia, Tamera, Lisa Turtle, Laura Winslow are just a few examples that immediately come to my mind. Where were the bigger girls? Sure, there was Queen Latifah, but she wasn't my age. I had Missy Elliott, but as sexual and filthy as Missy's lyrics were, I never saw her on stage in revealing outfits. It wasn’t her aesthetic, and that’s cool because it’s not for everybody. However, I think that I wanted someone who was my age, my same size, and didn’t mind showing off her body. My mother used to drown me in baggy clothes that came straight from Cato’s or Fashion Bug. Being a big girl as a child meant covering everything up because "nobody wanted to see all that!" Well, what if I wanted to see it?
When Monique came through and said "every man really wants a big girl," I struggled to internalize it. In my mind, I couldn’t see another man loving my body because I was struggling to love it myself. I think having someone like Lizzo in the spotlight might have helped me. It may have helped me realize that I wasn’t abnormal or an oddity. I needed to understand that there was nothing wrong with being fat or big, as long as I was healthy. I remember the first time that I mentioned to my cousin that I had a coke bottle shape, she replied, "Coke bottle where?!" If I could talk to my younger self, I would have told her. "Just because you're a size 16 doesn't mean your body can't be shaped like a damn bottle. Don't let the clothes fool you."
Seeing others with the same body shape as me dressed in clothes that accentuated and even emphasized the natural curves of their body would have given me the courage to do the same. I wouldn't have felt as awkward as I did in my prom dress, which only showed my shoulders. I would have learned to stopped finding flaws where there were none, especially when it comes to natural dips and dimples on my thighs and butt. Most importantly, I would have told my mother to shove her shapewear straight up her ass and taken the subsequent ass whooping with pride.
I'm grateful for Lizzo because even as a grown ass woman, she's teaching me to love my body more. Her unabashed acceptance of her body is making me strive to reach that same level. Her ability to confidently get on national tv and twerk in lingerie makes me want to do the same thing. Thanks to women like her, Gabi Fresh and even our very own Talia Cadet, I'm now seeing the role models that I needed growing up. The little girl who was told that she was too big to dance is starting to heal.