Lizzo Is Bringing Sexy Back
It’s no secret that an integral part of success in the music industry is your image. For female artists, these success and image seem to be especially tightly tethered. She is either too old now and should act her age. Or she’s too skinny, she looks a bit sick, that’s not sexy. And the classic is when she’s fat and that’s not marketable, maybe she could play a sassy best friend in something.
Sexuality and sexiness in itself is not the problem; it’s the gatekeeping around what classes as ‘sexy’. For older women, plus size women and women with disabilities there has been a stigma that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that other women are. Meanwhile, amongst all of this, Lizzo is visibly, meaningfully and unapologetically shattering the glass ceiling to sexy, and she’s doing it so effortlessly.
Lizzo is an American rapper, singer, actor, flautist, and songwriter. Her debut album, Lizzobangers, was released in 2013. In 2015, she released her second album, Big Grrrl Small World. She has recently broken out with her new single ‘Juice’. It’s an empowering song about self confidence and the best thing about it is how unapologetic it is about reclaiming ‘sexy’, and much of her music right from the get-go follows this same angle of unapologetic self-love and self-adulation. She asserts her own glowing image of herself and demands that we take note and view her in the way she has carved for herself. Lizzo doesn’t ask for permission or find ways to make herself for palatable to body standards.
As the industry stands now, it is difficult to be a female artist at the top without fitting into Eurocentric standards of beauty and into the idealised body shape, so Lizzo’s astronomic rise to the top - see her twerk-off with Janelle Monáe and her own phenomenal set at Coachella, a glittering powerhouse of Black excellence on one of the biggest stages in music - is every inch worthy of the celebration and adoration she has earned from her stardom.
With the average size of the American woman being 16-18 it is clear that the music industry is not representative of how most women look. If you are fat, watching TV and music videos is like looking into a world in which you don’t exist. And when you do exist or see yourself represented in this world, it is usually only to fulfil a certain, mostly likely negative stereotype, no one can be fat for no reason. But for most roles and characters that derive from the human imagination, a fat person could have lived that narrative - so why isn’t this represented? There’s a specific type of humiliation you feel when you watch a Friends flashback with fat Monica. It’s a very specific feeling. You are upset but you also find yourself wanting the scene to end. You don’t want to have to look at fat Monica anymore. Upon reflection this feeling isn’t about Monica being fat per say. It’s about fatness being correlated to misery. When Monica was fat she was sad, unlovable and nothing went right for her. Not until she was skinny Monica anyway.
Of course, this isn’t true. Plus size women everywhere are engaging and exploring their sexuality in the same way that other women are. They live their lives with the complexity with which every human being does.
“I’m glad to be alive at a time when young girls aren’t waiting for a fat Monica scene to end but are clicking repeat on a bomb ass Lizzo video instead.”
It could be a long road into readjusting and normalising bigger bodies as sexy. It could be, if people like Lizzo didn’t exist. We are in a climate that is still not safe and accepting of plus size women but Lizzo presents herself and her art in a way that completely oblivious to that. She is sexy and is comfortable with showing off her body in her music videos and on her Instagram. She has confidence in herself and she isn’t willing to take a second opinion from society or the slowly changing state of our representation. It takes one person like Lizzo who boldly refuses to be anything other than herself to then set an example for other women who may look like that to feel as if they are enough.
So why is Lizzo simply existing as talented artist while being plus sized significant? We’ve said again and again. Representation matters. Lizzo is stepping forward to pursue her career and express herself, and as she steps into the spotlight she is leaving a path for other plus size women to follow. I’m glad to be alive at a time when young girls aren’t waiting for a fat Monica scene to end but are clicking repeat on a bomb ass Lizzo video instead.