Lizzo: The body positive label ‘was put on me because of the way that I look’

Lizzo has launched a new line of shapewear called Yitty. It’s by Fabletics, though, so I don’t know if it’s subjected to the same subscription issues. The name is from a nickname her late aunt gave her and the sizes range from 6x – xs. It’s one of the few plus-size shape wears on the market. She spent five years developing it and it comes a variety of pieces and fabulous colors. Of course, Lizzo can’t do much without people attacking her for being a traitor to her brand…. Or at least the brand they assigned her. So when Lizzo, who has been outspoken about embracing herself, launched shapewear, there were those who decried her a hypocrite for walking back on her image of body-positivity. Lizzo responded by pointing out that shapewear does not disqualify body-positivity. But when she was speaking to SiriusXM’ The Heat, Lizzo said that people assigned her the role of a body positivity ambassador but she never asked to be one. It was thrust upon her by others because she loved herself and happened to be a certain size.

Lizzo is speaking out about her role in the body-positivity movement, sharing that she never claimed she was an advocate for plus-size women.
“It was put on me because of the way that I look just like with everyone else, you get people who prejudge you based off of how you look. And I put myself out there, I put myself on a pedestal, I amplified myself. And I think that that immediately was seen as political,” she said while on SiriusXM’s The Heat.

“So I’ve had all these terms thrown at me and, you know, superimposed onto me, body-positive activist, self-love, guru, all of these things. And I didn’t ask for them.”

The singer and songwriter has opened up about her thoughts on body positivity in the past, saying that it’s been “commercialized” by people whom the movement wasn’t created for. She’s also preached the idea of being “body normative” in an effort to “normalize” her body and bring it outside the center of attention.

“I don’t want to talk about this anymore,” she told Essence magazine referring to conversations about her body.

In her latest interview, however, she clarified that the terms that she’s been described by aren’t something that she’s ashamed of. In fact, she’s learned to take them on.

“I definitely embraced them because they’re good things. It’s like, why wouldn’t I wanna be body positive? I don’t wanna be body negative. Why wouldn’t I wanna be a self-love guru? I don’t wanna be a self-hate guru,” she said. “So, fortunately, these are just signs that I’m on the right path and doing the right thing and that I’m a good person. And I resonate with that and I fully embrace that.”

[From Yahoo!]

I went back to my own coverage and Lizzo’s right, I put the body-positivity label on her more than she did. She loves herself and that’s the consistent thread in her interviews. That’s not to say she hasn’t accepted the body-positivity mantle on occasion. But as she said, who wouldn’t want to be body-positive? So maybe Lizzo simply spoke to the larger message when she felt like it would look like an attack on it if she didn’t.

As for Yitty, Lizzo wants it to be a part of making women feel good about themselves. That means wearing shapewear only if it makes them feel better. She wrote a whole love letter to her fans about it, telling them to take it off the minute it becomes uncomfortable. I get what she’s saying, if someone feels better about themselves in shapewear, it would be nice to have a high-quality option with their shape in mind. But I get that any shapewear is seen as an endorsement for skinny culture.

Photo credit: Instar Images, Instagram and Avalon Red

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28 Responses to “Lizzo: The body positive label ‘was put on me because of the way that I look’”

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  1. girl_ninja says:

    Society has a way of taking possession of women’s bodies and putting their labels on “us.” They did this with Adele too. Just let us be and live how we would like. Lizzo doesn’t owe anyone anything at all.

    • mayari says:

      The problem with Lizzo is that she continuously played into that label whenever she could like twerking at that basketball game and pooping live on Instagram after she got backlash for her antics. It cheapened her message about positivity. It was hard to take her seriously for many.

      • Grace says:

        How does twerking at a basketball game cheapen her message about body positivity?

      • girl_ninja says:

        None of what you shared should have anything to do with body positivity. She is one woman and to put that banner of “body positivity” on her is unfair and not her responsibility.

  2. Laalaa says:

    Great shapewear is something that is needed, for example because it saves women from showing their panty lines while wearing business or formal attire.
    That’s just one example.
    Some friends wear shapewear to avoid the thigh rub.
    And she is right.

  3. OriginalLaLa says:

    I used to love the body-positivity movement but I quickly realised it was becoming just one more label used against women, and more specifically larger women (and larger women of colour) – and it didn’t help that it was co-opted by the insta model/influencer brigade

    • Izzy says:

      It’s been co-opted on both sides. At the other extreme is the Fat Acceptance movement (this is their own terminology, not what I’m calling it), which espouses the idea that even being obese or morbidly obese is healthy and the notion that diabetes and heart disease being linked to obesity, is a lie driven to shame people into being thinner. They’re like the flat-earthers of body positivity. It’s a shame because these movements all started on the idea that obese people are still entitled to good health care that involves more than just a lazy doctor blaming everything on their weight. As someone who has struggled with being overweight for a lot of my life and had a very simple diagnosis missed because the doctor only saw a fat person, I think this concept is important. Unfortunately, it’s now lost in extremist rhetoric.

      • Betsy says:

        I don’t know much about the granular issues in the fat acceptance movement, but I think one of their things is that there is a percentage (and it’s low, like 10%) of fat people who are metabolically healthy people. They’re just fat. And there are fat people who are fit and they’re actually healthier than skinny fat people. Meanwhile, no one talks about skinny fat people or how high their health risks are – comparable to just plain old fat people. So while I struggle to lose weight because I don’t like how I look fat, I appreciate that they’re talking about the fact that fat does not always mean “unhealthy,” just like thin does not always mean “healthy.”

      • Cate says:

        Izzy, I am so sorry a doctor dismissed your health concerns because of your weight. However, you are misrepresenting what fat acceptance is. First, the idea is not that obese/morbidly obese automatically=health. The idea is that weight is a very poor predictor of health and so it shouldn’t be used to the degree it is both in medical settings and in people making snap judgements of others. Also that people are not OBLIGED to be healthy–if you enjoy exercising, eating vegetables, etc. by all means go for it, but if you dislike those things to the point that you would rather not do them and lose some health, that is also your right.

        It’s also very difficult to impossible to deliberately lose significant amounts of weight and maintain the weight loss permanently. Most dieters tend to yo-yo and often wind up regaining all the weight they lost and then some. Dieting is actually a very strong predictor of future weight gain, so even if being overweight is causing health problems, dieting likely isn’t a permanent fix and may even make the “problem” worse in the end. Maintaining a stable but high weight is generally healthier than having ongoing extreme weight fluctuations brought about by dieting.

      • Izzy says:

        Cate, I agree that the Fat Acceptance movement IS those things, but if you look at the conversation that has developed in their own online spaces, my point is that their movement is being hijacked by people who take it to a ridiculous extreme and ignore all science. Yes, overweight people can be healthy. I’m technically obese and have always had normal-to-low blood pressure. My challenge with weight loss has stemmed from insulin resistance specifically from PCOS, and 13 months of intensive exercise and changes in eating habits still only brought about half the weight loss that someone with normal metabolism should. My point above is that a really good movement with really good foundations is getting overtaken by some bad messaging now, and it’s a shame because it’s really needed.

      • C says:

        All movements have their extreme weird segments that don’t necessarily reflect the overall message. I don’t think that’s happening with Fat Acceptance. But other people amplify the most unreasonable people in it because they want to perpetuate stigma and say “See? Look how dangerous this movement is!”

      • Concern Fae says:

        One very real problem is that we really don’t know what the health effects of obesity are. Why? Because there is enormous shaming and social rejection that goes with being obese and both those factors have very high correlation with increased disease risk. How do we separate those out?

        One thing to realize is that when researchers are studying something and use weight a variable, rather than studying the effect of weight on X, they get very different answers. European researchers using population wide data from their health systems, discovered that the cancer risk of people at higher weights was due to the fact that they were more likely to have been on a diet in the past two years. This isn’t the only study showing that the risk of “obesity” may not be the extra weight, but the fact that you probably have screwed up your metabolism through repeated dieting (and are treated terribly by society). Plus you have to add in the bad medical advice you get from doctors.

        Diet support was only covered by insurance after enormous lobbying by the diet industry back in the 90s. Why? Because there is zero medical indication that it works. More people gain back all the weight and more than actually lose weight and keep it off. What other medical treatment would we accept these results for? Something other than medicine is going on here.

        On shape wear. I don’t usually wear it. My preference is for clothes that fit my body. However, I will wear it as an underlayer for loose and flowing dresses. I might buy from Lizzo, especially if her line has different levels of support. I don’t like being squished, just supported.

  4. Songs (Or It Didn't Happen) says:

    On the one hand, does Lizzo herself wear shapewear, because she looks fabulous in almost anything. A lot of that has to do with her confidence, but, I would wear shapewear presented by someone closer to my bodytype that uses it.

    On the other hand, shapewear is about changing the body for either appearance or comfort. So I could see how that clashes with loving yourself the way you are.

    On a third hand, shapewear, like makeup, should be a person’s decision to wear in order to enhance the beauty God gave them, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

    Then, on the one foot, I can understand Lizzo not wanting to constantly talk about her body and have that be her brand. She loves herself, loving yourself with confidence and enthusiasm is her brand. That is universal to all body types.

    But then, on the other foot, people admire her body and young women take inspiration from her love of it, and that’s a good thing.

    And then, I am more than our of limbs to use thinking about this.

    • Iforget says:

      I love this comment!! It made me lol and is exactly how I feel 🙌

    • Silent Star says:

      I agree @SONGS, shapewear is a lot like makeup or a hairstyle. It’s just another tool to help us temporarily change our aesthetic or tweak a look. I’m not sure how the use of shapewear can be a threat to body positivity any more than any of the other other many beauty tricks we all use.

      When skinny people do things to change their appearance, it’s acceptable; when fat people do it, it’s not. Such hypocrisy!

  5. Huma says:

    Mindy Kaling has made a similar point about the loaded insulting micro aggressive questions she gets asked.

    I’d like to point out that when you dress modestly and choose high quality fabrics you don’t have to buy shapewear and you can also protect your skin from the sun at a low cost.
    Also, men love for us to be always looking for the new way to be flawlessly attractive , that keeps our mind focused on multiple things rather than competing for the power they have. Find what looks good on you and looks elegant and professional, buy it in high quality fabrics, exercise and stay out of the sun. Buying sexy clothes which need shapewear and lashes and all this extra stuff is just diverting women’s attention and all of our resources. Shapewear has an ecological cost and it’s made in China so there’s the ethical issue, while exercise builds muscle which protects your health when you get old and also makes you look nicer when you’re um, in lingerie for your partner or in a swimsuit. But yeah if you need shapewear do get it from the talented and thoughtful Lizzo not the other lady who’s filthy rich for all the wrong reasons. Or maybe there’s a locally made option?

    • Laalaa says:

      Well, while I respect this point of view: I work as a choir conductor, I have to face the audience with my behind and all the quality material in the world will not hide the panty lines when the stage lights shine. Shapewear helps, and it’s a thing that is heavily used, it has its purpose without the sexy clothes in mind at all.

    • C says:

      This comment is a little strange. It sounds as if you’re stating women should just cover up and thus when they stop wearing immodest clothing like bodycon dresses or something the problems will be solved. If you’re wearing an outfit that shows skin you can apply SPF to the exposed areas. And exercise is good but almost everyone has cellulite whether they exercise or not, I don’t like how it looks and shapewear helps me with that.
      The idea that purchasing cosmetic things is problematic because of its production I guess I can get, but almost everything we consume is like that, so singling it out is weird.
      And the idea that it “diverts women’s attention” is just condescending, to me.

    • Songs (Or It Didn't Happen) says:

      Maybe you can clarify that a bit because, although it may not have been your intention, your comment read (to me) like women just need to cover up and wear less makeup because it lessens or cheapens them somehow to do otherwise, that women need to focus on looking more ‘elegant’ and ‘professional’ and exercise to look better for their partner in bed. That’s just…. A lot of toxicity right there. Again, it’s early, and I might just really be misinterpreting.

    • N0b0dy says:

      What is happening here? Women shouldn’t show skin because it’s distracting? This is a joke right ?

  6. MsIam says:

    It seems like we have to apologize for what we do or don’t do every second of the day! Wear the damn shape wear if you want to, if that makes you happy! Or don’t. Whose business is it what you wear or don’t wear under your clothes? Is this freedom? Sheesh!

    • C says:

      I agree.

    • Otaku fairy says:

      It seems like when an overweight famous woman says “I love my body” or “I love myself”, people automatically misinterpret it as her saying she’s committed to not only staying the size they’re seeing forever, but never doing or wearing anything that re-shapes parts of her body. Whether it’s one who came into the industry that size, or one who started out skinny but gained weight in the public eye. “I love my body/myself” might really just mean that these women aren’t going to hide from the public and put their dreams aside over weight gain as if they did something wrong, and that they’re not going to let it get in the way of their sexuality and the things they want to wear.

  7. HELLOTHERE says:

    I remember awhile ago Lizzo talked about a diet or cleanse and was attacked for it as though she were betraying the movement. Like she said, she didn’t ask for this. And if she wanted a cleanse for herself, she should be able to do that without being called a traitor.

  8. Emmy Rae says:

    Lizzo just doing her thing and not hating herself is considered political. It is so absurd how she is expected to speak for and defend something she didn’t try to be the spokesperson for. She gets in trouble for not saying the right stuff and meanwhile a bunch of assholes get mad at everything she does because they hate fat people.

    I see her as trying really hard to respectfully represent body positivity even though she didn’t ask for that <3

  9. K-law says:

    I’m a professional and often wear control top hose, or the original spanx type high waisted shorts in the summer when I’m working . Hides panty lines and makes me feel tucked in. Also a shirt or tank top actually stays tucked in with a smooth line more or less with shape wear or hose.

    I don’t want to worry about my pantylines or clothes coming untucked while I’m in court. It’s one less distraction. And there are often people sitting directly behind me with my butt at their eye level.

    Then again, I also dress more casually for work when I feel like it. Sometimes I wear makeup, sometimes not. I agree shapewear is like make-up. I often couldn’t be bothered with either.

    I think body positivity can include a wide range of views and it’s OK.

  10. Jane Wilson says:

    To be honest, I just think she’s perfectly wonderful – not because of, or in spite of anything, just because she has the most vivid, beautiful, joyful smile, a twinkle of humour and naughtiness in ger eyes, and a humanity and realness that I feel.
    I adore her.

  11. JFerber says:

    I watched Lizzo’s recent reality show called Big Girlzz(?) where she’s looking for new dancers. The show was quite entertaining and I came away admiring Lizzo even more for how dedicated, talented and kind she is. She does the work and treats the contestants with constant empathpy and realistic problem-solving. I’d love to have her for a boss.