5 Reasons Why You Should Be Listening to Lizzo (If You Aren't Already)
It’s been a little over two weeks since MTV’s VMAs, but I’m still thinking about Lizzo’s electrifying performance at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey . No, I’m not talking about the flashy costumes, energetic backup dancers, or the can’t-look-away-from-it inflatable butt that, quite literally, took up half the stage.
I’m talking about the fact that Lizzo is an insanely talented vocalist who I suspect would succeed in some capacity regardless of her approach—which is not to say that she hasn’t aptly found and thrived in her niche.
All of this is to say that there are a myriad of reasons to follow Lizzo. The cotton candy aesthetics that reel you in are only minor in part when you consider her vocal range. After all, other artists have long been flaunting, well, everything way before MTV started broadcasting music videos. So what makes a person who is drawn in by Lizzo’s charm and charisma stay for the whole show?
She’s the Body Positive Activist We Need
As a body positive believer and a woman myself, I know all too well the struggle of what it’s like to go through this life in a body that is larger than what made up socio-cultural constraints say it should be. It can be beyond frustrating and on some level, disheartening, when people like Amy Schumer and Mindy Kaling—who are mid-size (or, I don’t know, average?) at best—are thrown at us as examples of being successful “plus size” actresses who were able to break through and become mainstream in an industry that applauds thinness at all costs. That’s why it’s great to see someone who actually has a larger body—who has clearly done so much work to truly love and accept herself— take center stage with such fire, passion, success, and acclaim. She’s the dream of success for women fed up with disordering themselves into Hollywood’s arbitrary, canned version of what success (and beauty) looks like.
Representation, Representation, Representation
I’ll say it a little louder for those in the back: Representation. As an intersectional plus-size feminist, Lizzo has become an emblem of the marginalized around the globe. People who have never before been able to identify with the celebrity idols placed before us now have someone they can look up to, someone who understands the struggles of being black, of being plus-size, of being homeless, of being female—and how these identities are both intertwined and self-distinguished. Research shows that it is critical to the development of self-worth and self-esteem to see one’s self represented in all forms of media—whether it be on the silver screen, across the radio waves, or on Instagram. It helps create a positive and healthy self-image, and the repercussions as indicators of future success are astounding.
Additionally, you can’t ignore the fact that Lizzo has chosen an incredibly talented team of plus-sized, black, female backup dancers with whom to take—or take over—the stage. Their performance at the VMAs was an onslaught of eye-popping visuals, catchy tunes, and outright joy as they danced, smiled, and let themselves be free. Watching it, you couldn’t help but feel joy right along with them. Andy Warhol was one of the first artists to study repeated representation and its desensitizing effect. One can only hope that through repeated representation of the marginalized, we can work towards a more inclusive world.
She’s the Reigning Queen of the Billboard Hot 100 Charts
Lizzo may have lost out to teen-idol Billie Eilish for Best Emerging Artist at the VMAs, but that doesn’t mean much when you’re the reigning queen of the number one spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 Charts. With the catchy earworm “Truth Hurts” currently sitting at number one for the second week in a row, Music & Mojitos has a sneaking suspicion that Lizzo is here to stay.
Even Your Mom Will Feel Good As Hell
My mom, bless her heart, lives in a small (read: minuscule) town where music is usually three or four years late to the radio waves. I was not in the least surprised to find out she didn’t know who Lizzo was, nor was I surprised to hear that upon sending her “Good As Hell,” she immediately bought the song on iTunes. Lizzo’s music speaks to so many different people, in a way that brings everybody together. And if there’s on thing we need more of in this ever-divisive world today, it’s unity.
She’s Living Proof You Can Overcome Impossible Odds
Lizzo talked at-length to NPR about her experience growing up in a Pentecostal household as a self-proclaimed nerd who played the piccolo in the marching band in middle and high school. As if that didn’t distinguish her enough from her classmates, she spent periods of time hating her body, and wishing she could be someone else. At the age of 21, her father passed away. She found herself homeless, living out of her car, in what she described as “the worst year of her life.” Those events could have defined Lizzo—they could have kept her in obscurity. And although the word “manifested” gets thrown around by people who don’t truly know the power or meaning behind the phrase, it’s true that you can’t get where Lizzo is today without manifesting your dreams into reality.
And that makes Lizzo worth listening to.
Banner photo by Luke Gilford.