Lizzo the Hero: How Representation Matters

My mother was always the standard of beauty to me. She was tall, smart, funny, and had a butt so round you could bounce a quarter of it, but most importantly she was a big woman. She knew what being a big woman meant out in the world and did her best to prepare me for it. She taught me that if I was the cute big girl that smelled nice, then the worst they could say is that I was fat.

Growing up a big girl, there wasn’t much representation in the media I consumed. I had my mom and maybe Oprah, but no one that showed all the possibilities of what a fat girl from Lagrange, Georgia, could be.

When I saw this girl named Lizzo take the stage in a Sailor Moon costume at the 2018 Voodoo Music Festival, I was amazed and blown away. She was this talented big girl dancing, singing, and just living her best life. She didn’t cover up her body or try to hide it. She just radiated pure joy.

Lizzo looked like me. She showed me that you can be beautiful, bold, sexy, talented, and fat.

When I saw this black fat woman unapologetically existing and loving herself as she was, my inner child did a backflip. Finally, someone to look up to that loves herself in the body she’s in. She didn’t preach about needing to change or needing to have a man to be of worth. Lizzo in her existence radiated what true body acceptance looked like and that self-worth doesn’t look one way.

Society teaches women that to be worth anything you need to look a certain way and that if you don’t meet these standards you are worthless.

“I’m tired of the bullshit. And I don’t have to know your story to know that you’re tired of the bullshit too. It’s so hard trying to love yourself in a world that doesn’t love you back, am I right?” – Lizzo at the 2019 VMA’s

Looking back to my younger days, I spent more time than I care to admit hating myself for not looking like “the rest”. Yeah, I was a cute kid, still am, but it didn’t change the fact that I was also the “fat kid”. I used to make myself cry because I wanted to be skinny so badly.

I thought that being skinny meant being attractive, that if I was skinny I was worthy of being seen in the way my friends were. Now as an adult, I realize that your body does not equate to your worth. You are beautiful as you are and you don’t have to fit society’s standard of beauty to take up space.

No longer am I afraid of taking up space. If they can’t make room for me, then I’m making room for myself.

“I finally realized that owning up to your vulnerabilities is a form of strength.” – Lizzo in a interview with NBC News

For what seems like for the first time I can look at my body and see a beautiful woman, stretch marks and all. Lizzo showed me that it’s okay to truly love yourself and it is not a crime to be a powerful woman with a thick body. I am capable of being beautiful, talented, and powerful – all while being a fat black woman. I don’t have to exist in the way society taught me I had to.

I can live unapologetically as I am.

Lizzo’s influence on society has shown many plus-sized women that they don’t have to live in a box because they are fat. She preached body love and is truly about it. With her music and representation, Lizzo normalizes fat bodies in creative spaces and smashes stereotypes around plus-sized women. In her video, “Rumors” all the dancers were plus-sized, breaking the stereotype that fat women can’t be graceful or dance professionally.

“I’m doing this for myself. I love creating shapes with my body, and I love normalizing the dimples in my butt or the lumps in my thighs or my back fat or my stretch marks. I love normalizing my black-ass elbows. I think it’s beautiful.” – Lizzo in a interview with Essence Magazine

Young Liv would have killed for a person like Lizzo. Representation of successful black women, successful fat black women, meant that I can do or be anything I want. I don’t have to exist one way, I can exist in any way I want. Lizzo’s representation showed me that I could be more than just the “fat girl”.

Written By

Olivia Johnson

Olivia Johnson is an aspiring entertainment/lifestyle content creator from Atlanta, GA. She is a Digital Content Producer & Copywriter Intern at melanin muse. She is a graduate student at Georgia State University majoring in Communication with a concentration in Digital Media Strategies. She enjoys writing about lifestyle, movies, TV, and all things pop culture. She hopes to one day own her own entertainment/lifestyle magazine called Evolve.