Lizzo’s claim that ‘body positivity’ is only for really fat people undermines the message it is aiming to spread
Pop star Lizzo has suggested the body positivity movement has been hijacked by people who, frankly, aren’t large enough. This is the sort of exclusivity that brought about the idea in the first place.
Body positivity is not exactly a new movement. There have been many music artists and pop culture icons who have demanded acceptance for people of all different sizes.
One high-profile celebrity who has been particularly vocal is Lizzo. Being a larger person herself, body positivity is a pretty substantial part of her brand. However, recently she has been lamenting that the movement has slightly lost its way. In an interview with Vogue, she rather confusingly said she appreciated the inclusiveness of the movement… but then complained that it’s basically encompassing all body types.
“It’s commercialized,” she claimed. “Now, you look at the hashtag ‘body positive’ and you see smaller-framed girls, curvier girls. Lotta white girls. And I feel no ways about that, because inclusivity is what my message is always about.”
But her description of the people that it’s supposed to be about amounted to a long set of descriptions of fatter people.
“Girls with back fat, girls with bellies that hang, girls with thighs that aren’t separated, that overlap,” she said. “Girls with stretch marks. You know, girls who are in the 18-plus club. They need to be benefiting from… the mainstream effect of body positivity now. But with everything that goes mainstream, it gets changed. It gets – you know, it gets made acceptable.”
What strikes me about this is that her complaints really don’t make any sense. On one hand, she is stating that she’s happy that it’s an inclusive movement. And on the other hand she’s lamenting the fact that it’s, er, an inclusive movement. Well, which one is it?
Do you want more people or less people? Is it about being an overweight individual and not feeling bad about yourself because you have good character? Or is it about being comfortable within your own skin, no matter what kind of a body you’re in?
The funny element of this is that it feels like she’s making some kind of hipster statement – “I was body positive before it was cool,” or something along those lines. However, as a larger person myself, and someone who has talked about and looked into what the body positivity movement is supposed to be about, I find what she’s implying to actually be a little offensive.
Think of it this way. There are a lot of people out there who have a hard time being comfortable within their own skin. They wake up, look at themselves in the mirror and point out one little flaw or several flaws on their body, and think that it’s going to be the thing that keeps them from ever being loved. These sorts of feelings are why disorders like anorexia and bulimia exist.
So if you’re going to have a movement whose central principle is that people of all shapes and sizes can be loved, why, all of a sudden, is it so bad that there are more people than before?
Beyond that, body positivity is something that could have the potential to be a force for good for the younger generation. It’s constantly lamented that there aren’t more larger individuals like Lizzo who are massively successful in their chosen walk of life. There are people out there who probably take comfort in the fact that you don’t have to have a six-pack of abs to achieve fame and wealth.
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What Lizzo is saying here seems to spit in the face of everybody that doesn’t fit her description of who should be in this club. In a sense, it echoes the same sort of exclusivity that brought about the movement in the first place. If someone’s belly isn’t hanging out the bottom of their shirt, it seems they don’t qualify under Lizzo’s standards.
And thus we have the problem with movements like this. There’s always a goofball who wants to set down really stupid rules. If Lizzo really wants people to be accepting of how she chooses to live her life, the last thing she should be doing is looking at body positivity like she’s a member of the He-Man Woman Haters Club from ‘The Little Rascals’.
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