The antidote to bad sex, late night texts to exes who don’t deserve you, and friendships that no longer serve you, Lizzo is an explosive remedy for almost every ailment of our daily lives – from body insecurity to impostor syndrome. Only she could make me write the term self-love and not immediately want to gag. This is because she is one of the few authentic examples of what it is to truly value, love, and accept yourself. I firmly believe Lizzo is the soundtrack to wellbeing and, in listening to her music, we can find the self-love we are told we don’t deserve, yet which we are all born innately worthy of.
Similar to my appearance, fitness regime, wardrobe, dietary choices, and lifestyle habits, my romantic life is besieged by a consumerist agenda whose sole survival is centred on finding new and inventive ways to tell me I am incomplete. Not enough. Submerged in a sea of capitalism disguised as empowerment, I have a tendency to forget that, actually, I don’t need or want to spend an inordinate amount of my time dreaming, lusting after, coveting, or envying a romantic ideal. I blithely overlook the fact that, actually, I’m quite happy with the extra rolls hugging my midriff in croissant-like formation and that, on reflection, there is nothing weak or embarrassing about the tears I’ve cried over ‘him’, a professional disappointment, or the limp sandwich that was the straw that broke a bad-day camel’s back.
Lizzo is an unapologetic antidote to this. She is the reminder that everything I need – from spiritual fulfilment to crisis counselling, friendship to orgasm – is within me. Everything I am – from the parts too big and the bits too small – is enough. She is the neon siren screaming to put down the phone, delete the app, get off Instagram (unless on her account) and step away from the dead-end conversation to old, potential, or unfulfilling lover and turn on ‘Soulmate’ instead.
Perhaps it might seem facetious that in a column dedicated to the sensitive topic of minding our overall health, I am analysing chart music lyrics and advocating for the cult of a celebrity. Perhaps it seems ludicrous to suggest that a diet of daily Lizzo-blasting is a viable solution to improving our mood or wellbeing. My response to that is to watch Lizzo’s recent VMA performance.
A rallying rebellion against the flagellation we suffer on a daily basis from media, marketing, and keeping up with Kardashian culture, this performance is what empowerment looks like. It is what personal resilience looks like. It is what authenticity, fearlessness, and courage to be unequivocally oneself in the face of adversity looks like. It is what inclusion and community looks like. And all of that, my sisters, friends, strangers, brothers, readers, is what minding ourselves looks like.
A rallying rebellion against the flagellation we suffer on a daily basis from media, marketing, and keeping up with Kardashian culture, this performance is what empowerment looks like.
It is taking everything we’ve been told to feel guilty, bad, inadequate, and insecure about and turning it into something positive, beautiful and powerful because it is OURS. To own, to champion, to embrace.
Weight. Relationship status. Body image. Sexuality. A love of extra fries. Emotional vulnerability. Fear of abandonment. ‘It’s so hard to love yourself in a world that doesn’t love you back’, Lizzo says. Yet she finds a way to make that possible for all of us – to take these sources of shame, guilt, disgust, self-hate and transform them into the reason we ‘deserve to feel Good as Hell’.
However, the main reason we could all do with a Lizzo kind of self-love is because of its endurance in failure and durability through trial and tribulation. While you might be forgiven for thinking Lizzo had, as she says in My Skin, ‘woke up in this’ – ‘in this’ being a world where she is one of only five women of colour to ever top the Billboard charts, Beyoncé watches her admiringly from backstage and the Obamas feature her on their summer playlist (the highest commendation of them all) – this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Glastonbury 2019 saw Lizzo perform to a crowd of almost 30,000 people, holding them like putty in her hands. However, a mere five years previously, Lizzo’s Glastonbury performance was attended by ten people in a tumbleweed tent. Truth Hurts – an unequivocal belter and the personal anthem of millions – is the song that almost made Lizzo give up on music. First released in 2017, it received little recognition and a binary reaction to the cult-like following it now enjoys, despite Lizzo rightfully believing it to be her best song.
This is the true inspiration of Lizzo: her uncompromising resilience and open vulnerability in the face of adversity and failure. It might seem like she’s just arrived – bursting onto the scene with all of the sass, charisma, and joyful exuberance we can only dream of mustering after several large glasses of wine – but she has fought and won to be here.
There is a lesson in this. We continuously let our worth be decided by external factors – a like on Instagram, a number of ‘followers’ we too often confuse for friends, how many matches we get on an online dating site we’ve redownloaded for the fourth time in as many months. As a writer whose job it is to put my thoughts and vulnerabilities out into the public domain for ruthless consumption, it is impossible not to be swayed by external reaction (or, more accurately, lack there-of). Putting a piece of ourselves into the universe is one of the bravest things we can do – be it applying for a promotion, talking to the person you’ve fancied for time immemorial, or even just risking life and limb to send an opinion into the carnivorous ether that is Twitter. What is braver, is having the integrity to stand over that piece of your soul when you find the world uninterested, unmoved, or just plain indifferent. To remain true to one’s self (I know, it is a phrase that has me retching too) and one’s values in a world that thrives on curated manipulation and an authenticity rarely candid. Lizzo’s self-belief in the face of an uncaring world is a reminder to be uncompromising in your self-worth – even when it seems the universe has conspired to doubt and diminish you.
So try and keep trying. Remember that, in this Polaroid culture that whittles careers down to a few choice snapshots, nobody wakes up to infinite success and the respect and recognition of millions. Lizzo’s slow ascent to being 100% that b**ch is a calming reminder that wherever we are right now is temporary, once we have the resilience to persevere. After all, success is only ever one twerk away. So do your hair toss, check your nails. Cause baby, you deserve to feel good as hell.
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