Lizzo is the Intersectional Feminist We All Need to Listen To
Photo credit: cover photo for Cuz I Love You. Atlantic Records
Listening to Lizzo is a healing experience. I have been taught the importance of self-love time and time again, but it was not until I started listening to Lizzo that I understood what this meant. Lizzo is a feminist who embodies self-love in a beautiful way. In her 2019 BET performance, Lizzo danced with a group of black women on stage, displaying a range of body types, celebrating body diversity. Lizzo dressed in a wedding gown, to symbolize the importance of marrying and loving herself. She played the flute, showing the world what a talented artist she is. In this performance, Lizzo displayed a level of confidence that was unparalleled and inspiring.
Though Lizzo does not limit her music to any one genre, she is a talented singer, rapper, and flautist. Lizzo has been producing music since her debut album, Lizzobangers, was released in 2013. Since then, Lizzo has released two more albums, with the most recent coming earlier this year. Her newest album, Cuz I Love You, is propelling Lizzo into the spotlight and has landed the artist a number one spot on iTunes. Her popular single, “Truth Hurts,” has officially gone platinum. The numbers alone prove that Lizzo is a big deal. But Lizzo’s music is more than just a hit single or a number one album. Lizzo—and her music—is the epitome of intersectional feminism.
An important and too often forgotten part of feminism is celebrating all bodies. This means more than tolerance. Rather, it is about all bodies being celebrated and deemed worthy and valuable. Lizzo has helped me reclaim this celebration for my own body by being a prime example of self-love and inclusivity. Lizzo publicly uplifts her own body, calling herself a “big fat free work of art” on Twitter. It is healing to see an artist—especially a woman of color—reclaiming fatness first as normal, and then as more than that; Lizzo depicts fatness as beautiful. Often demonized in the media, fatness makes many people uncomfortable because it is stigmatized as negative. Lizzo, however, reclaims this body type in a refreshing way. Lizzo stands for all bodies, and refuses to stay silent when minoritized bodies are under attack, as seen in her Pride performance, where she reminds the crowds that black lives matter and trans lives matter.
In the description for her music video for “My Skin” (a song off her 2015 album Big Grrrl Small World), Lizzo writes about the importance of her skin, not only because it is “stretched,” but because it is brown. Lizzo writes about her experience as a black woman in the USA and how that is unique. This experience is another lens through which Lizzo demonstrates intersectional feminism. Throughout her entire career, Lizzo has been one to openly share her experiences—both in joy and in sorrow. Recently, Lizzo shared an Instagram post where she said she was depressed and struggling to love herself. This honesty is uncommon in media and is especially stigmatized for people of color. Because mental health is deeply personal, Lizzo’s honesty is impactful to followers, especially when it comes from a celebrity who is known for her self-celebration. It is this transparency that makes her presence intersectional. Lizzo shares the fullness of her life experiences.
In a follow-up to the aforementioned post, Lizzo reassured her followers she was doing better and shared some insights that have helped her with self-awareness, including being aware of her triggers. She wrote, “I love that I’m more emotionally honest lately. I love that I can use my sadness constructively in real time for gratitude.” She also encouraged her followers to think introspectively and to reflect on what they can love about themselves, even in times of darkness. This post symbolizes why Lizzo is a healing artist for me; not only does she highlight her struggles, but she also models what it looks like to work through them in a healthy way. Public figures like Lizzo normalizing mental health are incredible role models for fans everywhere and especially women of color.
Although Lizzo is primarily a musical artist, it is critical to look at her social media content in the context of her music. While most artists use social media to promote their work, Lizzo is unique in that she also uses her media to promote self-love and independence. To understand Lizzo’s music, you must understand the joy—and the hurt—behind it; this vulnerability comes across in her social media presence. Cuz I Love You is such an important album because it reflects the wholeness that is Lizzo. She has songs like “Jerome,” a ballad that reflects on the difficulty Lizzo faced when recognizing she had to prioritize herself over someone else. Even though she loved them, self-love is more important. I listen to this song and even though I have not experienced heartbreak like Lizzo has, “Jerome” makes me cry almost every time. Then, I listen to “Like A Girl,” and I am ready to take on the world—and do it like a girl. This empowering song is not only catchy, but also embraces femininity and independence. Lizzo has songs about relationships (songs like “Boys”) but also songs that reflect the importance of being content alone (“Soulmate” is all about how Lizzo sees herself as her own soulmate).
When I say that listening to Lizzo is healing, it is because I can find relief and solidarity with a woman of color who is honest about her experiences, who is sexually liberating, and who uplifts herself and others. Lizzo has a song for every occasion—for heartbreak, for love, for friendship, and for singleness. Both her music and her personal content are inclusive and empowering, making Lizzo the intersectional artist everyone should be listening to.
About the author: Analyn Grasz is a student at Seattle Pacific University, planning on graduating in June 2020 with a degree in Integrated Studies. She hopes to one day have a classroom of her own. Until then, she spends her time baking, going to concerts, and working with children.