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8 Things We Learned About Lizzo In Her Interview With Big Boy

"I did not have the confidence that I have now. I had to work really hard for it because I was born with it and the world took it away from me."

Lizzo

Lizzo has never been the one to shy away from being her authentic self whether anyone likes it or not. But at the end of the day, she is human. The “Juice” singer has faced a lot of pushback for her body positivity social media posts but in the same vein has been celebrated for it. Like her social media posts, her music is also often related to women’s empowerment and honoring the inner bad bitch.


Recently, Lizzo appeared on Big Boy’s Neighborhood and discussed body confidence, how she handles social media trolls, her three-month vow of silence, and much more.

Here are eight things we learned about the multi-hyphenate artist.

Lizzo On Her Issues with Confidence Growing Up

"I’ve always been confident in my talent. I could always lean on my talent, my personality. Physically, [I] did not have the confidence that I have now. I had to work really hard for it because I was born with it and the world took it away from me and it was my job to get it back.

"Growing up watching television, growing up going to school, and being told through messaging and explicitly being told from people’s mouths that I was not beautiful. That I didn’t look good, my body wasn't good. My body was bad. I need to lose weight. I would be so much prettier if I was thin. That! And seeing movies not seeing myself, seeing magazines, not seeing myself. That kinda took my confidence away. Watching movies where fat people were made fun of where they’re the butt of the joke. They’re always out of breath. Never the love interest, never desirable. That is what took my confidence away from me because I believed it."

On Falling Victim to Society’s Views on Beauty 

"I tried to change myself. I dieted most of my entire life, wore girdles and shapewear to school when I was in middle school. Uncomfortable girdles that was breaking [out my] skin [and] making me sweat profusely in class. I was embarrassed. I was ashamed of myself. I worked out in the gym all the time. I didn’t eat. I was obsessed with being thin ‘cause I thought that would make me pretty."

Lizzo On People Who Gave Her Confidence

"I never had a Lizzo, but there were people before me that gave me hope like Queen Latifah, Missy Elliott and it’s wild that now I’m in spaces where I can share spaces with Missy Elliott, Queen Latifah. I’ve done a song with Missy and a music video 'Tempo' and she gives me great advice. I saw Queen Latifah at the Songwriters Hall of Fame and she was like man, you are doing everything that you’re supposed to be doing. I wished I had seen this when I was coming up and I was like but you’re you. That’s what I saw. So to hear it from my inspiration from my influence is wild because it’s confirmation that I’m doing the right thing."

Lizzo On How She Handles Social Media

"I’m a part of a new generation of artists. I’m in a new class. It’s like me, Lil Nas X, and Doja Cat. We’re coming up in this age where this is normal. It’s almost like well, it’s a part of the game where you gotta get abused verbally on the internet by millions of strangers every day. You kind of make that a part of your identity as an artist and it’s actually sh–ty. We shouldn’t be putting up with this.

"I remember the first time I really talked to Adele on the phone was when I was getting a lot of backlash for just being a fat person and she called me and was like, ‘How the hell are you doing this?’ She was like it wasn’t like this when she was first coming out which goes to show how quickly the industry has changed. I think it’s fun to piss people off. I like pissing them off because it’s like what are you gonna do about it bitch and if you try to do something I’d beat yo' mothaf--kin' ass."

Lizzo On Being Genre-less

"I’m an artist and my art is this thing that evolves and it’s growing so whatever I feel like doing in that moment, I’ma do it. So right now, I’m a singer and I’m singing. My voice is the genre because I think also this new age of artists we have kind of taken the boundary line off of genres officially which is a beautiful thing because genre’s inherently racist. They used genre to keep white kids away from black music period, back in the day. Race music, whatever they wanted to call it, it was segregation, and the fact that we’ve played into it for so long just shows how much it works and we have turned that down and said, 'F–k that, nah.'

"It started with people saying, ‘I listen to everything.’ Remember when people used to be like no, I listen to rap or I listen to r&b or I listen to rock. People didn’t listen to other stuff and now it’s like nah, we listen to everything and I make everything."

Lizzo On Being a Fan of Her Own Music

"I love my stuff. I listen to my music all the time. It’s really the only music I listen to because I’m listening to my demos. Sometimes I be with my friends and they be like can you put on that song, I’m not gonna say the name of the song, but the unreleased ones, and I be like sure."

Lizzo On Her Gift of Discernment

"God doesn’t let people around me who not supposed to be around and this is a bigger conversation than who I’m touring with in general but my circle is tighter than my p–sy and it’s just as good."

Lizzo On Her Three-month Vow of Silence

"I didn’t talk to nobody and I lived in the house with my mom and my brother and we were in Denver, Colorado and I was just in a bad place in my life. A lot of horrible things happened back to back to back and I kind of shut down—I really just stopped talking. I just had nothing to say to nobody. I was angry with the world and I changed my life. I was gonna be this concert flutist.

I was gonna move to Paris, study at the Paris Conservatory, [and] try to be in a symphony. That was the dream and when that dream ended, I was like okay what are you gonna do now? I think in that three months I was like okay, you’re gonna be a singer, you’re gonna be a rapper, you’re gonna do music. And I was like this is delusional but in those three months, I completely convinced myself. It sounds nice like I took a monk’s vow but it hurt my mom’s feelings a lot. It hurt my brother’s feelings and it hurt me too to do that. I was out of my body. I was like what are you doing? Just talk to them and it was like no you have nothing to say.

Lizzo On Why She Didn't Speak For Months, SNL, Coachella, Dr. Dre, and Playing Flute | Interview

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Featured image by Matt Winkelmeyer/MG22/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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