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‘I'm Winning Ho’: The Fatphobic Discourse around Lizzo

 Celebrities–whether musicians, actors, or influencers–are unfortunately susceptible to bullying and harassment from society and even members of their own fanbases. These hate comments can range from the celebrities “lack of talent” to even trivial and irrelevant comments about how these celebrities should live their lives. And with the rise and progression of social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok, it has become much easier for people to share rude and hurtful comments about these celebrities online for everyone to see.

For 34-year-old Detroit native musician Lizzo, however, these comments go beyond her singing, rapping, and songwriting ability. Since the success of her debut single “Truth Hurts,” Lizzo has been receiving widespread body-shaming slurs and other hateful comments regarding her body weight. Many of the comments seen include users telling her to “lose weight,” “go to the gym,” or to simply eat “healthier foods.”

While Lizzo usually doesn’t let these body-shaming hate comments get to her, the comments about her weight were even more severe and abundant after the release of her single “Rumors” featuring Cardi B. back in August of 2021. In response to this wave of hate comments, Lizzo took to Instagram live to explain the racist and fatphobic undertones the criticism she received had. “It’s fatphobic, it’s racist and it's hurtful,” Lizzo exclaimed with tears in her eyes. “What I won’t accept is y’all doing this to Black women over and over and over again, especially us big Black girls ” (Madani, 2021).

The hurtful comments Lizzo has been receiving since the start of her career are a part of a larger conversation of fatphobia, which is the irrational fear and discrimination against fat people. In society, being fat and “overweight” is heavily stigmatized, many people feel as though they have the right or duty to police fat peoples’ bodies and give them “tips” on how to lose and manage their weight. Fatphobia is not only interpersonal but has been constructed on a systemic and institutionalized level as well; fat people are negatively affected in the medical industry, the job market and even the fashion industry.

Between the release of her single “Rumors” and her fourth studio album Special, the fatphobia Lizzo has been experiencing has unfortunately not ceased. However, the musician has since developed a newfound love for herself and her body that no one can take away. So, when comedian Aries Spears made several body-shaming comments about the singer in an interview with The Art of Dialogue, Lizzo made sure to make it known that the critics absolutely do not phase her. Following the days of the interview where Spears stated that, “A woman that’s built like a plate of mashed potatoes is in trouble ” (Schonfeld, 2022), Lizzo won the Video for Good Award at the 2022 Video Music Awards for her “About Damn Time” music video and took to the stage to address both her fans and haters in her acceptance speech. “And now, to the b*tches that got something to say about me in the press,” Lizzo said, “You know what, I’m not going to say nothing. They be like, ‘Lizzo, why don’t you clap back?’ Because b*tch I’m winning, ho! Big b*tch is winning, ho!” (Alessandrini, 2022)

Lizzo is most definitely winning for sure. Not only has her single “About Damn Time” been dominating the Billboard 100 charts, but she is now halfway towards achieving EGOT status after winning an Emmy for her competition-based reality show Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls. And to all the fatphobic haters praying on Lizzo's downfall, you can keep trying but your efforts will not succeed, because Lizzo is here to stay. In a world where the body-type beauty standards for women are constantly changing, Lizzo’s presence alone is helping plus-size Black girls and women build the confidence they need to show up in the world in their full and authentic selves. 

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