The Pulse

September 10, 2019

Why Lizzo Doesn't Want You Calling Her “Brave” For Embracing Her Body

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In late July, singer Lizzo posted an Instagram photo of herself wearing fishnet stockings along with star pasties over her breasts. The photo, which amassed over 575,000 likes, attracted emoji-filled comments sprinkled with your typical blend of negativity and compliments. Fans applauded the star being confident enough to post the photo, congratulated her on rejecting beauty standards, and encouraged her to continue being an inspiration.

In an interview with Glamour early last week, she addressed those comments that called her “brave” simply for loving herself and existing in her body. She said, “When people look at my body and be like, 'Oh my God, she's so brave,' it's like, 'No, I'm not.’ I'm just fine. I'm just me. I'm just sexy.” 

She isn’t the first to want to discard such comments. Ashley Graham, Tess Holliday and many other pioneers in the body positive movement have rejected this kind of sentiment as well. To praise them for embracing themselves feels sardonic when other celebrities who fit a Eurocentric beauty ideal — thin-bodied, white, perfectly symmetrical face, etc. — aren’t given flowers and unsolicited admiration for loving themselves, too. 

Celebrities such as Lizzo are making the point that it’s unfair to designate one particular person to be the spokesperson for the body positive movement when they didn’t sign up to do so. When Lizzo spoke with Kexp in July, she said, “I don't know what's going to happen. I don't know the future of self-love. I don't know the future of body positivity. I don't know how it's gonna be handled or mishandled. I don't want to be so much attached to it as much as I want to rep it and represent it and be parallel with it and help it. I don't think I can help it if I'm inside of it.” 

While Lizzo doesn't want to entirely separate herself from the movement, she’s choosing not to not take a stance, but to simply live in her own truth. 

Lizzo’s response to being called “brave” is backed by many of her fans. That’s because many people who identify as fat-bodied take issue with the “Body-Positive” movement since it aims to celebrate bodies, rather than the journey of self love. While those who do not fit society’s rigid standards of beauty might face additional challenges to love themselves, people such as Lizzo are reminding us that it’s the journey (and not the body) we should focus on.  

While not all of us want to make self love a political declaration, representation does matter. Even though Lizzo may not want to be called “brave” for being a human, it’s still undeniable she is helping to push the boundaries of conventional beauty simply by being a public figure who loves herself and her body. It’s exciting that more people are loving living in their bodies (specifically fat/plus/curvy people). 

This may feel like a tired sentiment but, every body is beautiful. At the end of the day this movement is about expressing self love and being respectful of others journey to it. We don’t need idols to look up to — we need people who want to stand beside us while we navigate through the rocky roads of becoming 100% that bitch.

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Shelli Nicole is a Detroit-raised, Chicago-based writer whose work on race and culture has appeared in Bustle, TalkPoverty, HelloGiggles & TURN Magazine. Follow her on Instagram (@AyoShelli) for fire selfies & Twitter (@HiShelli) for fiery emotions.

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