By Julie Abelson and Lauren Meyer
Ever since Lizzo’s rise to fame, she has stolen the hearts of many with her powerful voice and her efforts to empower women by actively promoting body-positivity and inclusivity.
The body-positivity movement is a social movement created to challenge the ways in which society views the physical body, and instead advocating for the acceptance and love of all bodies.
Lizzo has been known as the face of the movement, not only for her body-positive messages in her songs, but also on many of her social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok.
When the “bodies that look like this also look like this” TikTok trend was circulating, the videos were dominated by skinny people flexing with a “perfect body” and then slouching to reveal their stomach rolls or their “imperfect body”. This implied that the first presentation of their body is the ideal and rolls are not. Lizzo was quick to do the trend, but with her own twist. She simply stood in her video in an attempt to show that there is no “perfect” or “imperfect” body, but rather that all body types are beautiful.
Lizzo has also done the “what I eat in a day” TikTok trend, showing off not only her balanced, vegan meals, but also vegan ice cream and other sweets. She has also posted videos of herself eating on TikTok so that others could share a meal with her and feel more comfortable eating.
Lizzo recently shared on her TikTok that she was taking part in a 10-day cleanse, and it wasn’t long before controversy broke out over how this was promoting “diet culture” and was going against the body-positivity movement.
The TikTok video showed her drinking green smoothies and taking vitamins while snacking on foods like apples and peanut butter, nuts, and cucumber in between. Lizzo noted in the video that her audience should consult with an expert before doing a cleanse stating, “Disclaimer: I was practicing safe detox methods (with) a nutritionist. Do not try without research.” She also stated in the caption that her audience should “practice safe detoxification.”
Although Lizzo encouraged her audience to proceed with caution, the comment section quickly filled with negative comments claiming that she had fallen victim to the toxic diet culture like many other celebrities.
“So much for body positivity. Detoxes don’t work and they go against all actual body positivity. I’m so disappointed” commented @meganlong.
“I hate when we have a celebrity telling [us] to love our bodies and then [later] they end up doing diets & surgeries and lose all their body weight” commented @jlover2009.
The backlash drove Lizzo to post another TikTok addressing the criticism.
In the video, she explained how her decision to do the 10-day cleanse was right for her body and personal health, “In reality, November stressed me the fuck out. I drank a lot, I ate a lot of spicy things and things that fucked my stomach up, and I wanted to reverse it and get back to where I was.” This cleanse had not only helped her physical health but also her “inner peace” and “mental stability.”
Many of these people are not criticizing Lizzo in concern for her own well-being but they are projecting their own desires or fixed-perceptions of her onto her — idolizing and relying on her for body acceptance, but she’s only human.
Just because Lizzo is transparent about her journey with her health doesn’t mean the public has the right to police celebrities or women’s choices for what they do with their bodies.
Celebrities, especially women and BIPOC, are watched with a close eye and held to exceedingly high standards by society. As a famous Black woman whose body doesn’t fit conventional societal beauty standards, Lizzo is under constant scrutiny over what she does with her body and how society views her to be a “legitimate” body-positive role model.
Lizzo simply can’t catch a break — society doesn’t accept her body as non-conventional and society also doesn’t accept or approve of her doing something for her own health.
She addressed this double-standard saying, “As a big girl, people just expect if you are doing something for health, you’re doing it for a dramatic weight loss, and that is not the case.”
Those who vilify Lizzo and accuse her of adhering to societal beauty standards are only counterproductive to the body-positivity movement. In the follow-up video she says, “I feel and look like a bad bitch, and that’s it.” The movement encourages all people to do what makes them feel confident in their own skin, and Lizzo did just that. Feeling entitled to and placing judgment on any women’s body highlights the hypocrisy of the movement.
If we really want to see change in our beauty standards and culture, then it is imperative that we put an end to the attacks against each other. We need to stop jumping to conclusions when it comes to other people’s personal bodily decisions.
We have been taught to judge others who “do not adhere” to our ideas of how things should be, whether that be unrealistic beauty standards or the “correct way” to be body positive. In order to make progress, we need to not only support one another, but also look within ourselves and work to understand and correct what we have been taught by society. Societal change will not and cannot be made without us first challenging our own thoughts and ideas as individuals.
Lauren Meyer (she/her) is a Staff Writer and Graphic Designer for Bell Magazine. She is a sophomore at UW–Madison and is currently studying in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications with a Certificate in Digital Studies. Her interests include Communication Arts, Journalism, Advertising and Gender and Women’s Studies.
Julie Abelson (she/her) is a Staff Writer for Bell Magazine. She is a freshman at UW–Madison majoring in Psychology and Social Work with certificates in Criminal Justice and Public Policy. In her free time, she loves reading, running and going out with friends.