Lizzo’s Special Message
“C’mon ladies! Let’s torch those calories…” The instructor whipped her ponytail back and led her audience up the next “hill”. My feet endlessly chased one another up the spin bike’s artificial resistance. I toasted over a flame, burning off the whole wheat bread I had eaten that morning. A silky, sweet lyric stung my salty skin, permeating the mental imagery of burnt carbs melting off of me– “Am I ready? … To be loveddd… to be loveddd. You deserve it now!”
Lizzo’s lyrics are the saving grace of gym goers everywhere– who are often hypnotized into working out for someone besides themselves. Inside and outside of cycling gyms, Lizzo’s songs spark conversations about overcoming insecurity and building strong friendships with other women. In a world full of pop songs centered around the desire for a significant other, a love ballad to oneself is hard to come by. From her latest album Special to her first single, Truth Hurts– Lizzo has always stayed true to who she is. In the music video for Truth Hurts, Lizzo is depicted marrying herself. Her message hasn’t changed since this iconic video, in which she wore a slinky, white nightgown and a poofy tulle veil.
Lizzo’s latest album, Special, features a bouncy self-love anthem entitled If You Love Me that encompasses just about everything she stands for. In it, Lizzo straightforwardly states her message over the prominent bass, “If you love me– you love all of me– or none of me at all.” Later in the song, Lizzo humanizes herself by bravely sharing her own struggles; she doesn’t gloss over them for the sake of maintaining her stage presence. She admits that sometimes the “mirror lies” to her. This provides an accurate depiction of self-love, presenting self-romance as a never ending journey– a battle that can’t ever be won for good.
Instead of calling all the boys to the yard, Lizzo calls all her girls to dance together like “C-E-hoes”. The term effectively remixes a degrading term into an empowering one– it implies that a woman is taking charge of a situation rather than succumbing to it. The theme of the song promotes female solidarity, which is a concept frequently forgotten in heterosexual social situations where girls are competing against one another for men. Lizzo’s message here is incredibly important; there aren’t many cultural artifacts that promote putting your friends ahead, or at equal footing with your significant other.
I was surprised to learn that a couple of my friends didn’t like the song Grrrls. They bluntly admitted that it was too poppy for them, that it wasn’t something that they would choose to listen to. However, they may enjoy the song if it was played in the right context– such as at a party or at a workout class. Lizzo has a big impact, even on people who are not fans of her music, due to how widely played her music is. Even though people may not make the decision to listen to Lizzo’s music, her body positive messages still manage to reach them because she is so mainstream.
More than anything, Lizzo is famous for her voluptuous figure. The reason why I mention this at the end of the article is because this has nothing to do with how talented she is. Women are often seen as bodies rather than as people who deserve to be recognized for their skills. This of course is exaggerated for women whose skills place them in the media place. In order to reach the general public’s ears, Lizzo must first reach the eye of selective listeners who may turn away before even listening to her songs. With the exception of SIA, and perhaps a few other creative artists, it is near impossible to be a disembodied voice as a musician. The appearance of a musical artist frames the art that they create. Lizzo refuses to cower away from the limelight for the sake of others’ comfort, every bit of her takes center stage. She accentuates her curvaceous figure with showstopping outfits. Lizzo’s new album Special can added to the cannon of music that is empowering to women of all shapes and sizes.
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