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Why Won’t People Let Lizzo Live?

The day has finally come: Lizzo is releasing new music. On August 13, Lizzo dropped “Rumors” featuring Cardi B. Until last Friday, fans had not gotten something new from Lizzo in two years, except of course for her glorious TikToks. And, while I have been loving LizzoTok, nothing compares to hearing songs like “Truth Hurts” for the first time. So, when I streamed “Rumors,” I was filled with excitement imagining the new era Lizzo was about to embark on. Unfortunately, the internet had other plans for the singer, even causing her to host a teary Instagram live session on August 15 addressing the hateful comments she was receiving.

I have been a fan of Lizzo ever since I first heard “Good As Hell” in high school. Every single one of her songs demonstrates her musical knowledge, incredible vocal skills, and clever writing capabilities. Even more than that, every Lizzo song is a confidence boost. There is no other artist who makes me feel as excited and self-assured as Lizzo, and that’s because the woman is a monument to self-love who knows how to write a catchy chorus. While the Lizzo-verse is all rainbows and sunshine and dance parties, Lizzo has often been subject to intense scrutiny from the public whether she is being body-shamed or slut-shamed, and “Rumors” acknowledges this. 

The lyrics to “Rumors” start, “They don’t know I do it for the culture, goddamn / They say I should watch the shit I post, oh, goddamn / Say I’m turnin’ big girls into hoes, oh, goddamn / They say I get groupies at my shows, oh, goddamn,” calling out those who have relentlessly criticized the singer throughout the past few years and the rumors that they’ve circulated. Despite all her positivity, Lizzo can’t seem to catch a break. The internet believes that every part of her personality is up for discussion — from what she wears, to what she weighs, to what she eats. She mentions this in “Rumors” too, writing, “Last year, I thought I would losе it / Readin’ shit on the internеt / My smoothie cleanse and my diet.” 

Although so many celebrities endure hate, Lizzo gets a disproportionate amount of attention and negative feedback, and this is because she’s a sex-positive, body-positive, fat, Black woman. Look no further than “Rumors” collaborator Cardi B, who was talked about in the press for weeks after releasing her song “WAP” to find evidence of the way that the media treats Black women in music. The hyperfixation on artists like Lizzo and Cardi B and the entitlement that people feel to comment on every aspect of their lives point to our society’s discomfort with seeing Black women being happy, successful, and sexual on their own terms. The slew of negative comments on the internet (and input from right-wing commentators) reveals our society’s attempts to scare them into submission. 

This brings us to Lizzo’s Instagram live, where the singer said, dabbing her eyes with a tissue, “On the days that I feel like I should be the happiest — I feel so down.” While she didn’t specify what comments she was responding to, she continued to say, “People say sh*t about me that just doesn’t make sense. It’s fatphobic, it’s racist, and it’s hurtful.”

As much as a crying Lizzo is a rare (and heartbreaking) sight, much of Lizzo’s live was true to character. She was humble, honest, and self-confident. She reaffirmed her priorities and dedication to making music for herself and other Black women first and foremost. “I’m doing this sh*t for the big Black women in the future who just want to live their lives without being scrutinized or put into boxes,” she said. Just as Lizzo addresses “the haters” in “Rumors,” she took this opportunity to reach them over Instagram. “I don’t have time for your negativity,” Lizzo said. “Your internalized self-hatred that you project onto me with the racism and fatphobia — I don’t have time for it.”

Today, Lizzo is already refocused on the positive. She’s getting support from fans and other artists, uploading videos of herself playing the flute on her Instagram Story, and celebrating her chart success. Despite living in a society that severely misunderstands (and actively attacks) her, Lizzo keeps going. As she said in her Instagram live, “Have a good day, stream ‘Rumors,’ f*ck the haters.”

Olivia is a senior at Wesleyan University where she studies the social sciences and writing. In her free time, you can probably find Olivia reading a memoir, trying to learn how to play the guitar, or talking about Taylor Swift. She was a summer 2021 editorial intern and is a national writer.
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