Lizzo in at the Palace Theater in St Paul

Did Lizzo Just Prove 2019 Was the Year of Body Positivity?

While many of us hit the pause button for the Christmas holiday, others were following a body positivity drama on Twitter. Economist Boyce Watkins offered a theory about the source of fame for a singer known as Lizzo. Obesity caused it. He was dissing her because of her body size. Without missing a beat, Lizzo shot back:

I’m popular because I write good songs and I’m talented and perform high energy hour and a half shows filled with love. The only person who needs to do better is you.

Ignorant Fear of Body Positivity

Watkins’ tweet is a pure expression of fat phobia. He tweeted the ignorant view that mere visibility for someone living in a large body is a threat to humanity:

Lizzo popular is because there is an obesity epidemic in America. Rather than encouraging people to do better, we are simply lying to them and telling them that they are just fine the way they are.

He’s not a medical doctor and he seems to get his knowledge of obesity from fat phobic headlines. But nonetheless, he’s not alone in his ignorant fear of body positivity. Even people who should know better promote that idea. For instance, at the National Academy of Sciences, CDC’s Suzi Gates recently offered the opinion that fashion shows including diverse body sizes are a threat. Showing women of average size (BMI 29.6) in stylish clothes might “normalize” obesity, she fears.

This is wrong, of course. Fat shaming is a health hazard. People take better care of themselves when they feel better about themselves. It really is that simple.

2019 as the Year of Body Positivity

Writing in the Philadelphia Enquirer, Elizabeth Wellington says:

Whether we’re talking the end of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show or the rise of Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty lingerie, 2019 will be remembered as the year of body positivity.

But it’s the classically trained flutist and Grammy-nominated singer Lizzo — real name Melissa Viviane Jefferson — looking “Good as Hell” in her “tossed hair” and “checked nails” who this year claimed the body in body positivity.

Haters need to get over it. People of all size deserve respect, love, and a shot at success. Those who fret that this ethic is a threat to public health are simply serving to protect and promote pervasive weight bias.

Weight bias isn’t gone, but we can hope that it’s on its way out.

Click here for more on the Lizzo fuss and here for more on 2019 as a year of body positivity.

Lizzo in at the Palace Theater in St Paul, photograph © Andy Witchger / WikiMedia Commons

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December 26, 2019