Lizzo tackles the hurt in truth with self-love

By Erin Caine

Former Lifestyle Editor

If a Lizzo song doesn’t have you instantly charmed, you might want to get yourself checked out.

Ever since her self-esteem-centric hit single “Juice” dropped in January, the outspoken singer-songwriter has been enjoying some much-deserved recognition.

Lizzo, aka Melissa Jefferson, first got into making music while growing up in Houston, and she eventually moved to Minneapolis to begin her career in earnest.

She released her debut album, “Lizzobangers,” in 2013 and then her sophomore effort, “Big Grrrl Small World,” two years later. Time named her one of 14 music artists to watch in 2014.

In the middle of April, she released her album “Cuz I Love You”—featuring “Juice”—to universal acclaim. Natty Kasambala of NME gave the album five out of five stars, calling Lizzo the “exciting poster child for a more empowering, inclusive, and diverse pop landscape.”

Kasambala adds, “On her self-love anthem-packed third album, Lizzo proves she’s the electric, complex pop star that the world needs.”

In other words, Lizzo isn’t afraid to say what needs to be said, and what isn’t being said.

Body positivity and diversity are the focus of much of her music, and she also tackles (with characteristic poise) topics such as sex, feminine power, and race. Her group of back-up dancers, The Big Grrrls, consists of all plus-size dancers.

It’s not just the infectious melodies that draws people into Lizzo’s world, but also her unabashed celebration of uniqueness, positivity, and community.

Speaking with Janelle Monáe in an April interview for Them, Lizzo discusses female empowerment in the industry: “Women are phased out of creative industries by the quote-unquote ‘boy’s club’ way early on.”

She adds, “It’s more than just getting them the job—it’s giving them the training, making them feel comfortable enough to make mistakes and lean into something and have a girl’s club. So they can get all the experience they need to be at the top of the game.”

And Lizzo is sincere in her mission. In an interview with The Cut, she expressed her distaste for the commodification of “self-love”:

“That’s just hopping on a trend and expecting people to blindly love themselves. That’s fake love. I’m trying to figure out how to actually live it.”

“Cuz I Love You” definitely feels lived-in and genuine, even flippant. The title track off the album has Lizzo grappling with first-time love and the stress of emotional vulnerability.

“Never been in love before,” she sings in the opening verse. “What the f*ck are f*cking feelings, yo?”

For many fans, Lizzo has given them a voice in music they’ve never had before, a voice for those who’ve never felt like they were “allowed” to take up space.

The messages of Lizzo’s music and persona say otherwise. They say, “Take up all the space you want.”

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