My plus-sized heart is absolutely broken over the news about Lizzo's alleged treatment of her dancers. I'm torn between being angry at her and scared that the backlash could ruin the future of fat-positive figures like her forever.
ICYMI, Lizzo is being sued by three of her dancers who have accused her of creating a hostile working environment. The lawsuit alleges sexual harassment, racial harassment, false imprisonment and interference with prospective economic advantage.
The ‘Truth Hurts’ singer allegedly criticised a dancer's weight gain and fired them after they had recorded a meeting because of a health condition, “pressured” a dancer to touch a nude performer and forced dancers to re-audition for their places after accusing them of being drunk at work.
That’s right, one of the biggest leaders of the body-positivity revolution has been accused of the ultimate act of hypocrisy - discriminating against her staff in a multitude of ways. Unfortunately, Lizzo wasn’t the only person creating this toxic workplace culture.
Shirlene Quigley, captain of Lizzo’s dance team known as the 'Big Grrrls', has also been accused of simulating oral sex, openly discussing a dancers virginity and denouncing people for having premarital sex. The dancers believe that Lizzo was aware of the complaints about Quigley.
Lizzo has been preaching self-love since the beginning of her career and has been passionate about normalising her body. It was refreshing to see a pop-star have a body like mine and get praised for it. It genuinely pains me to think about all the little fat girls who have idolised her because I don’t know if we’ll see a plus-sized person get this much praise again.
Despite constantly receiving criticism for her appearance, Lizzo continued to be a role model that reassured us that we are perfect as we are.
I remember first hearing about Lizzo’s show ‘Watch Out for the Big Grrrls’ and being so excited that she was creating opportunities for plus sized dancers to be part of her tour. The contestants on her show felt much the same way.
Dancer Sydney Bell said: "It's something I don't think any of us could have ever really imagined for ourselves… Especially with Lizzo allowing us to have this world to really allow us to be seen and to be heard. This is surreal, by far an amazing opportunity."
Lizzo was right when she said ‘Truth hurts’ because the thought of the harassment and discrimination the women faced genuinely upsets me.
Lizzo was not only their role model, but a beacon of hope for plus-sized people everywhere.
The Big Grrrls brand emphasised diversity, self-love and a vision of a new future for the back-up dancing industry. What was meant to be a once in a lifetime opportunity for the dancers to legitimise themselves professionally without body discrimination left them subjected to the same disgusting treatment that they were hoping to escape.
These women deserve better, but I also think that Lizzo deserves better, too - and that might be an unpopular opinion RN…
Lizzo hasn't responded to the controversy officially, but an hour after the news broke, she posted on Instagram saying: “True love ain’t something that u buy yourself.. True love finally happens when u by yourself.”
Floods of fans have taken to the comments section, disgusted by the allegations. Almost everyone can agree that it was completely inappropriate for Lizzo to post without addressing the lawsuit. As a social media manager myself, I can only assume that her post was scheduled to be posted before her team caught wind of the controversy.
The allegations are disgusting, heartbreaking and predatory, but most of the hate that Lizzo is receiving is about her weight. There is no worse feeling in the world than knowing that people can’t look past your body. All fat people want is to be treated like a person.
Earlier this year, I had a breakdown because a conflict I had with a friend turned into a conversation about my weight. My weight had nothing to do with our bickering, but it was weaponised against me. I realised that I couldn’t be the ‘bad guy’ in the situation because they couldn’t even see me as a person. Regardless of my actions, I was just deemed fat.
If the allegations are true, Lizzo deserves to be ashamed of her actions, but she still deserves to be treated like a person.
Making fun of her weight doesn’t help the dancers feel better about the situation, it hurts them and it hurts fat people. These sorts of comments completely undermine the discrimination they faced in their workplace and undermines them as people.
I am disgusted at the allegations that have been made against Lizzo. If her actions are true they are absolutely inexcusable and she should be condemned. All I want is for people to treat her like any other person.
Lizzo isn’t the only person in the world who has discriminated against a plus-sized person. She’s been fat-shamed her entire career. If a smaller-framed person had the same controversial lawsuit no one would be laughing. Let’s make this conversation empowering to plus-sized people and remove discussions of weight.
Melissa Viviane Jefferson is a person, let’s treat her like one.