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Lizzo claps back at ‘fatphobic’ and ‘racist’ comments aimed at her ‘Rumors’ video

Lizzo performs in concert at the Hollywood Palladium on  Oct. 18, 2019.
Lizzo, shown at the Hollywood Palladium in late 2019, isn’t letting criticism keep her down.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

“I really think people are just mad to see a fat Black woman that makes pop music and is happy,” Lizzo said Sunday in a TikTok. “Y’all are so upset that I’m happy.”

The Grammywinning artist had just dropped her latest single, “Rumors,” featuring Cardi B, a few days before, accompanied by a music video that’s both inspired by “Hercules” and an homage to musical pioneer Sister Rosetta Tharpe. After releasing her first new song in two years, Lizzo had to weather a storm of racist, fatphobic slurs and commentary online.

One Twitter user, @TheFineFeminine, wrote in a now-deleted tweet, “No shade but L**** is a mammy for the white gaze. Only reason her act is marketed and executed like that.” The mammy caricature is a trope created during slavery in the U.S. to fuel the false notion that Black women were content in their servitude — and it has been pervasive in popular culture.

A Times reporter went to Pasadena’s Rose Bowl Flea Market for some Sunday fun. Instead she was confronted with racist rag dolls and minstrel piggy banks

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On an Instagram Live that is no longer on her feed, Lizzo expressed how “overwhelmed” she was by the negative attacks and was seen crying. According to Yahoo, the artist said in her 13-minute video that she had been working “quadruple” the time and hadn’t “really been able to sit and just congratulate myself.”

Lizzo said, “People saying s— about me that just doesn’t even make sense. It’s fatphobic, and it’s racist, and it’s hurtful. If you don’t like my music, cool. If you don’t like ‘Rumors’ the song, cool. But a lot of people don’t like me because of the way I look... What I won’t accept is y’all doing this to Black women over and over and over again — especially us big Black girls.”

Despite criticism from haters, the 33-year-old artist was supported by her fans and the likes of Chloe Bailey, Cardi B and others. After wiping her tears on Instagram, Lizzo changed her tune and took to TikTok to combat the hatred.

‘Rumors’ is Lizzo’s first single since 2019’s ‘Cuz I Love You’ album, which after years of work on the margins brought the singer fully into the mainstream.

Adding her two cents to a supportive video by Pablo the Don, a popular music critic and the head of content at nonprofit Girls Behind the Rock Show, Lizzo pointed out the hypocrisy in the comments. She said that those same individuals who are “mad when I’m being hypersexual” fail to recognize that the mammy trope is desexualized.

“It can’t both be true. Make it make sense,” she said. Per Ferris State University‘s Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, the mammy caricature was “deliberately constructed to suggest ugliness.”

Pop star Lizzo posted a TikTok video clapping back at critics of her body, telling them to mind their own business and look inward.

However, Lizzo, who has shut down body-shamers before, said the rhetoric doesn’t bother her because she is not the first Black female artist to have endured this. She cited the criticism Aretha Franklin received from the Black church establishment following “Respect,” and the countless comments made about Whitney Houston and Beyoncé early in their careers.

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“So you know what, the type of music that I make, I know that I’m making it to be great, I’m making it to touch the world and I don’t trip on any of these criticisms,” Lizzo said. “I’m on my way to make my dreams come true. I hope you are too.”


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