Throughout the interview with the publication, the “Truth Hurts” star addresses some of the criticisms thrown at her throughout her Grammy and Emmy-winning career — including accusations of making music for a “white audience” and that her revealing Instagram page and concert looks add “to the sexualization of women.”
“That is probably the biggest criticism I’ve received, and it is such a critical conversation when it comes to Black artists,” she said of questions over who she makes music for. “When Black people see a lot of white people in the audience, they think, ‘Well this isn’t for me, this is for them.’ The thing is, when a Black artist reaches a certain level of popularity, it’s going to be a predominantly white crowd.”
Lizzo said this isn’t anything new, pointing to how Black legends like Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Tina Turner, Beyonce, Diana Ross and Whitney Houston all played to audiences that were predominantly white.
“I am not making music for white people. I am a Black woman, I am making music from my Black experience, for me to heal myself [from] the experience we call life,” she continued. “If I can help other people, hell yeah. Because we are the most marginalized and neglected people in this country. We need self-love and self-love anthems more than anybody. So am I making music for that girl right there who looks like me, who grew up in a city where she was under-appreciated and picked on and made to feel un-beautiful? Yes. It blows my mind when people say I’m not making music from a Black perspective—how could I not do that as a Black artist?”
As for her wardrobe choices, she said, “When it’s sexual, it’s mine. When it’s sexualized, someone is doing it to me or taking it from me.”
“Black women are hyper-sexualized all the time, and masculinized simultaneously. Because of the structure of racism, if you’re thinner and lighter, or your features are narrow, you’re closer to being a woman,” she continued, adding that thanks to the success of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” dancing in leotards “became the industry standard for everyone.”
“I wanted to be like a dancer and also, it was kind of political and feminist in my eyes to have me, a full-figured dancer, wearing leotards, showing and celebrating curves and being Olympian in strength, endurance, and flexibility,” she added, while drawing comparisons between what she’s doing and Josephine Baker wearing banana skirts in the 1920s.
“Movements have to evolve generationally. The culture changes,” she added. “You can’t have a movement in 1920 be the same thing as it is in the 2020s. We have to match the rebellion. The rebellion isn’t even the same.”
Lizzo also addressed the “body positivity” discourse around her, saying it’s not something she tires of and is something she expected since Day 1 in the music industry. She went on to talk about her “healthy lifestyle” and how food or weight shouldn’t be a main focus in life.
“I lead a very healthy lifestyle — mentally, spiritually, I try to keep everything I put in my body super clean. Health is something I prioritize, wherever that leads me physically,” she explained. “Like veganism, people were like, ‘You’re a vegan? What, are you deep frying the lettuce?’ I’m not a vegan to lose weight, I just feel better when I eat plants.”
“It sucks that we associate weight gain with the negative thing that causes it. It’s mixing this beautiful thing that’s food — and nourishing ourselves with it, but it’s the stress that’s the bad thing, not the 20 pounds,” she added. “I feel very lucky because I don’t feel that weight gain is bad anymore. Nor is weight loss—it’s neutral. And food is fun. I love eating, and I have a chef now, and I’m not thinking about it. I had a brownie last night.”